GARDENERS and families braved the unpredictable British summer weather to make a returning festival a success.

The Garden Festival at Hellens Manor, Much Marcle, near Ledbury, hosted its first reception evening on Friday, June 6, when RHS Judge and TV presenter, James Alexander-Sinclair helped raise more than ?850 for St Michael's Hospice as guest speaker and auctioneer.

He was joined by fellow guests and leading figures in the horticultural world, Hannah Genders and Terry Walton, before the festivities continued for the eighth year on Saturday and Sunday, June 6-8 with more than 70 exhibitors and demonstrators.

Organisers Gail Calthrop and Michael Phillips said: ?We are delighted with this year?s Garden Festival. ?The show must go on? was our motto and what a show it was.

"The turnout by visitors and exhibitors was brilliant especially those that braved the very British weather on Saturday."

Mr Alexander-Sinclair said: "This is certainly one of the new and exciting festivals that is putting Chelsea to shame. It is charming, rural, rustic and serene.

"The Garden Festival is all about being in the beautiful grounds of an amazing house surrounded by lots of very happy people."

All the profits from the festival will be donated to the St Michael?s Hospice.

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