Three gardens to visit this weekend

George Plumptre
Birdcage and lake at Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire -

Melbourne Hall, Church Square, Melbourne, Derbyshire DE73 8EN

The garden at Melbourne is a revelation where historical importance and rarity are matched by its visual delights. Made around 1700, the garden is arguably the best surviving example of the formal French style, subtly adapted for England with formal hedged walks through woodland. The Birdcage, viewed from the 18th-century house (not open) across sloping lawn and formal water, is the most distinguished ironwork garden building in England, a bravura creation by Robert Bakewell. Elsewhere are the Four Seasons urn and other statues in lead by Jan van Nost – but if you just want a wander this is also the place for you.

Open May 18 & 19, 1.30pm-5.30pm. Entry £6, children free, home-made teas, plants for sale.

Glebe House, Llanvair, Kilgeddin, nr Abergavenny NP7 9BE

Glebe House, Abergavenny Credit: NGS

Joanna Kerr is a consummate plantswoman and her garden is testament to the principle that successful plant association is the greatest skill in gardening. Scattered tulips and other late spring specials are seamlessly followed by early summer mixtures including alliums and smyrnium with hedges and domes of topiary giving just the right amount of shaped structure. Wisteria and honeysuckle tumble off the terrace, the veg garden is immaculate and the orchard and new wild flower meadow are refreshingly natural. With the setting of the Usk Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty it’s a gem that’s worth discovering. Lovers of Victorian art can also enjoy the famous Sgraffito murals in St Mary’s, Llanfair Kilgeddin.

Open May 18 & 19, 2pm-6pm, Entry £5, children free, home-made teas, plants for sale.

London Gardens

A range of London gardens is open this weekend Credit: NGS 

Appropriately for the weekend before the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, open gardens in the capital demonstrate the rich variety to be found within its wider confines. From an eclectic group in Forest Hill, to two adjacent Notting Hill communal gardens reminiscent of the eponymous film, two delightful neighbouring plots in Camden and the spacious 40 acres of the Hurlingham Club in west London, there are gardens open in most areas. Horticultural treasures wait to be discovered beneath the majestic plane trees of Pimlico’s Eccleston Square, and the range is extended by the addition of Trinity Hospice garden in Clapham and the Garden of Medicinal Plants at the Royal College of Physicians in Regents Park. For opening times, entry prices and refreshments, go to

  • For all gardens open for the National Gardens Scheme, visit