How to visit beautiful gardens across the UK

The National Garden Scheme and Scotland' s Gardens Scheme: here's what you need to know

Ever wondered what lies behind a high wall or beyond a sprawling hedgerow?

Longed to take a peak at another’s garden; immerse yourself in the fruits - and foliage - of their labour?

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The National Garden Scheme offers ample opportunities to do just that - happy in the knowledge that your curiosity is helping to swell funds for nursing and health charities.

This year sees Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands joining the scheme which gives visitors unique, affordable access to more than 3,500 exceptional private gardens in England and Wales and raises money through admission charges and the sale of tea and cake.

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme also supports the opening of gardens to boost funds for various charities.

Whether you’re searching for a local day out, seeking inspiration or planning a visit as part of a staycation, there are plenty of places to explore.

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With a growing portfolio, this year is special for the National Garden Scheme.

“This is our first sortie into new geographical territories, and I am sure we will see expansion in both in the coming years,” said George Plumptre, National Garden Scheme chief executive.

“Every year our new gardens opening for the first time refresh our portfolio and expand our interest and for 2022, including gardens opening as part of a group, there are more than 600.”

This year also sees the return of more than 400 gardens that have taken a break, including a number coming back after the pandemic, and some that have not opened for many years.

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“These groups both contain spectacular large gardens, but they also illustrate the range and diversity that is now such a hallmark of the National Garden Scheme which we are focused on expanding in the coming years,” said George.

“Visiting the garden of East Cliff in Bembridge, Isle of Wight, which was designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd, was a real highlight for me in 2021 and this superb garden is opening for the first time in June.

“Deep in the countryside of the Welsh Marches, renowned interior designer Penny Morrison and her art dealer husband Guy are opening their garden at Evancoyd Court.

“Our chairman Rupert Tyler will be familiar with the garden of his alma mater, Winchester College, recently redesigned by his partner Charles Rutherfoord and another new addition for 2022.

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“Naturalistic gardens in a spectacular rural setting are increasingly popular and two uplifting examples opening for the first time are Cold Comfort Farm in Pembrokeshire and Droomveld in Northumberland.

“Tudor Croft in Yorkshire proves that Arts and Crafts remains enduringly popular – who could resist that rose pergola, and two large gardens that combine history with new features are Netherby Hall in Cumbria and Shortridge Hall in Northumberland, the latter recently redesigned by Adam Frost.”

These are just some of this year’s highlights, which also include four country house gardens: Madresfield Court in Worcestershire; Athelhampton in Dorset; the 18th century walled garden at Flintham Hall in Nottinghamshire; and Milton Hall in Cambridgeshire.

The National Garden Scheme offers inspiration for your own homeThe National Garden Scheme offers inspiration for your own home
The National Garden Scheme offers inspiration for your own home

For the first time since the National Garden Scheme was founded in 1927, private gardens across six counties in Northern Ireland are included.

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The scheme also showcases the creativity of garden owners working in tight spaces - offering inspiration for cultivating small gardens.

And its impressive portfolio encompasses allotment groups, hospice gardens, school gardens and community gardens.

For the last decade, the latter have become an increasingly significant part of the National Garden Scheme’s portfolio and an established section of the charity’s annual distribution of funds.

“As well as admiring what is achieved in community gardens – often in very challenging circumstances and situations – visitors greatly enjoy hearing the stories behind the gardens,” said George.

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“In many cases these stories are about the health and well-being benefits to those involved, many of whom come from the most disadvantaged parts of society and are living with serious mental and physical health conditions.

"For many of these people, access to and involvement with a community garden can be literally life-changing.”

The National Garden Scheme provides many opportunities for days outThe National Garden Scheme provides many opportunities for days out
The National Garden Scheme provides many opportunities for days out

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the National Garden Scheme donated more than £3 million to nursing and health beneficiaries from garden visits in 2021.

Scotland's Gardens Scheme offers lovely days out

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme supports the opening of gardens to raise money for various charities through garden gate tickets, plant sales and teas.

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Most are privately owned and are normally inaccessible to the public at other times.

Liz Stewart, national organiser for the charity, said: “We’re excited to welcome everyone back for another season of gardens open for charity and to share the wonderful variety of gardens we have to offer in Scotland: our West Coast Gulf Stream gardens with their exotic plantings of tree ferns and giant gunnera; the stunning rose gardens and the heavenly blue meconopsis; our village openings where productive plots bursting with vegetables sit alongside delightful cottage gardens.

“Most of all, we know that our garden openings provide such pleasure to both visitors and garden owners; the chance to connect with other garden lovers, to inspire and be inspired, all while raising much needed funds for charity.”

To find out more about the National Garden Scheme, visit:

For Scotland’s Gardens Scheme:

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