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Secret gardens of Somerset

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 February 2014

Neil Booth

Garden lovers are saving dates in their diaries with help from the National Gardens Scheme’s famous ‘Yellow Book’ to plan this year’s visits and appreciate the fruit of someone else’s labours

The National Gardens Scheme (NGS) has been opening fine gardens to the public for charity since 1927 when you could have enjoyed a visit for just a shilling a head.

Once again, proud garden owners in England and Wales are preparing to allow visitors a glimpse of their colourful corner of the world. In doing so they are helping to raise more than £2.5million each year for nursing, caring and gardening charities supported by the NGS.

For some garden owners this is the first year they have opened their garden gates to the public and Somerset County Organiser Lucy Hetherington says for them the experience will be a little nerve wracking, very enjoyable and extremely rewarding.

“I say nerve wracking because in addition to all the gardening in the run up to an open day, the lawn cutting, the weeding, constant battles with nature, late and early seasons - not to mention the wildlife that seems to be working against us - there are quite a lot of other things to think about and organise.”

This includes thinking about possible teas and plant sales, as 
well as parking arrangements - not 
to mention publcity and those all important NGS yellow road signs.

Lucy adds: “Then the new garden owner can experience for the first time the joy of seeing and hearing visitors enjoying themselves in 
their special garden. A wonderful feeling to share what has been developed and cared for with 
so much love.”

Each new garden has already 
been through the daunting process of contacting the NGS and being approved for opening by the County Organiser the year prior to the 
first opening.

The NGS is always looking for 
new and interesting gardens to 
join the scheme. If you are interested in opening please contact the Somerset County Organiser, Lucy Hetherington, at lucyhetherington@btinternet.com

The Yellow Book 2014 is your essential guide to the thousands of gardens that open for the NGS. To order yours visit ngs.org.uk or call 01483 213910.

Over 100 gardens will be opening in Somerset this year, they include regular supporters of the NGS and its charities, as well as 19 new gardens - such as two tucked away off the main streets in Glastonbury.

JACOB’S LOFT

Glastonbury, BA6 9JJ

From A39 turn off at Beckery roundabout into Sedgemoor Way. Take second right into the car park. The garden is at 7/9 Northload Street

For the first time, visitors to Glastonbury will be able to slip off the main vibrant high street into a tranquil walled courtyard garden being opened for the NGS by Bill Knight.

Set alongside a row of pretty holiday cottages dating from Georgian and Victorian times, this town garden is full of colour in the summer, with features such as a 200 year old olive tree from Tuscany, a fig tree and Bill’s collection of old agricultural tools.

Added bonus: Enjoy two for the price of one – also visit the nearby St Margaret’s Chapel Garden.

Open: 5 & 6 July, 2pm-4pm

ST MARGARET’S CHAPEL GARDEN

Glastonbury, BA6 9JJ

Behind 38 Magdalene Street

Created in the remains of the 15th century Royal Magdalene almshouses and 11th century chapel, this hidden gem of a garden will take your breath away.

A trustee, Sandra Booth says: “Visitors will feel surprise at such a glorious garden in the midst of a bustling town centre, and while looking around they will experience the deep peace and tranquillity that our garden gives to our pilgrims and visitors.

“It may encourage them to make a special tranquil place in their own gardens and they may realise it does not necessarily need space to do this, a quiet spiritual haven can be created anywhere.”

This award winning garden is open in the winter Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 11am-3pm and then daily 10am–4pm from late March to October.

Added bonus: A display of iconography

Open for NGS: 5 and 6 July, 2pm-4pm.

9 CATHERSTON CLOSE

Frome BA11 4HR

From the town centre head west towards Shepton Mallet on the A361.Turn right at Sainsbury’s roundabout, left into Critchill Road, over crossroads and left into Catherston Close

Visitors are taken by surprise when they discover the size of this back garden in Catherston Close; 16 years ago, owners Dave and Prue Moon bought some extra land from their neighbouring farmer.

As well as a pond, bog garden, patios, pergolas and a wild flower meadow area, there are far reaching countryside views, a vegetable and fruit garden.

The garden has won gold in the Frome in Bloom competition eight times and this is the fourth year it has opened for the NGS.

Added bonus: An exhibition of garden photography by Dave is on display in the summerhouse

Open: 25 June and 2, 9, July from 12 until 5pm.

RUGG FARM

Limington, BA22 8EQ

Exit the A303 onto the A37 to Yeovil/Ilchester. At first roundabout go left to Limington, then second right.

In 2007 a group of five friends sold their respective properties in order to buy one between them with potential for creating a garden.

This two-acre plot, created around former farmhouse and farm buildings includes ornamental, kitchen and cottage gardens, orchard, wildlife meadows and woodland plantings.

The group has opened for the NGS since 2012 and they love showing fellow gardeners around.

Added bonus: Metalwork designs by Andy Stevenson Garden Sculptures.

Open: 10 July, 5pm-8pm; 13 July, 11am-5pm.

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