Richard took over the reins of organising the Middleton Cheney Open Gardens for Katharine House Hospice in 2023 and this year the village’s Open Gardens on Sunday 23 June promises to be just as wonderful a day as ever.

We caught up with Richard to find out more about him and his love of gardening.

When did you first get involved in gardening and what’s your favourite thing about gardening?

It was my Grandad in North London who loved his garden and first inspired me to get out there.

I especially enjoy trying to get it right, making the garden work with the right plants in the right positions for sun, shade and height positioning. I like the research that’s needed to make it a success.

Why did you volunteer as the coordinator of the Middleton Cheney Open Gardens?

Middleton Cheney has been supporting Katharine House for more than ten years with our Open Gardens and since re-opening in 2021 following the pandemic we have raised £2,779.68, which is amazing. I decided to take on the coordinator role because long-term organisers, Roger and Barbara, who mastermind the refreshments, including Barbara's famous cream teas, wanted some extra help as they also organise another open gardens weekend.

It may sound corny to say we wanted to raise money for a local cause, but genuinely it’s terrific to be able to do something as simple as organise a few people to open their gardens, get teas, coffees and cakes ready to be eaten, and open the side gates.

So many people from all parts of the local area, and some from beyond, love to give generously and we are simply a funnel to Katharine House. It’s a privilege to be able to support a great organisation in some small way and we all know someone who has benefited from the brilliant work the hospice does in our hours of need.

What’s your favourite part of the Middleton Cheney Open Gardens day?

It’s a great way of meeting and chatting to local (and not so local!) people. It always feels like a real community event with the village coming together to open their gardens for everyone to enjoy, while being able to support a wonderful local charity.  

It is a lovely relaxing afternoon for the hosts and visitors. Last year, we opened eight varied gardens, which all appealed to different audiences. Each year we hope that visitors leave feeling inspired by the gardens as well enjoying a relaxing time walking around the village and savouring homemade cakes and refreshments.

What's your advice to anyone thinking about opening their garden for Katharine House Hospice?

Don’t be scared – do it! Embrace this opportunity to welcome visitors to your garden to see your different flowers, shrubs, trees and displays.  It’s an opportunity to share your garden to inspire others and share planting ideas.  It’s a wonderful afternoon out for visitors who enjoy seeing different gardens and you don’t have to worry about your garden being perfect!

You can just open your own garden or do as we do in Middleton Cheney and gather together fellow gardeners in your village who are interested in opening their garden and make a fun day of it. You may have cottage gardens, modern garden designs, vegetable or herb gardens or even allotments to open – consider everything, as everyone has a different garden interest.  

Make sure you nominate a host lead who can help support with all the details and information. There is also a fantastic Open Gardens supporters pack on the Katharine House website ready to download, which gives you everything you need for opening your garden(s). The fundraising team are on hand to help and support with resources for your event.

Finally, please can you share with us what you’re especially looking forward to seeing grow in your garden this summer. 

This coming year after a wet winter I am looking forward to some new planting with old favourites such as heleniums, and rudbeckia for the hotter bed. The RHS Malvern Spring Festival will provide the inspiration and a good few local nurseries in and around Banbury are normally well stocked. Finally, I've replanted the damper border under hornbeams with more damp loving plants and it’s their second year of growth ... so all fingers crossed for success!

Find out more about the Katharine House Hospice Open Garden days

Click here for dates to add to your diary