Hellens Garden Festival 2023

Hellens Garden Festival 2023 was a great success, made possible by a productive year of planning, the brilliant team at Hellens and many helpful volunteers. The theme of ‘Transformation’ was appropriate, reflecting changes in the HGF team and in the wider landscape, across the regeneration land at Hellens. As ever, the programme offered inclusive and inspiring opportunities with the hope of catalyzing change for a fairer, greener, more sustainable world.  

The well attended talks programme included; ‘Transforming the River Wye’, ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’, ‘Transforming our inner landscapes with Cultural Emergence’ and on Sunday Sue Mabberly and Liz Knight’s ‘Ground elder appreciation society’, a panel forum on ‘Inspiring the next generation of allotmenteers’ and ‘Sustainability Cafe’.

We developed the new ‘EGG’ space, in memory of Hannah Genders, which housed a diverse range of workshops during the weekend. Visitors had the opportunity to learn about composting, natural pigment making, planting for pollinators, as well as take part in deep dive discussions into local planning and system thermodynamics of a polytunnel. 

This year we also extended our work with local schools, made possible with a grant from the Brailsford Trust. We delivered a 6 week garden project at Much Marcle Primary school and an Earth Education day for students from Ledbury Primary school.

HGF 2023 raised £23,000 for local beneficiaries

£16,100 was donated to St Michael’s Hospice, £4,600 to Back to the Wild CIC and £2,300 to Cultivating learning and nature’s ‘Future Naturalists’ project

Hellens Garden Festival 2022

Building on the achievements of the past few years, Hellens Garden Festival 2022 was our most successful yet, with record numbers of tickets sold on both days and a fantastic amount of money raised for our local beneficiaries.

The event centred around the theme of “Growing the future, the revolution starts here’. Celebrating connection, collaboration and encouraging dialogue around some of the important environmental and interpersonal issues we face today. The programme grew from this theme and we had a diverse range of talks and interactive activities. Highlights included a ‘Grow your Own Forum’, HGF ‘Gardener’s Question time’ and ‘Pollinators’ Corner’ featuring insect puppet making with Fetch Theatre Company and ‘meet the pollinators’ with Jenny Ogden. 

In 2022, we also ran the first Hellens Garden Festival Schools day, welcoming 45 pupils from Much Marcle Primary school KS2, inspiring them to think about the planet and how we can each do our bit to create positive change and tread more lightly. 

2022 also marked Gail Calthrop’s last year as Creative Director. Former Steiner School parent, nurse and mindfulness practitioner at St Michael’s Hospice, Gail has been the life force of this event for the past 16 years.

Her vision, tenacity, creativity and generosity of spirit are the foundations of Hellens Garden Festival. She will be much missed but we will continue to grow and flourish!

HGF 2022 raised a record amount for our beneficiaries

£17250 for St Michael’s Hospice
£5750 for Back to the Wild CIC

Hellens Garden Festival 2021

Our 2021 Festival was truly amazing!

We were so delighted to shake off the Covid blues, and hold our unique Festival as a ‘feet through the gate’ event once again. We welcomed 3,000 visitors over the two days, to enjoy a huge array of local exhibitors, plant growers, musicians, talks and forums, creative family activities, sculpture trail, local food and drink, and so much more.

Hellens gardens, meadow and grounds thrummed with a diversity of people and activities, warmed by beautiful summer sunshine.

We shared our message of ‘Together, We are the Seeds of Change’, with many well attended talks and forums including; Seeding Change in our Garden, Foraging for Everyone, Make Do and Mend, Preserving the Harvest, and Zero Carbon Herefordshire.

Working together, even in the smallest of ways, we can find solidarity and solutions to sustain ourselves, all communities and our precious planet. We celebrate the fact that our Festival is leading the way in exploring how we can create a sustainable and greener approach for the benefit of all of us and our Earth.

HGF 2021 raised £13,500 for St Michael’s Hospice and £4,500 for Back to the Wild CIC.

In the Get Growing Tent, 2021 well known gardeners, Hannah Genders, Tamsin Westhorpe, Terry Walton and John Cunningham, give advice and answer questions about garden problems.

‘Seeding Change in your Garden’

Topics from pruning to how to deal with pests and diseases in an organic way are covered in an entertaining way.
Sit back and relax with a cup of tea and a notepad to jot down any tips!

Hellens Garden Festival Reimagined 2020

Following a hopeful rescheduling of the Festival from June to 22-23rd August, Covid continued and so we enthusiastically decided to Re-Imagine the Festival and a Virtual, Online Event was born. We embraced the challenges of this new medium and were delighted to share our offer with many, many ‘visitors’. We had a jam packed weekend of creative, engaging and pertinent talks, live forums, workshops & films.

Highlights included the LIVE forum talk ‘Gardening for the Planet’ with acclaimed Author, Columnist and Gardener Tamsin Westhorpe and guests and our film released over that weekend ‘A stroll through the gardens and grounds of Hellens’. Depite restrictions we wanted to share the beauty and magic of Hellens. Find out about the ancient and rare pear tree collection, the long Garden, physic garden and meadows, and discover which well known Chelsea Award winning Garden Designer is creating a new garden at Hellens.

We launched a Just Giving page and to complement our digital weekend, we curated a month long Sculpture Trail and Art Exhibition in Hellens Manor gardens and grounds. Donations to this Trail, sponsor support and sculpture commissions were generous and we are delighted that we are able to donate

£6,700 to St Michaels’ Hospice &

£2,233 to Back to the Wild CIC projects

All our Virtual events are still available on our Hellens Garden Festival YouTube Channel to watch and enjoy.

We are very grateful to all the people who contributed and supported our Re-Imagined Festival; it was an adventure!

Highlights of the 2019 Festival

Hellens from the air – This was the stunning Tri-spiral mandala created by 2019 Festival visitors – folk of all ages contributed over the 2 day event, transforming junk into beauty and writing on rustic log slices their unique response to the question

‘What matters to you?’…

Hellens Garden Festival celebrated its 13th year despite all the British climate had to throw at us – Thunderstorms, high winds, heavy showers and blessedly many spells of beautiful sunshine.

Our theme for 2019 was ‘Hands in the Soil, Good for the Soul’ and a myriad of activities was on offer to over 2,500 visitors.

Highlights of the 2019 included; Festival opening by John Challis (‘Boycie’) and Radio 2 allotment guru Terry Walton, interactive, horticultural masterclasses in our new ‘Get Growing Space’, a magical woodland Sculpture Trail, Innovative ‘Let’s Be the Change’ forums on Sustainability & Outdoor Learning.  Catcher Media took up residency in the Georgian stables and screened some of their wonderful films, children and adults engaged in Wild Play and mandala making, there was poetry and birds of prey demonstrations in the wildflower meadow and the usual fantastic local food, drink, live music & inclusive, inspiring atmosphere.

This year, we were delighted to be able to give our largest donations to date, £12,327.50 to St Michael’s Hospice and £4,327.50 to Back the Wild CIC.

Highlights of the 2018 Festival

Following the 2018 Festival, we were delighted to donate profits of £10,660 to St Michael’s Hospice and £3,544 to Back to the Wild.

We are so grateful to all the exhibitors, visitors, volunteers, sponsors and supporters who helped it happen.

 Thank you!

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’.

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.

Highlights of the 2017 Festival

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.