Coronavirus: Furzey Gardens faces 'challenge' to reopen

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Furzey GardensImage source, Gillian Thomas
Image caption,
Furzey Gardens normally attracts about 25,000 visitors a year

A charity-run garden faces a "real challenge" in reopening after the lockdown restrictions.

Furzey Gardens in the New Forest said it has lost £155,000 in revenue for the Minstead Trust which supports people with learning difficulties.

It has begun a crowdfunding appeal for the costs of alterations to comply with guidelines on social distancing.

Chief executive Madeleine Durie said it was a "real disappointment" to have been shut during their busiest months.

The 10-acre woodland gardens near Lyndhurst would normally attract up to 25,000 visitors a year but has been closed for two months during lockdown.

The garden provides revenue for the trust in supporting more than 200 individuals.

'Pinch points'

It needs to pay for a new ticketing system, signage and other alterations to the site, estimated to cost £4,000.

Ms Durie said: "There's quite a lot of work in changing the entrance and exits and avoiding pinch points on paths."

She said despite having a large open-air picnic area, under current rules it cannot serve food on site.

The charity has also lost income from its other social enterprises - Hangar Farm Arts Centre in Totton and Minstead Lodge wedding and conference venue - as well as cancelled fundraising events.

Ms Durie said: "It's been a real challenge but hopefully we'll find a way through.

"Charities which have diversified incomes are now reliant on fundraising. We will survive but will need different and inventive ways to go forward."

Furzey Gardens was originally planted in the early 1920s around a 16th Century thatched cottage.

It also features a recreation of its Gold Medal-winning garden from the Chelsea Flower Show in 2012.

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