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Peek over your neighbour’s wall on National Garden Schemes days

On National Garden Schemes Days, gardeners open their gates to share their beautiful gardens with the public & raise money for their chosen charity.
National Garden Schemes Days are the perfect opportunity for nosey gardeners to look around other private gardens and at the same time make a contribution to a local charity. take place almost all year round and locations can be found on the NGS website.

May is certainly one of the best months to enjoy spectacular early summer blooms in many Devon gardens. Let me give you a quick overview and highlight some of these NGS gardens for you to take your pick, or maybe visit them all!

How the NGS works

The National Gardens Scheme (NGS) is a UK-wide organization that assists gardeners in opening their private gardens to the public. Altogether 4000 gardens of all sizes take part in the scheme. While some gardeners open their garden throughout the year, others choose to open for just one or two days per year, so you need to be on the ball if you want to peep inside these interesting private Edens. If you are really serious about visiting these hidden gems, you can buy the Yellow Book direct from the NGS for £9.99 or just check the website regularly.

Size isn’t everything, and many of the gardens are just ordinary back yards tended with loving care. As well as browsing the borders and noting the names of lesser known plants, visitors will usually find the green-fingered owners are on hand to discuss their pride and joy. What better to way to pick up new ideas for your own plot, find out what plants thrive locally and learn some handy gardening tips?

On the larger garden side, you have with its Grade II listed garden. This National Trust property is organizing a special National Garden Schemes Day on Sunday 12 May, 2013 from 9am to 5.30pm and normal NT admission applies. The extensive gardens are perfect for a picnic or you can stroll the stunning Rhododendron Valley that will be in full display during May. Visit the Rose Gardens and admire the Wendy House with its own perfect miniature garden.

Some of the NGS gardens offer refreshments and proceeds go to charities such as the , and .

National Garden Scheme Days in your corner of Devon

Altogether there are 28 National Garden Scheme events in during May so here are some of my personal favourites:

Haldon Grange in Dunchideock has 12 acres of magnolias, azaleas and camellias around a series of small water features. , eat your heart out! They are open Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays throughout May.

Mothecombe House has walled gardens and Lutyens architecture. The bluebell woods lead down to the private beach and are only open 4-5 May, 2013.

For moorland plants and a superb organic kitchen garden example, head to Andrew’s Crowne in Belstone on the Bank Holiday (26-27 May, 2013).

Ash Tree Farm at opens its wildlife garden to the public on 5-6 May, the same weekend as Sedgewell Coach House Gardens at Olchard, which features some interesting sculptures.

Whitstone Farm at Bovey Tracey is home to the National Collection of Eucryphias and is only open Sunday 5 May, 2013.

A new addition to the NGS is the one-acre Carpenter’s Cottage at Knowle and is described as a plantaholic’s cottage garden. Open Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May, 2013 from 2-5pm.

If you like trees, Moretonhampstead Gardens offer acers, rhodos and an arboretum and has irresistible plant sales. Open 18-20 May, 2013, it also has a reputation for its afternoon teas.

Choose one, or visit them all. We hope you have a wonderful day out thanks to the NGS.

Have you ever opened your garden to the public, our attended an NGS event? What was particularly special about your experience? We’d love you to share your favourite garden with us by commenting below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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