Eddie’s prickly friends are his ideal companions – find out more from the man himself next weekend

Retired gardener Eddie Weekes will introduce visitors to some prickly and exotic friends at an historic greenhouse next week.

Eddie, a volunteer with the Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group, has grown cacti and succulents for 30 years and he will be telling the public about his collection when the site hosts a Heritage Open Days on September 12th and 13th. Entrance will be free and the greenhouse will be open from 11am to 4pm each day.

Eddie Weekes with some of his plants.

The plants share Eddie’s flat in Hastings and he has found them to be ideal companions, he says: “All I have is a balcony and I can keep lots of succulents, rather than trying to grow an oak tree.”

He joined the greenhouse volunteers 18 months ago and belongs to the British Cacti and Succulent Society.

He added: “I love coming to the greenhouse; it gets me out of my flat and I have always wanted a greenhouse of my own and now I have one.  I come here every day to water the plants.

“I think the greenhouse is a hub where people can congregate; it’s like a post office in a village where people get together.”

Eddie also grows bonsai trees and another volunteer, Ron Clark, displays carnivorous plants. 

The open days will give visitors a chance to track the progress of the group’s Crowdfunding campaign which has so far raised more than £3,000 towards its £10,000 target. While a generous supporter has pledged most of the cash needed to put a permanent roof on the greenhouse, money raised by Crowdfunding will provide lighting and power so that the greenhouse can be open all year, it will also pay for re-pointing of ageing brickwork, construction of a perimeter fence, an emergency gate and other improvements.

Succulents and cacti at the Alexandra Park greenhouse.

Donors of more than £20 will receive a cotton bag and an invitation to a party in the park when the restoration has started and Covid-19 guidance allows.

The greenhouse has hosted various talks, workshops, and sessions to plant and grow vegetables and herbs, plus events such as Halloween parties.

The project’s aim to be a community hub is supported by Fergus Garrett, head gardener and chief executive of Great Dexter at Northiam.

Fergus, who gave a talk in support of the greenhouse group four years ago, said: “The project has already been a great success, thanks to the hard work of the community; now it needs extra support to take it a stage further.

“The greenhouse encourages local producing, local buying, and is also an important focal point for the people it serves.”

Visit www.our-greenhouse.org  for information of our work to date and watch our video at https://youtu.be/KxOYtb3WaQY

Supporters  can contribute at crowdfunder.co.uk/lets-raise-the-roof-and-grow-together 

The greenhouse  is open for plant sales and donations on Saturdays, 10.30am-1.30pm, and Wednesdays, 11am-1pm. Entrance is via St Helen’s Road, next to the park’s Idverde landscape company depot.

The Carnivorous Plant Society can be contacted on 0983 8121266, the British Cactus and Succulent Society on 01424 755690, Bonsai tree information from Bill & Ben Bonsai Men on 01424 755690, and Great Dixter’s opening hours are available on 01797 252878.

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