Another $25,000 raised for Hunter Medical Research Institute at 2018 Open Gardens and Arts Trail

IMPROMPTU singing concerts. Probing questions. Sunshine. Rain. Wind. Bees. And tea and cake to savour in some of Lake Macquarie’s most picturesque lakeside gardens.

The second annual Lake Macquarie Open Gardens and Arts Trail had a bit of everything.

Event co-ordinator Lynne Turner, of Lake Macquarie Garden Club, said the weekend was another blooming success.

“Numbers were up on last year, and the funds raised over the two days for Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) look like being very similar to last year – around the $25,000 mark.”

Ms Turner said the event was blessed with calm and sunny conditions on the Saturday, but rain (mostly drizzle) and wind moved in on Sunday.

Ten outstanding local home gardens were opened to the public over the weekend. Each garden also featured a display of local artworks.

Visitors were invited to pay $5 for entry to an individual garden, or $35 for a passport to see all 10 gardens over the weekend.

“People arrived at the gardens in flocks,” Ms Turner said.

“The mood was more like they had been invited to a special event or a garden party. The mood and friendliness of both the visitors and the garden owners was amazing.”

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Ms Turner said the visitors – many of them keen gardeners themselves – made the hosts work hard.

“Questions were fired from everywhere about weed control, selection of plants, trees, flowers, fragrance, sloping blocks, pathways and so on,” she said. 

“The home owners were over the moon at the interest of the visitors. And the gardens were outstanding, especially after the recent rain.”

The rain wasn’t quite so welcome on Sunday, yet the numbers arriving to check out the open gardens and artworks “were still amazing”, Ms Turner said. 

Two impromptu Sunday morning concerts by the Novatones were unexpected treats at two local gardens.

Ms Turner said the 18 men in the group performed a great rendition of the Beatles’ classic Yesterday.

“Maybe they should have sung Singing in the Rain,” she quipped.

The beekeeping talks at the garden of Peter and Louise Cooper, of Coal Point, were another highlight.

They attracted the attention of dozens of locals, some of whom were considering keeping bees themselves, Ms Turner said.

She thanked the event’s sponsors and praised the event’s volunteer helpers.

“Thank you to the 80-plus volunteers who sold tickets and plants, gave directions, and answered questions tirelessly over both days. You were brilliant,” she said.

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