Anybody who doubts that the British are bonkers about gardening should get their hands on a copy and read the descriptions of gardens that range from tiny terrace plots to rolling country estates, all jostled side by side within the pages. The descriptions themselves are worth the price of the book - £14 online including p&p to the USA from the National Gardens Scheme website. This year it is in a new format and full color.
You can also search for open gardens on the NGS garden finder page, which is helpful if you're planning a trip to England this summer and only want to know what's open during your visit. Another great way to spend a snowy winter day.
You have to plan your trip ahead of time, as not all gardens can be visited on a whim. Some are by appointment only, others are community efforts with a street or village banding together to throw open their gates. Over 2,000 of the gardens have plant sales and 2,500 "provide the all important teas and home-made cakes," a staple of every good British garden visit. The peak month for garden openings is June, some like Great Dixter are open all year round.
Cosmic SpeculationIf you’re living in or visiting Scotland, the Yellow book will not do you much good as it only covers gardens south of the border. For Scottish gardens you need to visit the website of the Scottish Garden Scheme.
I live in hope that our annual visit to family coincides with the opening of Charles Jencks extraordinary Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Portrack House in Dumfries.
Over the last twenty years he has created a private wonderland in the grounds of an 18th century manor house complete with twisted grand-scale landforms, lakes, a geometric kitchen garden of the Six Senses, woodland walks, a Nonsense Building designed by James Stirling, sculptures that include one of DNA and a newly completed comet bridge.
This year the garden is open Sunday, May 4th from noon - 5pm, needless to say we will not be there but if you’re in the area for £6 you can take the tour. Maybe I should just book a trip to Dumfries now.