Chris Eley has been a grower working for himself in Spalding for 50 years in October.
But he’s the first to admit he doesn’t know the names of the plants in his garden, and usually learns them from visitors to the home he shares with his wife Gill in Kellett Gate, Low Fulney.
So next weekend (June 29 and 30) should be a big education for Chris when he and Gill open their garden on both days in aid of Help for Heroes.
It’s a beautiful garden, entirely created by Chris from what was a field when the family home was built there in 1972.
Chris has worked on it steadily over the years and never thought of opening it to the public before – although Gill says a group from Broad Street Methodist Church make an annual pilgrimage – until something happened to shock the world last month.
The brutal killing of a soldier on a London street and subsequent television scenes of colleagues with missing limbs laying tributes at the scene stayed in Chris’s thoughts.
He says he wasn’t so much moved – “I’m not that sort”, he says – but the incident sparked a discussion in the pub with friends the following Saturday night.
Chris says: “There were six of us and I had the bright idea about opening the garden for Help for Heroes.
“I saw the chap on television who was murdered in London and then saw soldiers there with false legs. I do feel they need support and I thought to myself I could probably do something. The garden looked quite nice because I had had some help and our friends thought it a great idea.”
The couple’s son Simon, who helps run the business, will be helping out on the day along with his wife Katie.
Visitors can expect to see a large formal garden at the front – probably the location for a marquee during the open weekend.
Going into the rear garden, the eye is drawn past a hosta bed to a walkway , dripping with wisteria at the time of our visit, and with pots and hanging baskets of fuchsias, begonias and roses decorating the walkway which ends in an attractive urn and stone figure.
That leads on to a group of silver birches and flower beds, and to glasshouses where Chris grows the majority of the plants in the garden from cuttings.
The one-and-a-half acre garden is filled with beds and borders, tubs and hanging baskets, a rockery, fish pond and waterfall, a frog pool as well as a vegetable garden.