June Skinner’s stunning garden is more than just a labour of love.
It’s been a life-saver for the former interior designer, who will open her one-acre site, complete with a scented orchard, laburnum arch, secret spots and carefully positioned sculptures, to the public this Sunday.
Taking part in National Gardens Weekend is June’s way of giving something back to charities after she battled cancer. The non-smoker was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010 and underwent an operation to remove a third of her lung at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.
But crafting her beautiful Peak District garden helped her on the road to recovery.
The green-fingered grandma – who used to run an interior and garden design firm on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield, and is now in remission – said: “I had started on the garden when I got cancer, much to my amazement because I was fit at the time.
“When I had an operation and tried to cope with that I wrote to National Gardens Society to see if they would be willing to take it on their books. They opened it and gave all the money to carers of people with cancer.
“After that it gave me some sort of opportunity, I wasn’t very well but I just had to pull myself together and try to make it beautiful.
“It did give me almost a purpose for life. You just feel as though it’s the end of your life when you are diagnosed with cancer, you can’t see that there is going to be another year.
“Now the garden is absolutely glorious. It’s one acre and is mostly herbaceous. And I am a plantoholic so I love buying different plants!”
June and her husband are hosting their open garden at their home Cherry Hill, The Nook, Eyam, from 1pm to 5pm this Sunday.
Entry is £3 and homemade cakes cost £2. There will also be a children’s den.
Over in Sheffield everything in Sue and Roger Thompson’s garden is coming up rosy – but they’ve had a bit of wait for Mother Nature to do her magic.
The couple who live at Owl End, Newfield Lane, Dore, have been working for hours on end come sun, wind, snow and rain to prepare the acre-and-a-half plot for this weekend.
It’s the fourth year running they have taken part in National Gardens weekend, and this year, says Sue, has been the hardest yet.
“Because of the crazy weather everything is three weeks behind what it should be,” she said.
“Winter wasn’t good and that was followed by more snow in March which really put everything back.
“But we have been working hard, me on the flowers and Roger on the fruit and veg, and hopefully everything should be ready for the weekend.”
The garden, plus Roger and Sue’s small piece of woodland and meadow, will be open from 2pm until 6pm each day.
Entry is £3.50 for adults, and plants and cakes will be sold to raise money for the South Yorkshire Motor Neurone Association.
n Visit www.ngs.org.uk for more details of gardens opening this weekend.