Our Secret Gardens - Somerset's private gardens open with the National Gardens Scheme

PUBLISHED: 21:48 02 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:39 20 February 2013

Our Secret Gardens - Somerset's private gardens open with the National Gardens Scheme

Our Secret Gardens - Somerset's private gardens open with the National Gardens Scheme

Thanks to the National Gardens Scheme we can visit some of the county's best gardens this month, as their proud owners let us enjoy their delights for a few special days each year. Sarah Ford reports. Photos by Andrew and Sarah Wilcox

Discover Somerset's Secret Gardens with the National Gardens Scheme. Sarah Ford reports. Photos by Andrew and Sarah Wilcox

Garden lovers everywhere are busy thumbing through the National Gardens Schemes brightly coloured Yellow Book to plan their visits to some impressive plots that will be revealing their horticultural secrets this month.

And its good to know that when you are out enjoying the fruits of someone elses labours, whether in a private garden or commercial enterprise, your admission fee goes to a good cause. Last year the NGS gardens that opened in Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire raised a combined total of 97,000 for charity.

One of the people responsible for choosing gardens to go into the Yellow Book is Somerset County Organiser Lucy Hetherington. She has a busy team of 14 and is always accompanied by an assistant when she visits a potential NGS garden.

The first thing that we look for is that the garden has at least 45 minutes of interest and design, Lucy explains. If it cannot manage that on its own then thats when you get groups opening together; this enables smaller gardens to open.

The garden needs to be well maintained, and we check for hazards from the point of view of health and safety. If owners are able to do teas and sell plants then thats a bonus.

Lucy admits that saying no to a garden is one of the hardest things she has to do. Everybodys garden is their pride and joy and as a passionate, obsessive gardener myself, then telling someone their garden is not quite up to the required standard is very difficult. But it is a joy to be able to say yes!

Opening your garden for the NGS can involve a lot of hard work but it is extremely rewarding, adds Lucy, who thanked the dedicated garden owners without whom it would not be possible to raise so much money for charity.

To find out more about gardens open this month pick up a leaflet from your local tourist information centre or garden centre, go to www.ngs.org.uk or just follow the yellow NGS signs!

Private Gardens open in August

Crowcombe TA4 4AG
This south-facing plantsmans garden enjoys views of the Quantock Hills. Features include subtropical planting with over 600 species of cacti and other succulents in two greenhouses.
Open: 15 August, 2-5.30pm

Chard TA20 2BN
Winner of Chards best small garden, this is described as a surprising oasis and is full of perennials, shrubs, herbaceous plants and gently winding paths.
Open: 31 July; 2, 21 & 23 August, 1pm-5pm

Bove Town, Glastonbury BA6 8JG
Is that lawn real and can we walk on it? This is just one of the questions often asked by visitors to this lavishly planted two-acre garden. Special features in this English garden include terraces, old walls, pools, formal garden and kitchen garden, plus wonderful views to distant hills.
Open: 8 August, 2pm-6pm

Commercial Gardens open under the NGS

Elworthy, Taunton TA4 3PX
A superb specimen of the Wedding Cake Tree (Cornus controversa Variegata) is much admired by everyone in this cottage garden with its many mature and interesting trees and shrubs, wild flower areas, living willow screen and decorative vegetable garden.
Open: 15 & 30 August

Turners Court Lane, Binegar, BA3 4UA
Featured in the Daily Telegraph as one of the 50 small gardens to visit, Church Farm House stands on top of the Mendips, where a Green Mans throne of living willow oversees two different walled gardens and prairie patch. A new gravel garden is creeping across the old farmyard, so visit us while we still have a car park! urge Susan and Tony Griffin.
Open: 15 Aug, 11am-5pm

Near Wellington, TA21 0LU
This mature wooded two acres is a favourite with many visitors, who return to Peter and Audrey Bowlers garden each summer for the NSG openings. The rose, herbaceous, shrub and mixed borders are unique in colour and content. There is an alpine and bog garden with waterfalls and pools.
Peter says: The octagonal pergola is quite unusual and was designed and built by me to stand over a slabbed roundel won in a raffle!
Open: 1 & 4 August, 2pm-5pm

26 Channel Road, Clevedon BS21 7BY
Our garden is designed as a series of rooms, some divided by tall evergreen hedges, explain Margaret and Michael Redgrave. These, combined with the fact that when you come into the garden there is more than one route to choose to explore, provide an element of surprise.
Pergolas and fences are covered with climbers wisteria, schisandra, solanum, roses, clematis, maurandya and rhodochiton.
Open: Thurs only to 12 August, 11am-4pm

Wrangway, Wellington TA21 9QG
This informal, relaxing, 30-year-old garden has gradually been created from an area once covered in poultry sheds which housed 30,000 chickens.
Josephine Chave is fond of hostas and is helped in the garden, with its atmospheric mix of herbaceous borders, mixed rockeries and oriental garden, by her daughter, Janet.
Open: Monday 2 and Sunday 8 August, 11am-5pm

Yarford, Kingston St Mary TA2 8AN
Special features in this three-acre garden include its array of unusual and rare trees. A central viewing tour is surrounded by three ponds with aquatic gems. The 17th-century house (not open) is overgrown with a tapestry of climbers and creepers.
Open: 14 & 15 August, 2-6pm; 16 & 17 August, 11am-5pm

Gants Mill & Garden, Bruton BA10 0DB
Well known for its historic watermill, this garden is a mass of bloom in August, with castor oil plants towering over some 150 dahlias, rudbeckia, Japanese anemone and phlox.
Because we have a wedding here very Saturday from late April to September, the garden must be in bloom without any gaps, explains Alison Shingler. Recently some small children took great delight in the pond full of tadpoles, especially after one identified them as crocodiles.
Open: 8 August, 2pm-5pm

von Essen Hotels, Ston Easton BA3 4DF
Walk through the historic 30 acres of Repton landscape and the productive, walled, Victorian kitchen garden. Also visit a newly restored octagonal rose garden, stunning herbaceous border, numerous colourful flowerbeds, fruit cage and orchard.
Open: 4 August, 10.30am-4pm

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