Two visitors find a quiet spot to sit and enjoy the garden at 26 Harlands Villas.

Nearly £1,300 raised at Uckfield open gardens event

Nearly £1,300 was raised for charity yesterday when two Uckfield neighbours opened their gardens to the public.

Robert Crozier and Dee Russell, who live at 26 and 27 Harlands Villas, Eastbourne Road, raised £675 themselves and match funding from Barclays Bank Uckfield branch will boost the figure by another £600.

All the money will go to St Peter and St James Hospice.


Dee Russell in her front garden at 27 Harlands Villas.

Both gardens have won Brighter Uckfield awards and their styles are very different. Dee’s is divided into separate rooms, with a pond and water feature, while Robert’s is a traditional Victorian style with a rose garden and annual planting. Each has a productive fruit and vegetable garden.


Jane O’Hara and Katie Aldred sell jams during the open gardens event at Harlands Villas yesterday.

Dee returned to her childhood home at Harlands Villas seven years ago. She remembers the garden very much being a working plot turned over to vegetables to feed her family. Later her father turned it to grass but she has completely re-vamped it.


Dee’s sister Fran Turner manned a plant stall during the open gardens event. She is pictured here with one of her customers, Lee Pavitt.

Round every corner there is a pretty place to sit and enjoy the haven Dee has created and guests at yesterday’s event were treated to tea and cakes which they could choose from a very long list, all of them bar one made by Dee.

At the entrance to her garden plants and jams were for sale too.


A family gathering enjoys tea and cake at the open gardens event. From the left are Nicholas Tutt, Jim and Anne Brent, David and Lin Tutt, and Nicholas’ wife Shell.

harlands-villas-9-tracey-defrancescomarino-zoe-difrancescomarino-juliette crozier-bill-crozier

Another family enjoying afternoon tea at Harlands Villas. On the right is Bill Crozier, brother of gardener Robert from next door, with his wife Juliette, and on the left are his daughter Tracey Difrancescomarino and granddaughter Zoe.


Chris Naylor-Smith and his Tibetan terrier Shoes relax during the open afternoon event.

Next door Robert and Rita Crozier welcomed guests with a tombola . The couple moved to Harlands Villas 16 years ago and got on with Dee’s late father like a house on fire and the pair enjoyed a bit of healthy gardening competition.


Robert and Rita Crozier at 26 Harlands Villas.

He has enjoyed learning the history of Harlands Villas over the years. There was an old tile factory on the site of his home once – there are lots of shards of tiles in the garden still – with a clay quarry opposite which ended up becoming a pond.

He said: “A lot of people here today used to swim in the pond as kids.” That was eventually filled in when new houses were built.


There are 100 roses in the front garden at 26 Harlands Villas.

Robert said that when Harlands Farm was still a dairy farm a woman who lived at his homeused to buy churns of milk, bottle it in an outhouse and then deliver it – there was no running water in those days, just rainwater.

“It was known as Adams Dairy and I have met one of her descendants, who showed me one of the original bottles with Adams on it,” said Robert.


One of the borders in the back garden at number 26. Each spring bulbs are removed and stored and bedding plants replace them.

He also said that the bricks for Harlands Villas came from the Freshfields Lane Brickworks which is still in existence at Danehill. Each brick is stamped with with letters FLB, a sign of quality to builders.

Robert spends about two days a week in his garden and his neighbour thinks he is mad because after his many spring bulbs bloom he takes them all out and stores them for the next year and re-plants the garden with bedding.

He also saves his geraniums throughout the winter.


A raised bed in Robert Crozier’s garden at 26 Harlands Villas.

There are about 100 rose bushes in the front garden and his vegetable garden is packed with rocket, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, French, runner and broad beans, beetroot, parsnips, shallots, peas, sweetcorn, and he has fruit cages of strawberries, raspberries, tayberries and blueberries.

He even has a banana plant – but that’s just for show, bananas don’t grow on it.


Sweetcorn plants, with blackcurrant bushes and a pear tree behind them, at 26 Harlands Villas.

After the event Dee said they were delighted with the amount of money raised. “A big thank you to all those who came and supported and helped us to raise such an amazing amount.”

See also:

SLM Toyota Uckfield presents £1,000 to Raysted animal centre

One-to-one computer training offered at Uckfield Volunteer Centre

Pizza Express re-opens after refurbishment

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

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