A COMMUNITY group is celebrating 50 years of supporting Ness Botanic Gardens.
The 64-acre site was founded more than 100 years ago by Arthur Kilpin Bulley, a Liverpool cotton merchant, and later gifted to the University of Liverpool in 1948.
The Friends of Ness Gardens were formed in 1962 to support the work carried out by staff and 200 volunteers. It now has more than 7,400 members.
To mark the group’s landmark year, they have organised a series of “Sunday Fundays” throughout the summer.
There will be plenty of activities on offer to visitors each Sunday between June and August at no extra cost.
Those who would like to be a member will be eligible for discounted membership once they have visited the gardens.
The fun kicks off on bank holiday Monday May 7, when the Friends will hold a bring-and-buy plant sale from 10am until 2pm.
Volunteer Tracey Crich told the News: “This annual event has proved very popular and will feature an exciting range of unusual and exotic plants, along with the everyday essentials including bedding, perennial, vegetables and shrubs donated by the Friends.
“We also have interesting plants for sale and advice from local expert gardeners, including the former deputy director of the gardens, Dr Hugh McAllister.
“Because it is our special year, we will have willow-weaving and wood-turning activities for families to try, accompanied by a local jazz band.”
The group have funded many large projects over the years, including creating the “terraces”, numerous planting projects and the visitor centre.
More recently, the Friends paid for the installation of Ness Botanische, Chris Beardshaw’s award-winning garden, the Pingo and waterfall area, as well as funding student bursaries.
The gardens is a centre of botanical excellence, with superb collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, the national collection of rowans and outstanding Sino-Himalayan specimens.
Tracey added: “All money raised from the plant sale and from other Friends’ fundraising this year will go towards helping achieve several potential targets.
“They include the refurbishment of the potting shed area, providing an education facility for children, and building a new greenhouse, which will help weatherproof our visitor experience.”
Normal garden admission charges apply (Friends go free) for the Sunday Fundays. The bring-and-buy plant sale has a nominal entrance fee only.
For more details visit www.nessgardens.org.uk