Colourful Morris dancers brought music, movement and merriment to a Hampshire care home as residents and staff celebrated the latest addition to their nationally recognised garden.
Traditional English folk dances performed by the New Forest Meddlars prompted smiles all round among the open-air audience at Woodpeckers in Brockenhurst.
It was part of a day of celebrations to mark the opening of the Colten Care home’s new greenhouse, enabling residents to enjoy hands-on gardening activities all year round.
Accompanied by three accordions and a flute, and proudly holding their sticks and handkerchiefs, half a dozen Meddlars delighted the spectators with their rhythmic stepping and ornate costumes featuring waistcoats, beads and bells.
The culmination of the event came as Woodpeckers’ Sheila Burn cut the ribbon to officially open the greenhouse.
Moments later, fellow resident Georgina Chesters gave it a public blessing, declaring: “God bless this greenhouse and all that grows in it.”
The performers then gave the greenhouse a ‘Morris seal of approval’ by dancing through and around it several times.
They were joined in their performance by Bumble, the mascot of young carers’ charity Honeypot, a community cause supported by both the Meddlars and Woodpeckers.
Among those taking in the spectacle of Morris dancers choreographing moves with a giant bumble bee in tow was Woodpeckers resident and gardening enthusiast Richard Bavister.
“This is a day of celebration,” Richard said. “The garden is already wonderful – my room looks out on beautiful magnolia trees – and I am now looking forward to spending a lot of time in the greenhouse planting seedlings and potting up plants.”
Woodpeckers’ Senior Gardener Chris Marsh said: “There is a strong gardening culture here at Woodpeckers. It is integral to the whole home especially in the summer.
“The wheelchair-friendly greenhouse is the newest addition to the garden, somewhere we can keep plants fresh, do cuttings from our salvias and hydrangeas and so on, and keep seedlings.
“Residents will be able to come in independently and do potting at their leisure whatever the weather.
“The greenhouse will also support the activities of our garden club and host the charity plant stall when we have events here such as the NGS days.”
Home Manager Priya Joseph said: “Our garden is not just a pretty space. It is used every day by residents to increase mobility, stay active and help mental health.
“The garden is an extension of the rest of the home and the new greenhouse strengthens the message that it is for everyone, even in wet weather.”
Morris Dancer Dave Ellis, who led the Meddlars as ‘squire for the day’, said: “This is our first time here. We’ve had a great turnout and enjoyed ourselves very much. It’s a lovely setting, a beautiful garden and clearly a very nice home for all the residents.”