Coronavirus: Furzey Gardens reopens after appeal

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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 has reopened to the public after a successful crowdfunding appeal.

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

An online appeal raised more than £4,300 to pay for alterations to comply with guidelines on social distancing.

Chief executive Madeleine Durie said there had been "overwhelming support from the community".

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

Although allowed to reopen as lockdown restrictions were eased, social distancing rules meant a new online ticket booking system was required, as well as a new entrance layout and signage.

Image source, Minstead Trust
Image caption,
A one-way system has been introduced for visitors to the gardens

Ms Durie said: "It has been very stressful and it's been sad not being able to share the gardens with the public.

"Even though we're able to open, we need to limit numbers to remain safe and that means our income is going to be far less.

"We're still a long way to being back to anything like normal. but this is the first step," she added.

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.

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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