If you are planning a trip to the mainland this Easter, National Gardens Scheme chief executive George Plumptre recommends some stunning gardens to visit whilst you are there
When school’s out for Easter, it’s time for the family to venture outdoors - and there are some great gardens to visit over the holidays, with the added bonus of raising money for charity while you do it.
With the National Gardens Scheme Yellow Book 2015 in hand, you can leaf through a plethora of privately-owned gardens which open their doors at certain times of the year and give visitors a chance to view garden owners’ individual creations, with proceeds going towards nursing, caring and gardening charities.
More than 70 gardens will be open over Easter in aid of the NGS.
“We encourage a very diverse range of gardens,” the charity’s chief executive George Plumptre explains, “from really big country gardens of many acres to gardens in towns and cities. Currently our smallest garden measures five by eight metres.”
Allotment holders, schools and villagers in the same streets all participate. Residents from one street in Worthing - Ambrose Place - have put their road on the map thanks to their show-stopping rectangular back gardens, which have been described as a ‘horticultural phenomenon’, influenced by an eclectic mix of styles, from Morocco, Provence and the Alhambra to the more traditional English cottage garden.
Many owners will only open their garden once or twice during the year, while other, bigger operators devote specific days to the NGS as a fund-raising initiative.
“We have a group of well-known gardens across the country which are open to visitors lots of the time, such as The Easton Walled Gardens in Lincolnshire, which open throughout spring and summer and will have certain days when all the money they’ve raised goes to the NGS. But the majority of gardens only open in aid of us because they enjoy welcoming visitors and love their garden being admired and raising money for charities.”
More than 70 gardens in England and Wales will open during Easter in aid of the NGS, as well as some Scottish gardens, served by its sister organisation Scotland’s Gardens. Plumptre’s recommendations include:
Spetchley Park Gardens, Worcs (www.spetchleygardens.co.uk): Open for NGS Good Friday, April 3: “They have an Easter walk with really gorgeous daffodils, beautiful woodland garden and a lovely lake to walk around. With lots of NGS gardens, it helps if you’re a gardener because they’re small and plant-orientated, but Spetchley is a garden for everybody.”
61 Fountainhall Road, Edinburgh (www.scotlandsgardens.org): Open for Scotland’s Gardens on Easter Sunday, April 5: In this large walled town garden, trees and shrubs form an architectural backdrop to a wide variety of flowering plants. The growing collection of hellebores and trilliums and a large variety of late blooming flowers provide interest from early March to late October. In addition, there are now several alpine beds which include a large collection of Sempervivums.
Congburn Arboretum, Edmondsley, Durham (www.congburnnurseries.co.uk): Open for NGS Easter Sunday, April 5: An Easter egg trail should keep the kids occupied in this beautiful arboretum which boasts lovely woodland walks, drifts of daffodils and new planting among the established trees.
The Burrows Gardens, Brailsford, Derbyshire (www.burrowsgardens.com): Open for NGS Easter Monday, April 6: Exotic rare plants and trees are displayed alongside immaculate lawns in five acres of stunning garden. “This has a good mixture of different designs and plants. Some design is Italian, and it has some interesting rare plants. It’s a very ambitious garden which is intriguing - there are lots of places for children to hide.”
The Walled Garden, Knill, Powys (01544 267 411): Open for NGS Easter Monday, April 6: “This garden has a lovely riverside walk where there will be lots of flowering shrubs and tulips and a beautiful walled garden within four acres of countryside setting.” You’ll also see primulas, a bog garden and small grotto, as well as mixed and herbaceous borders.
l The gardens in England and Wales can be found in The Yellow Book 2015 (Constable, £12.99), a guide to almost 4,000 gardens open to the public on behalf of the NGS. For a similar publication for Scotland see www.scotlandsgardens.org