"The best-kept secret in Sawston – a walled garden with two acres of trees and flowers..."

Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 9.30am to 12.30pm; Sunday 1pm to 3pm (November to March) or 2pm to 4pm (April to October).


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The Mary Challis Garden, along with four gardens in the village, opened for the National Garden Scheme on 2nd July. The event attracted close to two hundred visitors, helped by some good summer weather, raising a very creditable £1,300 for the NGS. Around £3 million is distributed by the NGS each year to support a number of important caring and nursing charities, including Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support, Hospice UK, Carers Trust, The Queen’s Nursing Institute and Parkinson’s UK, among others. We are very pleased to support this charity. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the Open Gardens day.

The Sawston group is very keen for new gardens to join in, to ensure a good mix for visitors to explore. If there are any Sawstonians out there keen to open their garden, please contact Mike Redshaw at mjredshaw@hotmail.co.uk. Newcomers can join at any time, but ideally before the end of August to register for the following year so that details of their garden can be entered into the NGS’s annual directory.

We are pleased to welcome the return of the Newmarket Town Band on Sunday 6th August from 2pm to 4.30 pm, following a very entertaining performance last year. Bring family, friends and a picnic to enjoy the music in a very tranquil setting. Please bring your own chairs, if possible. The event is free but donations are very welcome.

Our Horticultural Show & Fete will be held on Saturday 2nd September. Lots of attractions and craft stalls, including music by Sawston Steel Band and flower-arranging demonstrations by Cambridge Flower Club. Whatever your pastimes and hobbies are, there is something for everyone to take part in. Please note there are a few changes to some of the classes this year:

  • Class 9 ‘Any other vegetable’ is now split into two sections: 9A cucurbits and 9B non-cucurbits.
  • Class 27 has changed to ‘an arrangement of native hedgerow flowers/foliage (minimum three species).
  • Class 52 a photo of ‘Sawston Views’
  • Class 53 a photo of ‘The Challis Garden’.

We are particularly keen to see more entries from children. Choose from five classes in two age groups – seven years and under and eight to twelve years old.

Bring your entries to the show for staging from 9am to 10.45am, with judging at 11am. The show opens from 2pm; entry is £2 per adult. Collect a schedule for the show, including the list of classes and an entry form, from the Challis Garden and dispensers at the two allotment sites, or follow the link on our Facebook page or online at www.challistrust.org.uk. Please return entry slips to the Challis Garden (see instructions on the Entry Form) or online by Thursday 31st August. Late entries will not be accepted.

It has proved very challenging to keep up with the lush growth this year. Most plants seem to be twice the size as normal! Lots of weeding, mowing, strimming and cutting back to do. Fortunately we have had extra help from local companies providing employee volunteer groups, which is a great initiative. A group from Domainex, based on Chesterford Park, helped recently to catch up with log-splitting, shredding and turning compost. A group is coming from Astra Zeneca in August to put up our large marquee for the Horticultural Show. If there other local companies or groups out there that would like to help, please get in touch.

The wildflower meadow in the centre of the main lawn is the centrepiece of the garden in July and August. A very colourful display of knapweed, scabious, campions and yellow bedstraw, a real magnet for all sorts of pollinating insects. Do have a look when you’re in the garden to see what’s about. Elsewhere, bedding plants are starting to flourish, complementing the dahlias, rudbeckias, asters, Verbena, day lilies and roses. Always lots to enjoy!

The new building at the entrance to the garden is nearing completion, just flooring and electrics to install. When it’s finished, we plan to transform the areas around the building from a building site into a much more attractive entrance into the garden. Please bear with us.

The ‘Sawston Street names’ exhibition in the Challis House will continue through the summer on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, providing there are enough volunteers for stewarding. This has proved to be very popular with Sawston residents. Do drop in to have a look if you haven’t seen it yet.

Mike Redshaw


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