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Great Gardeners’ Gathering at Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

With one of my many other hats I am quite (actually VERY) involved with the DRCS (Derwent Rural Counselling Service,) a charity based in Bakewell, that I managed for ten years and am now a trustee of and also a proud member of the very active Friends of DRCS fundraising team. The DRCS was set up over 20 years ago, to provide accessible professional counselling for the local farming and rural communities struggling on their own to cope with often debilitatingly stressful situations affecting their world.

Things have changed a lot since then, but the constant need for funding has not. Thanks to the generosity of Lord Edward Manners of Haddon Hall, one of the patrons of DRCS, we were enormously privileged to be invited to hold a fundraising event there in aid of the service.

Great Gardeners' Panel Conferring at Haddon Hall

Lord Edward is very keen on gardens and gardening, and as last year he commissioned Arne Maynard, Gold Medal winner for the Laurent-Perrier Garden at Cheslea Flower Show 2012 to replant the Fountain Terrace, he was glad to think that our guests could enjoy seeing it this year, as it matures and fills the garden with all shades of pink and purple.

We held our long-awaited Great Gardeners’ Gathering at Haddon last Thursday. We couldn’t call it anything like Gardeners’ Question Time, but that was the format, with the creme de la creme of Derbyshire’s gardeners (and one notable one from Yorkshire) on the panel: Jo Walker from Haddon, Steve Porter the head gardener at Chatsworth, Dr Sue Kohler from the Sheffield Botanical Gardens, Robin Allan, now a consultant but who used to be the Head Gardener at Hardwick Hall and last but not least, Jeff Bates, the chairman, who is well known throughout the area as a landscape and garden design expert, lecturer and examiner.

Dinner was served in the Tudor Kitchen

After a delicious dinner, provided by Sue and Chris Cooke of the Haddon Restaurant (what a joy not to had to worry about that side of things!) we settled down to savour every word from the gardening gurus the in the wonderful mediaeval Banqueting Hall, with from time to time the wind whistling mournfully down from the Long Hall. There was nothing mournful about the gardeners as they cheerfully and enthusiastically dealt with all the questions from anxious gardeners, from rampant ‘Rhodies’ to Wilting Wisteria, with many a mottled berry and wizened specimen to examine, discuss and pronounce on.

We could have gone on twice as long, but carriages awaited – we had all to be out by 10 – and reluctantly the evening was called to a close.

In the banqueting hall, listening intently

How much we have made for the DRCS remains to be seen, but whatever the sum it will be gratefully received and will all go to enabling more people to receive counselling who might not otherwise have been able to. And we, the committee and guests had had a wonderfully enjoyable evening helping to raise the money (a real ‘Win win’ situation that we are so often wistfully promised these days).

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