Every weekend in July, nearly 300 gardens are opening for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) in England and Wales - so there is sure to be one close by wherever you are. The British weather might not be reliable but there are plenty of places to visit come rain or shine. Most gardens are opening with a combination of booked tickets or pay on the gate; for further details on all of the gardens listed here and many others, visit the website.
Gardens opening on Saturday July 3 and Sunday July 4
Seend House and Seend Manor, Wiltshire
Two outstanding large gardens opening together make for a memorable afternoon. Seend House extends to six acres with spectacular views thanks to the village’s elevated position. Immaculate symmetrical box-edged patterns complement the elegant stone façade of the Georgian house (not open) and are variously planted with roses or summer perennials. Lavender lovers will covet the beautiful long hedges which will be at their best.
Seend Manor also has great views, but its pièce de résistance is a spectacular four-acre walled garden designed for the owners by Julian and Isobel Bannerman. Divided into quadrants representing England, China, Africa and Italy – areas of particular importance in the owner’s lives, superb planting – for instance in England – is matched by ornamental and architectural features such as the Chinese temple, the Italian loggia and the African thatched rondavel.
Seend, nr Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 6NX; open together, 1-6pm, £10 for two gardens, children free.
Little Missenden Gardens, Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire is spoilt with its picturesque villages but few better Little Missenden with its unspoilt mixture of houses and cottages with a warm mix of brick and tile – so attractive a setting that devotees of Midsummer Murders will recognise it.
Twelve gardens offer wonderful variety including the primary school garden and the churchyard gardens of the Saxon church. You can start at one end of the village and take a leisurely wander through, enjoying the changing planting and character of the successive gardens, large and small.
Some like Mill House with its original mill stream benefit from the River Misbourne flowing through, at Kings Barn you will discover a Frenchinspired formal garden, and Bourn’s Meadow enjoys views out to the adjoining countryside.
Near Amersham, Buckinghamshire HP7 0RD; open Saturday July 3 and Sunday July 4, 2-6pm, combined admission £7 for 12 gardens, children free.
Barlborough Gardens, Derbyshire
Right in the north-east corner of Derbyshire, close to Sheffield, the historic village of Barlborough provides the setting for five gardens that are celebrating ten years of opening together for the NGS in 2021. Many show off well-organised combinations of shrub and perennial borders, decoratively planted containers and veg gardens in orderly beds.
There are water features aplenty, such as the pond at Goose Cottage that is bordered with lush foliage and the lawn at Clarendon is good enough for croquet. Refreshments will be served at the Hollies where you will also discover a part of the garden inspired by the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech.
Chesterfield Road, Barlborough, Derbyshire S43 4TR; Open Saturday July 3 and Sunday July 4, 1-5pm, combined admission £6 for five gardens, children free.
Gardens opening on Saturday July 10 and Sunday July 11
The Thatched Cottage, Hampshire
A vibrant cottage gardens extending to one and a half acres makes a wonderful surprise discovery behind the 16th-century thatched cottage (not open). At this time of year pots and borders are overflowing with a mixture of plants whose seemingly carefree arrangement disguise Cally Horton’s obvious skills that are also evident in the propagation that goes on in the greenhouse for both the garden and for plant sales on open days.
Successive areas have their own character and features – such as the beautifully restored gypsy caravan or rose, clematis and honeysuckle covered pergola or wild-flower planted fringes, but it is the overall effect including fruit and veg and free range ducks and chicken which you’ll particularly enjoy. Tomorrow the garden opens with neighbouring Berry Cottage to offer a double treat.
Church Road, Upper Farringdon, Hampshire GU34 3EG; open Saturday July 10 (£6) and Sunday July 11 (£10 combined with Berry Cottage) 1-5pm, children free.
Manley Knoll, Cheshire
Both house (not open) and garden at Manley Knoll retain a wonderful sense of the Arts and Craft style in which they were created in the early-1900s, the house with its timbered gables, the garden with a framework of yew hedges and stone walls and period features such as the quarry garden with its waterfall, herbaceous borders and banks of rhododendrons and azaleas.
But in the last ten years, the present ownership of James and Roisin Timpson has ensured that restoration – for instance of the large pond, areas of ornamental woodland and the quarry garden, as well as refreshed planting throughout the six acres – means that history is invigorated and updated.
Manley Road, Manley, Cheshire WA6 9DX; Open Sunday July 11, 12-5pm, £5, children free.
Ossington House, Nottinghamshire
Elegant Ossington House (not open) was once a vicarage and its surrounding garden has the reassuring air of calm one might expect as well as a welcoming progression from one area to the next. Much work was done in the 1960s but it is the more recent redesign in 2014 that brought much of the wonderful present palette of planting.
Varied combinations, such as alternating Irish yews and Beurre Hardy pears to one side of the drive, a shady mixture of ferns and foxgloves, or the rich purple spires of Salvia nemorosa in a deep planting behind the softer mauve of nepeta are just some examples.
From terrace and formal lawn to woodland walks, circular lawn, new kitchen garden and the swimming pool garden, you will constantly make absorbing discoveries, but leave time to visit nearby Hopbine Farmhouse with which Ossington House shares its opening.
Moorhouse Road, Ossington, NG23 6LD; open Sunday July 11, 2-5pm, £5 combined admission with Hopbine Farmhouse, children free.
Gardens opening on Saturday July 17 and Sunday July 18
Shutelake is a working farm and the garden melds subtly with the surrounding landscape, not least in the way its terraces complement to tumbling Devon countryside. Formal close to the house, even with a sense of the Italianate, the at this time of year the terrace borders are full of perennials in warm late-summer shades of dark red, copper and tangerine. Beyond a natural pond teeming with wildlife feeds the Burn stream where you can wander along the waterside and woodland paths.
Amongst an array of birds you might be really lucky and see a kingfisher flash by. Everyone will be interested in the sculptures, children will love the alphabet trail and everyone will love the teas. A place to savour the relaxing, uplifting bond between a garden and its countryside.
Butterleigh, nr Cullompton, Devon EX15 1PG; open Saturday July 17 and Sunday July 18, 2-5pm, £5, children free.
Aberystwyth Allotments, Ceredigion
Allotments are hugely popular with visitors and this group, situated on the southern edge of Aberystwyth are a good example of why.
From the picturesque setting beside the River Rheidol to the expertise of many allotment holders and the variety to be discovered, the 37 plots provide a positive cornucopia of enjoyment. You’ll learn about growing vegetables and fruit – both soft fruit on bushes and top fruit on trees – companion planting to help control pests and diseases and to attract pollinators, crop rotation from one year to the next, and what are the best flower for cutting.
Allotment holders will be there to guide you round and give advice and you are likely to go home determined to join your nearest allotment group.
5th Avenue, Penparcau, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 1QT; open Sunday July 18, 1-5pm, £3.50 for 4 gardens, children free.
Yew Tree Farm, Lincolnshire
The NGS showcases the talents of amateur gardeners and there are few better examples than Yew Tree Farm, where this gorgeous country garden has been completely designed and planted by its owners Robert and Claire Bailey-Scott since they purchased the mellow 16th century farmhouse (not open) in 2007 and began to transform the surrounding one and a half acres.
Beautiful plant associations fill borders, including many unusual treats; the veg gardens makes them self-sufficient; a small orchard is underplanted with wild flower meadow and home to bee hives; and there is a wildlife pond with two bog gardens. There has been recent public recognition as this garden won the Daily Mail National competition in 2019 and were Gardener’s World Magazine finalists in 2018.
Westhorpe Road, Gosberton, Lincolnshire PE11 4EP; Open Sunday July 18, 11am-5pm, £4, children free.
Gardens opening on Saturday July 24 and Sunday July 25
A weekend to celebrate as the first without Covid-19 restrictions since March 2020. Most gardens are opening with a combination of pre-booked tickets or tickets on the gate; you can find all gardens and relevant details at ngs.org.uk.
Broughton Grange, Oxfordshire
Broughton Grange is a remarkable garden and landscape where there has been almost perpetual creation for some three decades. The centrepiece is the six-acre walled garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith in virgin farmland in 2001, one of the most accomplished gardens created in Britain in the new century and highly regarded in the stellar Stuart-Smith repertoire.
At this time of year summer perennials and grasses will be at their best in the walled garden where you will also be entranced by the water, structural plants and views.
But now Broughton Grange’s garden extends out into more recently planted areas such as the arboretum and water garden while the sweep of gardens down from the house, including the Yew Terrace and Long Borders, are as impressive as ever. If you arrive as the garden opens at 10am you could happily still be there at closure at 5pm.
Wykham Lane, Broughton, Oxfordshire OX15 5DR; open Saturday July 24, 10-5pm, £9, children free.
Court House, Somerset
Tucked away on the north side of the picturesque Quantocks with views to the sea just a short walk away, the garden at Court House is a hidden gem that any holiday-maker will be thrilled to discover. The Luttrell family have lived here since shortly after the Norman Conquest so a sense of establishment is hardly surprising, but the garden is primarily the 20th-century creation of the present owner’s uncle and aunt.
They took advantage of the mild, maritime conditions to nurture a wonderful collection of plants both in the main five-acre garden and in the three-acre woodland garden that they developed in the style of a Cornish valley garden. In the herbaceous borders of the Church Walk the array of plants have a late-summer flourish, including a spectacular array of salvias. On a hot summer afternoon the woodland garden is a place of cool shade where you can relax and contemplate the venerable history.
East Quantoxhead, Somerset TA5 1EJ; Open Sunday July 25, 2-5pm, £5, children free.
Thakeham Place Farm, West Sussex
Surrounded by a working dairy farm, the spacious garden of Thakeham Place Farm has evolved over 30 years and now has a rich array for visitors, especially in high summer. Perennials and grasses mix happily in various borders around spacious lawns linked by shallow stone steps. Banks of different hydrangeas will be at their best, but they are just one of many enjoyable features to be discovered by following the grass paths from one area to another.
And this year, for the first time, Thakeham Place Farm is joined by nearby Cumberland House for a combined opening. Here, behind the elegant Georgian house (not open) you will find a delightful ¾ acre country garden including an immaculate walled garden, fine trees and yew topiary.
The Street, Thakeham, West Sussex RH20 3EP; Open Sunday July 25, 2-5pm, combined admission with Cumberland House £7, children free.