The 12 best UK gardens to visit this weekend and throughout August

·10-min read
Visitors to the garden can walk among perennials, salvias, echinacea and kniphofia in expertly-planted plots - National Garden Scheme
Visitors to the garden can walk among perennials, salvias, echinacea and kniphofia in expertly-planted plots - National Garden Scheme

Most gardens are opening with a combination of booked tickets or tickets on the gate; you can find all gardens and relevant details at the National Garden Scheme.

Gardens opening on August 7 and 8

Mansion Cottage, East Yorkshire
At Mansion Cottage, guests can walk through splashes of brightly-coloured flowers among pale grass and herbaceous plants - National Garden Scheme
At Mansion Cottage, guests can walk through splashes of brightly-coloured flowers among pale grass and herbaceous plants - National Garden Scheme

I find there’s always an added air of expectation when you enter a garden via the house, as you do at Mansion Cottage. What lies waiting to be discovered is a veritable feast of herbaceous perennials and grasses which right now have reached their late-summer crescendo that is intensified by the relatively confined space.

Splashes of bright colour merge with the pale shades of grasses whose wispy shapes contrast with the shades of greens in the herbaceous plants which are mixed together with skill. Attracting pollinators is a major priority so that at this time of year the whole garden can seem alive with insects.

You can relax in the conservatory, summerhouse, art studio or greenhouse and you will definitely want to take home some of the produce and soaps that are all handmade by the owners. Plus, children go free.

8 Gillus Lane, Bempton, Bridlington YO15 8HW; open Saturday August 7 and Sunday August 8, 10-4pm, £4.50.

Brick Kiln House, Norwich
Explore shady woodland, densely planted with shrubs and perennials including some spectacular hostas - National Garden Scheme
Explore shady woodland, densely planted with shrubs and perennials including some spectacular hostas - National Garden Scheme

A fine two-acre country garden that envelopes you in peacefulness as you walk in and then gently explore. A broad terrace joins the house (not open) to the garden, beyond you will discover the cool stream whose banks are thick with lush foliage that flows through shady woodland that is densely planted with shrubs and perennials including some spectacular hostas.

Spacious lawns offset deep well-planted herbaceous borders and a discerning selection of modern abstract sculptures complete a number of visual ensembles.

Also open nearby is Severals Grange (NR20 5BL) where you will find a celebration of late-summer perennial shapes and if you fancy something near the Norfolk seaside, Swafield Hall (NR28 0RP) is open today and tomorrow.

Priory Lane, Shotesham, Norwich NR15 1UJ; Open Sunday August 8, 10-4pm, £5, children free.

Berriew Village Gardens, Powys
Quaint: the Montgomeryshire canal and River Rhiew flow through this picturesque village - National Garden Scheme
Quaint: the Montgomeryshire canal and River Rhiew flow through this picturesque village - National Garden Scheme

Berriew is a quintessential NGS village opening. The Montgomeryshire canal and River Rhiew flow through the picturesque village where many of the house are architecturally important black and white cottages – many with highly ornamental details such as tall chimneys and decorated bargeboards – for which it is renowned, William O’Brien’s artist/blacksmith’s forge and a museum of sculpture.

So you could happily while away a day but the very different five gardens that welcome visitors will give your visit true purpose. From a ¼ acre plantsman’s paradise to broad lawns sweeping down to the River Rhiew, as well as examples of O’Brien’s work in another garden, the quintet offer an array of delights. Children go free.

Berriew, nr Welshpool, Powys SY21 8BA; open Sunday August 8, 12-5pm, combined admission (5 gardens) £6.

Gardens opening on August 14 and 15

Coldcotes Moor Garden, Newcastle upon Tyne
There are 15 acres to explore at this garden, from the enclosed courtyard and walled gardens to an extensive lawn - National Garden Scheme
There are 15 acres to explore at this garden, from the enclosed courtyard and walled gardens to an extensive lawn - National Garden Scheme

An absorbing garden with varied interest that extends throughout its 15 acres that presents a skilfully crafted and very complete garden picture, from points of small detail in the enclosed courtyard and walled gardens to the contrast of herbaceous borders framing expansive lawn that sweeps down to the large lake beyond which are winding walks through fields and woodland.

The courtyard has ornamental water and a well-chosen mixture of shade and semi-shade planting. There is more water in the walled garden as well as a pergola terrace and the orchard area includes a rill with a rose arbour. All of this as well as a fruit and veg garden and a stumpery will capture your attention for most of the afternoon.

Coldcotes Moor Garden, Ponteland, Newcastle upon Tyne NE20 0DF; open Saturday August 14 and Sunday August 15, 11am-4pm, £6, children free. Pre-booking is essential.

Highfield Farm, Gwent
The gardens at Highfield Farm are living proof that Britain is blessed with talented amateur plants-men and women - National Garden Scheme
The gardens at Highfield Farm are living proof that Britain is blessed with talented amateur plants-men and women - National Garden Scheme

Highfield Farm is a garden that exemplifies the fact that Britain is blessed with wonderfully talented amateur plants-men and women, who create in their own private plots a huge variety of uplifting and artistic planting schemes.

There are over 1200 cultivars in this two-acre patch – which, by the way, is also blessed with sensational views to the Welsh hills – and late-summer is their zenith.

Narrow paths that wind between extremely tall perennials and grasses provide a thrilling experience of proximity to Miscanthus, Molinia, Helianthemum and many others, but there are also subtly calmer areas as well like the lavender-lined terrace and gravel area bordered by perennials. You will definitely take advantage of the mouth-watering plant sales and go home with a Highfield memory or two to plant at home.

Penperlieni, nr Goytre, Gwent NP4 0AA; Open Sunday August 15, 11am-5pm, £5, children free.

22 Avon Avenue, Dorset
Escape to another world in this Japanese-inspired garden, complete with stone dragons and a bright red and black painted tea house - National Garden Scheme
Escape to another world in this Japanese-inspired garden, complete with stone dragons and a bright red and black painted tea house - National Garden Scheme

On the Dorset-Hampshire border, just a few miles inland from Bournemouth so benefitting from the warm south coast climate, at 22 Avon Avenue you will discover an exotic Japanese themed garden that is thrillingly authentic and an imaginative variation on what to expect in an English garden.

Water is a great feature, in pools decorated with water lilies and populated with goldfish and carp and filled by waterfalls tumbling over natural-looking rockwork. Pine trees and acers are planted extensively and throughout the garden there is an emphasis on evergreen foliage both in trees to give a lush enclosed atmosphere.

The picture is completed by Japanese ornaments and buildings; stone dragons and a bright red and black painted tea house and the overall effect is one to be savoured. For a more traditional experience you could go on to the lovely Manor Farm, Hampreston (BH21 7LX) where the garden has been lovingly tended by generations of the same family.

Ringwood, Dorset BH24 2BH; open Sunday August 15, 12-5pm, £5, children free.

Gardens opening on August 21 and 22

Aston Pottery, Oxfordshire
The series of impressive, long borders in this garden are at their best in late summer - National Garden Scheme
The series of impressive, long borders in this garden are at their best in late summer - National Garden Scheme

Famous for its ceramics, Aston Pottery also offers visitors an unexpected bonus in the form of a gorgeous garden surrounding the pottery works and shop, where the decorative impact of the plants is easily the match of the decorations on the mugs and other items.

A series of impressive, long borders that are at their best in late summer are the real showstoppers; one is a riot of mixed perennials, another full of the rich colours of alestromeria, salvias, echinacea and kniphofia.

There are dahlia borders with grasses and asters mixed in, annual borders filled with literally thousands of plants, and a calming recently added hornbeam walk. Whether you buy any mugs or not, you will definitely go home invigorated.

Aston, nr Bampton, Oxfordshire OX18 2BT; open Saturday August 21 and Sunday August 22, 2-5pm, £5, children free.

Kamala, Essex
Karen Mann’s skill as a plantswoman is obvious as soon as you enter her vibrant garden in Essex - National Garden Scheme
Karen Mann’s skill as a plantswoman is obvious as soon as you enter her vibrant garden in Essex - National Garden Scheme

Karen Mann’s skill as a plantswoman is obvious as soon as you enter her vibrant garden, especially at this time of year when her borders are alive with colour and interesting, imaginative plant combinations: drifts of dahlias and exotic combinations of gingers and brugmansias, bananas, cannas and bamboos.

In some ways the garden celebrates Karen’s Indian heritage, but it is more the realisation of her particular gardening style and preference for growing semi-tender perennials that are labour intensive.

It was the National Garden Scheme’s charitable work, in particular its support for Hospice UK, which inspired Karen to open her garden following the loss in 2014of her son Jake who is remembered in the garden with a new RHS accredited dahlia ‘Jake Mann.’ Not far away in Brentford and also open tomorrow, you can also visit the uplifting community garden at The Gates.

262 Main Road, Hawkwell, Hockley, Essex SS5 4NW; open Sunday August 22, 12-5pm, £4, children free.

Pitchford Hall, Shropshire
Not only can you discover one of the most famous black and white timbered house in the country, but the newly planted orchard - National Garden Scheme
Not only can you discover one of the most famous black and white timbered house in the country, but the newly planted orchard - National Garden Scheme

Pitchford Hall is probably both the most famous and admired black and white timbered house in the country, with a fascinating – at times harrowing – family story. Its opening tomorrow will be especially celebrated as it was one of the National Garden Scheme’s original openers in 1927 and returns after an absence of nearly 30 years.

During that time it was sold by the Colthurst family and fell into a parlous state; now following the adventurous re-purchase of the house and garden by the daughter of the Colthursts and her husband, a spirited restoration is well under way for both house and garden. The grounds feature one of the world’s oldest treehouses, dating from the late-1600s that was restored in 1980.

Away from the treehouse the gardens offer visitors the chance to witness the restoration work that has been carried out around the walled garden and the Pitchford orangery, the borders surrounding the south lawn, the arboretum, the newly planted Marches apple orchard and the grass terraces that run down to the Bow Brook framed by the cascade and weir.

Nr Condover, Shropshire SY5 7DN' open Sunday August 22, 12-5pm, £7.50, children free.

Gardens opening on August 28 and 29

Morton Hall, Worcestershire
Enjoy stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside, thanks to the house and garden’s elevated position - National Garden Scheme
Enjoy stunning views of the Worcestershire countryside, thanks to the house and garden’s elevated position - National Garden Scheme

The garden of Morton Hall is a rare treat. Extending to eight acres around the elegant Georgian house (not open) a series of harmoniously arranged garden rooms reveal variations of outstanding planting and ornamental features that steadily build an overall picture for the visitor that is completed by the stunning views out over the Worcestershire countryside created by the house and garden’s elevated position.

In some parts of the garden summer borders are overflowing with colourful perennials, elsewhere they are more controlled and fitting in with a symmetrical design of beds divided by gravel paths.

For a very different but equally enjoyable garden, tomorrow you can visit Pear Tree Cottage at Witton Hill (WR6 6YY) where the opening extends into the evening.

Morton Lane, Holberrow Green, Redditch, Worcestershire B96 6SJ; open Saturday August 28, 10am-4.30pm, £9, children free.

Venn Cross Engine House, Devon
A border filled with late-summer perennials at Venn Cross Engine House - National Garden Scheme
A border filled with late-summer perennials at Venn Cross Engine House - National Garden Scheme

Momentos of this garden’s former life as a GWR goods yard are delightfully incorporated with the planting, be it the station name sign or an old signal and add to the overall appeal of the place.

The present owners have created the garden from scratch and today it is a delight for visitors combining varied interest with a seamless flow into the unspoilt surrounding landscape.

Ponds and stream provide the setting for aquatic marginal plants, elsewhere borders are filled with late-summer perennials and throughout the mixture of horticulture and railwayana is characterfully ever-present.

Venn Cross, Waterrow, nr Taunton, Devon TA4 2BE; open Saturday August 28 and Sunday August 29, 2-5.30pm, £5, children free.

East Court, Gloucestershire
Two halves: guests can explore interesting and modern artwork at this beautifully presented garden in Gloucestershire - National Garden Scheme
Two halves: guests can explore interesting and modern artwork at this beautifully presented garden in Gloucestershire - National Garden Scheme

This is a scintillating garden of two halves, imaginatively conceived and immaculately executed. Around the elegant, stucco Regency house (not open) is a garden of formal beds and lawn in a traditional style that compliments the architecture and also contains three venerable purple beeches that date from shortly after the house was built.

Initially unseen is the 2½ -acre lower garden which was started four years ago and has all the wonderful vibrancy of youth and combines a theatrical air with orderly design.

Immaculate herringbone-patterned brick paths wind through luxuriant foliage plants and grasses such as datisca, canna, and miscanthus. A selection of semi-tender plants are being experimented with in the shelter of a tall south-facing wall and in one area a new pond has been recently added.

East End Road, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 8QN; open Saturday August 28 and Sunday August 29, 10am-6pm, £7, children free.

To book tickets and for details of all gardens open go to the National Garden Scheme
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