Internationally renowned sculptor Philip Jackson and his wife Jean welcomed around 400 people to their gardens at Casters Brook in Cocking in aid of the Murray Downland Trust.
“It was incredible as in previous years the number has been around 190,” said Jean.
“The event is growing enormously and we also had glorious sunshine for the event this year.”
Visitors not only had the chance to view the stunning gardens, but many were also given a guided ‘sculpture trail’ by the sculptor himself in the afternoon.
There were refreshments and a plant stall and the opportunity to learn more of the work of the Murray Downland Trust at a stall manned by members.
“They had visitors signing up as new members, which was good,” said Jean.
John Humphris, the well-known garden expert from Easebourne, was also on hand during the day to answer gardening queries and bee-keepers demonstrated how to care for bees in their hives.
During the year Jean and Philip had spent much time and effort in their gardens making them an integral part of the landscape under the Downs while at the same time developing the planting and architectural structure.
Among the spectacular new features is the development of The Glebe, the part of the garden which wraps around the churchyard at Cocking. The land had been prone to flooding since the 1700s.
“But we have now put in a lot of land drains and it is much drier,” said Jean. “We have been able to make a lawn and have added a Japanese island by the lake.”
The day raised some £3,000 for the trust which maintains and enhances the reserves on local areas of the Downs, the nearest one being at Heyshott. The reserves encourage the breeding of rare butterflies and by cutting down and controlling the scrubland, have enabled wild flowers to flourish.
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