Suffolk garden set to blossom once again

Jane Bastow in her garden in St James South Elmham.PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Jane Bastow in her garden in St James South Elmham.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

It started out as a village coffee morning more than 15 years ago, and now the opening of Jane Bastow’s garden is a permanent fixture on the calendar.

The garden will be opening as part of the National Garden Scheme. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The garden will be opening as part of the National Garden Scheme. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The 56-year-old, who lives in St James South Elmham, moved to the area 23 years ago with her husband. However 18 months after they had settled into their new home he passed away and it was suggested Mrs Bastow hold a coffee morning to give her something to focus on.

Since then the event has snowballed into Mrs Bastow opening her garden twice a year with stalls and live music, all in the name of charity.

She said: “It started out as a coffee morning, and then a coffee morning and gardens and then the garden bit took off and it became all about the that.

“The garden was empty when I got here apart from the big silver birch and apple tree, which was wonderful because I had a lot of space to work with. Gardening is the best form of therapy. It has got me through the tough times.” Mrs Bastow has raised around £15,000 for numerous charities over the years and this month she will be opening her garden for the fourth time as part of the National Gardens Scheme.

She said: “At this time of year the hellebores and snowdrops are lovely, but all year round there is colour.” The event is being held at her home at The Laburnums in The Street, on Monday, March 28, from 11am to 5pm. Admission costs £4 with children free and plants grown in Mrs Bastow’s garden will be on sale.

Her one-acre garden is packed with perennials, flowering shrubs, trees and areas dedicated to wild flowers and in the spring it is awash with colour-snowdrops, aconites, hellebores, daffodils and more. She also has three ponds, a sunken garden and two glasshouses.

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But it is her second open garden event of the year which really gets the whole community involved.

As well as allowing visitors to browse the garden, the event also includes a performance from the Waveney Brass Band, a plant stall, books, cakes, a raffle and barbecue.

Mrs Bastow said: “Everyone comes to help me and it is nice to have a fresh pair of eyes to look at the garden and tell me what needs doing.

“The ladies from the village help me out in the kitchen and everyone has their roles.

“We get people come from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and a lot of people come every year so it is nice for them to see everyone again and catch up.

“First thing in the morning they are queuing at the gate for the plant stall.”

The event, which is being held this year on Saturday, May 14, has in the past attracted up to 300 people.

She said: “I support a different charity every year and this year we are doing Help for Heroes and I make a donation to the village hall too. I couldn’t do it without all the support. It is a real team effort.”

The event runs from 10am to 5pm and admission costs £2 including tea and a biscuit, or 50p for supervised children.