Highlights of the 2018 Festival
Hellens Garden Festival celebrated its 12th year bathed in glorious sunshine. As the weekend’s festivities unfolded visitors and exhibitors basked in the warmth of summer, appreciating the gentle pace, spaciousness and beauty of Hellens romantic gardens in full bloom.
Reflecting on our theme, ‘Water, The Life Force’, keynote speakers Terry Walton and Katie Alcott, shared their knowledge and passion, exploring how vital healthy water is for the survival of all life; people, plants and the planet.
Their message echoed our belief, that if each person can respect, conserve and creatively use resources, we can all contribute to a better world. Visitors from 8- 80 were entertained by Martin Kizko, the UK’s green poet, weaving rhymes and lessons into glorious and funny poems. Others inspired by local wildlife and waterways experts, who highlighted the importance of conservation of our local rivers.
It was wonderful to hear visitors comments: ‘ a lovely festival in beautiful surroundings’, ‘came away with plants that we wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere locally’, ‘so much to see, hear and do for all the family’.
The Festival experience included engaging talks on a variety of topics: ‘Hedgehogs in Herefordshire’, Dowsing, Foraging Feasts, and ‘A Taste of Physic Garden teas’. Visitors meandering along the sculpture trail created a wave of movement through the meadow; it was a sight to behold from the East lawn, where a mesmerising spiral mandala evolved over the two days. Children were entertained and engaged, making clay fish, seed bombs, tactile mud walling and water filtering in the Back to the Wild glade, storytelling, ‘lucky dipping’ and following the fish trail. As music curated by the Pumpkin Sessions played on, local cider, delicious food and a great deal of ice cream was enjoyed and a gentle air of contentment settled throughout the Festival.
An owl emerged from a block of wood carved by ‘chainsaw Sam’; Say it with Wood showcased their traditional vintage paling machinery and biochar, alongside talented local artists teaching blacksmithing, contemporary and traditional woodworking and willow weaving. The cedar lawn was abundant with beautiful blooms and unusual plants. As replete, happy visitors and satisfied exhibitors made their way home in the warm Sunday sunshine, a quietness descended on the Hellens landscape, the mandala spiral glowing in the evening light. Another year’s Festival completed.
The 2017 theme of ‘Growing Today for All Our Tomorrows’ aimed to engage curiosity and a wonder for the natural world in people of all ages… We were blessed with glorious weather and a record number of visitors who came and enjoyed the usual beautiful plant stalls, delicious food, music and range of stalls and activities on offer. We had blacksmiths and their apprentices demonstrating their craft, as well as a number of local artists and craftspeople. More speakers and ‘walks and talks’ than ever before, with experts sharing their knowledge of gardening, bee keeping, foraging – a great deal of inspiration to encourage the next generation of gardeners! Meanwhile, children enjoyed storytelling in the woodland, a fairy door trail, face painting and messy cob building.
One of the highlights of the 2017 festival was the beautiful mandala, created by a leading land work artist, Kate Raggett, and our visitors. Kate designed and drew the outline of the piece and visitors contributed by filling in the pattern with recycled, reused and re-purposed items such as bottle tops, pine cones, shells and stones. The final piece was stunning and was the result of a great team effort. From the mandala on the east lawn, visitors wandered through gates into the wildflower meadow, following a meandering path through the flowers to sculptures and Hellens standing stones. The sculpture trail was such a success that it, and a mandala will be sure to return in another form for the 2018 festival!
We’d like to say a huge thank you to all of our wonderful exhibitors, visitors and supporters for making Hellens Garden Festival 2017 a huge success! The festival raised a fantastic £10,575 for St Michael’s Hospice and £3525 for ‘Back to The Wild’ projects.