Illyria collage

Bringing Shakespeare’s greatest courtroom drama, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson’s most baffling case and many more classic tales to life along the way, Illyria returns to Castle Gardens this summer.

Sitting under the night sky in the walled garden with a picnic in tow, all you need is a blanket and a playful sense of humour to enjoy the critically-acclaimed, outdoor theatre company’s latest productions.

This summer’s Illyria performances will take place at Castle Gardens on:

The Merchant of Venice – Friday 13 July
The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle – Saturday 21 July
The Pirates of Penzance – Thursday 2 August
The Hound of the Baskervilles – Thursday 30 August

Doors open at 6:30pm for a 7:30pm start and tickets are on sale from Castle Gardens or online via www.illyriatheatre.co.uk.



Tarts and TortesThe Apple Tree Restaurant at Brimsmore Gardens is holding a Tarts and Tortes baking and making competition on Friday 20 July. The judging will be led by Brett Sutton, multi-award-winning chef patron of The White Post, Rimpton, so you can be sure that your creations will be subject to culinary scrutiny of the highest order.

Commencing at 2pm, judging will take place over four categories, sweet and savoury tart, or sweet and savoury torte, and each winner will receive a brilliant prize. The competition is free to enter, and the overall winner on the day will have their tarte or torte featured on The Apple Tree Restaurant’s menu and will receive a voucher for The Gardens Group.


Coldharbour memorial

(L-R) The Coldharbour Hospital memorial stone before and after restoration. (Credit: Appleby & Childs.)

FOLD (Friends of Learning Disabled), which has been supporting and enhancing the lives of people with learning disabilities in North Dorset since 1955, recently commissioned a restoration of the Coldharbour Hospital memorial stone, which is situated in Sherborne Cemetery. The memorial stone is one of only a few references to the devastating hospital fire, which claimed 30 lives back in 1972, and had become weathered and illegible over time.

Coldharbour Hospital was a fundamental part of the FOLD’s heritage and its memory continues to shape the way it offers support today, so FOLD committee member Monica Atkinson arranged for Yeovil-based Appleby & Childs to carry out the repair.

The fire not only saw the end of this wonderful facility but claimed many lives too, so the FOLD’s members felt it important to restore the memorial stone to honour the victims and capture this moment in time, which affected so many people locally.


The Green Shed collage.jpg

The Green Shed, which is based at Castle Gardens, is holding three open days this summer, inviting the local community in to see how it provides hands-on, practical work for adults with learning difficulties and memory problems. Visitors will have a chance to see how The Green Shed’s clients, who attend with appropriate support, make wooden items for sale in the garden centre and tend to the centre’s raised beds.

Running from 1pm – 5pm the free open days will take place on Monday 11 June, Monday 9 July and Monday 6 August. Refreshments will be served and Barry Watts, coordinator of The Green Shed, will also be on hand to explain how members of the local community with learning difficulties or memory problems can join The Green Shed and take part in crafts, recycling initiatives and other hands-on activities.


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During the World Bee Day celebrations at Castle Gardens on Sunday 20 May, a swarm of honeybees flew into the garden centre. This caused quite a buzz among the many bee enthusiasts in attendance, who were thrilled by their timely arrival. Having become particularly taken with an upside-down pot, the honeybees were given a new home at Castle Gardens, which they quickly settled into. With four beekeepers in the team and two more currently learning, we are sure that these honeybees will feel at home at with us.


Mid-May roundup

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As mid-May approaches we’re welcoming longer days, and more than occasional sunny spells. As you can imagine, this is a busy time across our garden centres, and we’ve got lots going on that we want to tell you about.

Watch Your Back is a sun protection resource for gardeners created by the Melanoma Fund. It’s so easy to get absorbed in the gardening and forget all about sunscreen, but we mustn’t overlook the long-term impact this has on our skin. All three of our centres will continue to support the campaign which runs throughout the whole of May, helping to keep the topic on everybody’s mind.

In honour of the Royal wedding, The Apple Tree Restaurant is holding a party. As well as a best dressed contest (£2 entry) in aid of Yeovil Hospital, there will be a free glass of bubbly with every main meal (for over 18s) and a themed specials menu. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.

World Bee Day is a global initiative, creating a buzz to raise awareness of the importance of protecting bees, a topic that is very close to our hearts. In honour of the occasion, which takes place on Sunday 20 May, Poundbury Gardens will be holding a series of events culminating in a talk by the Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers’ Association at 2pm. The event is suitable for bee-curious gardeners of all ages.

We look forward to seeing you there.



An opportunity to discover the exquisitely planted gardens of Limington Village, Limington Garden Festival, which is organised by The Friends of St Mary’s, returns this month with three new gardens, which have never been opened to the public before. The six gardens on show range from an ornamental cottage garden, to an organic country vegetable plot, and there will even be some free samples of homemade cider along the way, for those hardy garden explorers.

The festival will run between 2pm and 5pm on Sunday 27 May. Tickets cost £5 and are available on the day from any of the participating gardens.