GREEN-fingered residents at a Hampshire care home enjoyed its debut in the prestigious National Garden Scheme (NGS) - despite the absence of visitors.

An application by Woodpeckers was accepted by NGS last year - but the ongoing pandemic ruled out a traditional open day at the home in Sway Road, Brockenhurst.

With lockdown restrictions continuing staff and residents decided to hold an "internal" NGS day, raising money for various charities in the process.

Pensioners viewed the colourful bulbs and blossoms in the company of in-house gardening experts. They also enjoyed afternoon tea on the lawn.

Woodpeckers is run by Colten Care, whose head gardener, Charles Hubberstey, said: “NGS expects very high standards so it's a huge honour to be included in the scheme.

“It’s still a little too early for the home to be open to all visitors so instead the team made a really special effort to open the wonderful gardens just for the residents. The bulbs were gorgeous, the blossom was in full glory and the lawns were verdant.

“On top of that, several residents finished the afternoon with raffle prizes, and £133 was raised for NGS charities.

“Hopefully, in time, we can hold similar afternoons to welcome friends and visitors from the community.”

Woodpeckers resident Margaret Wirgman said: "We were lucky with the weather, which helped make it a lovely occasion."

Elspeth Shepard added: "We have such an attractive garden. You can look out from any window and see how magnificent it is. The lawn mowed in circles is a triumph.”

Once accepted by the NGS venues are listed in the Garden Handbook, more commonly known as the Yellow Book, joining thousands of other private gardens that are open to the public on scheduled dates.

The NGS started in 1927 and has raised nearly £60m for good causes including nursing and health charities and community gardening projects.