New Hall opened its doors to an Over 55s Community Group for a tour of the College Gardens last Monday.

Co-ordinated by the Community Affairs team and with the generous support of New Hall this visit was a pilot event for a new community initiative that will take place in September.

Open Cambridge will be a day of discovery and exploration as the University and its Colleges go on show to the public. Members of the public will be provided with a unique opportunity to visit spectacular architecture, unrivalled libraries, fantastic art collections and beautiful gardens accompanied by expert tour guides.

Greeted by tea and coffee in the foyer, the group was led through the College’s Grade II* listed buildings and just some of its 11 acres of wooded grounds by Head Gardener Jo Cobb, taking in seasonal borders, informal lawns and herb gardens.

The group, co-ordinated by Helen Christy from the City Council, meets bi-monthly to socialise and take part in a variety of activities. For many the visit to New Hall was an opportunity to get out of the house and into central Cambridge to visit an area not normally open to the public.

Consisting of local Cambridge residents, many of the group have current or past connections to the University and New Hall in particular. One couple’s daughter-in-law is a bedder at the College while another used to play in the Gardens before the College was built in the 1960s.

A highlight for all was the Student Herb Garden, which is maintained by the gardeners for the use of New Hall students who can pick whatever they need for their own cooking.

A further favourite, with its stunning poppies, was the Chelsea Border, which contains all of the flowers featured in New Hall’s participation in the Chelsea Garden Show last year.

This was the first time that a Cambridge College created a garden for the world-renowned show, and New Hall were successfully awarded a Bronze Flora medal.

The trip brought back fond memories of individuals’ own gardening activities during their childhoods and throughout their lives. Guests were invited to collect bunches of flowers from throughout the gardens, were generously given poppy and thyme seedlings as gifts by Jo Cobb, ensuring that everyone went home enthused and excited to get back to their own gardens.

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