Bishop Harper and Mrs Helen Harper hosted an Open Garden at their home last weekend to raise funds for the St Anne’s Cathedral Choir Tour.
Bishop Harper is a former Bishop of Connor and Archbishop of Armagh. He and his wife Helen live in Forth Cottage which nestles in beautiful countryside near Rathfriland.
Their daughter Catherine is a vocal tutor at St Anne’s and will be accompanying the choir when it travels to France this summer.
Bishop and Mrs Harper opened their garden on the afternoons of June 13 and 14, and visitors enjoyed two days of glorious sunshine.
Celmisia, deciduous oxtails, cupressus sempervirens, alchemilla, yellow rattle and candytuft, just some of the exotic names of the beautiful plants that grew along the roadside in the walled garden, the middle garden and the wild garden, up the pergola and in the compost area and the rovers and roamers beds.
Visitors strolled through the gardens set in rolling countryside with the Mourne Mountains in the distance. Mrs Harper welcomed everyone and answered the very many questions about the garden.
Bishop Harper was on hand to offer refreshments, which visitors enjoyed in the sunshine in a variety of different seating areas.
Over the weekend, Mrs Harper also raffled one of her paintings, which was on display in the Bishop’s very well appointed garden cabin. A very talented artist, Mrs Harper is a member of the ASU (Arts Society of Ulster), the UWS (Ulster Watercolour Society), and holds a diploma from the USWA (Ulster Society of Women Artists).
To date, the weekend had raised more than £732 for the choir tour.
Among the visitors was St Anne’s Master of the Choristers David Stevens and members of the Cathedral Choir, and the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, and his wife Helen.
“To get two fine afternoons in a row in our climate is not something we can rely on, but we were very fortunate to be able to see Bishop and Mrs Harper’s lovely garden near Rathfriland last weekend,” Dean Mann said. “Many thanks to Helen and Alan for opening their garden for us.”