Welcome to Letchworth Virtual Open Gardens 2020 and
a little history of this venture.
Letchworth Garden City Open Gardens began in 2002, opening every alternate year, so 2020 would have been our tenth year. In a normal year we have about eight hundred visitors to twenty five gardens.
Letchworth Open Gardeners enjoy meeting visitors and showing our gardens; we strive to be super tidy for one special day. We are proud to make money for charities. Over the years we have raised over £42,000 for the British Red Cross, the Garden House Hospice and other national and local charities. We now raise nearly £10,000 each year.
Sadly, this pandemic year is different. We cannot open our gardens to throngs of visitors, so cannot help the charities. But they are struggling with big losses of sources of income. To help—Letchworth Virtual Open Gardens is born!
Letchworth Virtual Open Gardeners are a bunch of local individuals who share an enthusiasm for gardening. You will find that each virtual garden looks different. They vary in size from large to tiny and in styles from modern to English traditional, from gentle to exuberant, perhaps exotic. Many of us grow fruit and vegetables.
Several types of top soil are found within Letchworth. Some gardeners work on heavy clay, some have only a few centimetres of topsoil before striking a hard layer of chalk; others have gritty, light topsoil.
Letchworth rainfall in 2019 was only 526 millimetres (20.7 inches.) We complain that we endure weeks without rain. Gardens are dry—and often windy. Growing a garden is a journey that never ends. Each season unpredicted things happen—to delight or dismay the gardeners.
If you don’t live here or nearby, perhaps some information about Letchworth Garden City will help set the scene. Letchworth Garden City is the world’s first Garden City.
In 1898 Ebenezer Howard published a book entitled, ‘Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Reform.’ His Garden City ideas proposed solutions to his abhorrence at inner city squalor, terrible living conditions, with dirty industries and housing intermingled. In the Garden Cities different areas would have different uses:- industrial, commercial, housing, leisure. Green spaces, gardens, tree-lined streets were part of the plans. Money raised from rents would be re-invested in the community.
Ebenezer Howard set up the Garden City Association. In only five years enough interest and financial support meant that the site was found and secured, architects engaged and building began in 1903.
Today Letchworth Garden City has grown. We are thirty three miles from London and a popular commuter town. But we still have the green spaces, gardens, tree-lined roads and local industries. Money from rents is still re-invested in the community by the Heritage Foundation.
Poverty remains; we have a food bank, some homelessness and expensive housing, but nothing comparable to the squalor Ebenezer Howard observed. We are fortunate to live in this thriving community.
Letchworth Virtual Open Gardeners hope you found this slice of local history interesting and that it will help you enjoy your journey around our gardens.