Gardens that open for charity - don't miss them!
I am just re-posting this entry because there is a garden in Sussex that opens for the last time under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) this coming Sunday and you won't want to miss it!! Town Place, near Haywards Heath in Sussex (pictured above) is one of the most stunning gardens that I have seen this season and it's open from 2-6pm on Sunday, 12th July. There's ample parking and excellent teas, and I hope that some of my English readers will make it!
We're incredibly lucky in the UK because there are so many gardens to visit. And, thanks to the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), which has a network of owners who open their gardens on just a few days a year to raise funds for the charities that the NGS supports, this is a wonderful way to see gardens that wouldn't normally be open to the public.
This year has seen many changes to the way owners operate, with many gardens opening on weekdays as well as weekends, which gives Mums a chance to visit while the kids are at school and has the added advantage of less crowds. Entrance to the gardens is set at a very low rate and many serve tea, so by planning your day carefully, you can take in a couple of gardens and get homemade tea for under £10.
Some NGS gardens open on a regular basis during the season, on the same day each week, whilst others are only open on a few days a year. So to maximise on the visiting season, you need to arm yourself with a copy of the annual "Yellow Book", which lists all the garden openings around the country, by county and date.
The book includes maps and a description of the gardens and if, like me, you are a garden fanatic, you will never leave home without it! That said, it certainly helps to have a good road map when setting out on a garden jaunt (or a good SatNav system), but you will also find bright yellow road signs as you near your destination, showing you the way to the NGS garden that is open on that day. These signs are quite distinctive and have guided me to many a garden that I was looking for when I thought I was hopelessly lost!
One of the joys of these gardens is the many personal features that you find in them and some are featured here in the photographs - including a homemade sculpture and a scarecrow that particularly appealed to me. Another noticeable feature of the private gardens is that the planting is often more informal than that found at commercial gardens open to the public; and an added bonus is that owners are often present and more than willing to answer any questions you may have. These gardens are also excellent places to buy plants that have been grown on site.
In addition to the Yellow Book (available from all good booksellers, and Amazon) the NGS has its own efficient and easy-to-use website that features a "Garden Finder". Enter your UK postcode and you can find open gardens within a 50-mile radius of your home, together with information about dates and times. Most entries give details of the garden in question and other useful information including website and contact details.
There are approximately 3,600 gardens that open for the NGS during the year in England and Wales and the principal charities supported include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Help the Hospices. All are really worthwhile causes, so you know that your entrance fee is actually going to make a difference, and you have the joy of visiting a garden that is not normally open to the public.
In Scotland there is a separate organisation - Scotland's Garden Scheme, which operates on the same lines. There are other charities that run open garden schemes too, including the RNLI
and British Red Cross. Details of these will be available from their websites.
Gardens shown here are all open under the NGS scheme and include Moorlands, Sussex (above left); Witham Place Farm, Essex (above centre); and Conock Manor, Wiltshire (left). I'll be featuring all of these properties in greater detail in my blog at a later date and suggesting other local gardens to visit when in the area ... so watch this space!