Crowds flock to popular Creake Abbey plant day
Visitors to Creake Abbey's annual Plant Lovers Day overwhelmed the small village of North Creake on Saturday.
At least 1,600 people, around four times the village's population, came to wonder at, and buy, a riot of colourful plants.
The gates had to be opened early and Creake Abbey owner, Diana Brocklebank Scott, said she was glad she had decided to provide an extra field for parking because it was needed to accommodate over 1,000 cars.
Thirty-five specialist nurseries, some exhibiting for the first time, others old favourites, have helped contribute more than £20,000 to the Wells Community Hospital Trust during the event's 11 year history.
This year that support continues but an extra dimension was the featuring a new hospital initiative, the Nurture Project, a mental health horticultural therapy programme.
The importance of horticultural therapy was underlined by A Feel Good Garden display at this year's Chelsea Flower show which has been donated to a NHS mental health unit because there is increasing evidence that the calming influence of a garden as a safe and relaxing haven can help people with mild to moderate mental ill health.
Carlyn Kilpatrick, founder and coordinator of the Wells project, said it had been shown that the therapy could effectively support people with mental ill health.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to explain more about our work to other gardening enthusiasts," she said.
Visitors had come to see and buy the products of plantsmen from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex with one business travelling up from Kent.
Amongst the stalls showing just about everything that will grow in the English climate was Andy Harris' Snettisham Plant Company, which opened on the site of a former bamboo business on the Lynn Road less than three months ago.
He sells a wide range of plants but adds expert advice for free.
The Predator Plants stall, run by Stephen Bunclark, offered carnivorous plants that entrap insects. Business was brisk with the main attraction the tall, statuesque pitcher plants which looked so colourful it was hard to imagine they preyed on flying insects large and small. Many were bought as a more colourful alternative to fly paper.
The more exotically minded could buy walnut, almond and olive trees and those who enjoyed the tactile feel of plants made a bee-line for a stalls selling silken grasses alongside sedges and bamboo.
Garden accessories included second-hand implements - now more exotically-known as pre-loved garden ware.
"I'm delighted at the quality of the plants on sale. We always welcome new quality nurseries which add something special to the day," said Mrs Brocklebank-Scott.