Have you ever wanted to take a peek at the leafy treasures just beyond your garden fence?
Visiting gardens is a lovely pastime for many, whether you are a gardener or not. It doesn’t matter whether you live in the town or country, whether you have a garden or a plant pot on your windowsill.
The National Garden Scheme, also known as the NGS, have over 3000 gardens for you to visit around the county.
The NGS began in 1927; with the aim of raising funds for much needed nursing in deprived communities. What started as a small idea grew and grew into what is now an amazing network of gardens for every taste, opening at different times throughout the year. Not only do you get to see gardens that you would not necessarily get the chance to see, but also through your entry donation, your visit raises valuable funds for various charities and community projects.
At this time of year there is a treasure trove of gardens to visit. June is a month where flower beds are showing off their splendour, full of roses, foxgloves, delphiniums… I have long been a supporter of the NGS where small to large gardens have been tenderly cared for by gardeners, up and down our glorious county, who love to share their little bit of heaven with you.
Last weekend, I visited a village called Coombe Keynes in the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, which is a beautiful little village with gorgeous thatched cottages. This village NGS open day had several gardens working together to raise funds for their village hall. These gardens included the very fashionable vegetable plots, and typical English cottage plants.
When we arrived, we first went through to the old vicarage gardens that displayed various fruit trees and cottage plant borders, then we wandered through the village looking at gardens specialising in vegetables, and finally (my favourite) a beautiful larger garden, complete with pretty seating, pond, borders filled to the brim with plants that would inspire anyone with a garden (large or small), and a lovely wendy house that I would have loved as a child. The owners very helpfully had written an information sheet for visitors, explaining what they had planned to do with the garden; giving the visitor a picture of what it used to be like and what they hope to achieve in the future.
The NGS yellow book for your area is available in tourist information centres, or through their website. The book and website provides useful information of available gardens to visit, dates they are open, suitability for disabled people, whether teas and plants are available, and lastly whether dogs are welcome or not.
There are also other open gardens around the country, which don’t operate under the NGS scheme, so keep your eyes peeled for information in your local newspaper or online. I am looking forward to visiting Cerne Abbas’s open gardens weekend – 18th-19th June which have between 20-25 gardens to visit, (great idea for Father’s Day, as I’m sure you can fit in a cream tea).
I encourage you to visit some NGS and other open gardens in your area this summer; and see what treasures are behind the garden fence in your local area, you never know what it may inspire, and will make a lovely day or evening trip out.
What gardens have you visited? Which gardens would you recommend?
- Blooming Britain: Gardening in the Margins (telegraph.co.uk)
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