Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 27 March 2015

Of Yellow Books and Garden Walks

Photo of the Yellow Book which details all the gardens open for the NGS

On Wednesday I had the privilege of attending this year's launch of the Yellow Book. It was great to meet so many people involved with this organisation, to hear how last year's funds will be distributed, and learn what's new for 2015 and beyond.

The launch marks the starting gun firing for this year's garden visiting season, with nearly 4,000 gardens opening for the NGS from now until around the end of October. I'm particularly looking forward to visiting Karen and seeing how she gets on with her openings this year.

I shocked myself last September when I found myself thinking a trip to Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons was to a local event - compared to most things I'm invited to - which in reality turned out to be a 120 mile round trip. I also realised I've yet to visit many of the open gardens which are close to home.

Something had to be done about this sorry state of affairs.

The gigglesome yews at The Courts, Holt, Wiltshire
A view of the gigglesome yew trees at the National Trust's The Courts last Tuesday. Opens for the NGS on May 18th 2015, 11am-5pm. From here you can walk to the gardens at Great Chalfield Manor (National Trust, not opening for the NGS)

So I went onto the NGS website and used their Search facility to see what the possibilities are. It was a promising result, which in turn led to a plan forming in my head. Not only would I visit more local gardens this year, I'd visit them on NGS open days, AND I'd visit those within walking distance rather than driving there.

For 2015 I've restricted myself to those gardens of around 3 miles or less of where I live:

  • Allington Grange - 1.05 miles (opens 3rd, 4th  May, 2-5pm £4). An informal country garden of approx 1.5 acres
  • Biddestone Manor - 2.41 miles (opens 10th May, 2-5pm £5). 8 peaceful acres of wide lawns, lake and ponds, arboretum and roses, kitchen cutting gardens and orchard
  • Bolehyde Manor - 1.05 miles (opens 21st June, 2.30-6pm £4). I found this was the perfect garden to visit during 2010's Football World Cup
  • Corsham Court - 3.03 miles (opens 12th April, 10th May, 2-5pm £5). Park and gardens laid out by Capability Brown and Repton
  • 130 Ladyfield Road and Allotments - 0.98 miles (opens 26th July, 1.30-5.30pm £3). A very pretty small garden, plus 15 allotments owned by Chippenham Town Council
  • Sweet Briar Cottage - 1.36 miles (opens 26th July, 1.30-5pm £3.50). A walled garden of nearly 1 acre in the centre of town
Look out for my Garden Walks blog posts starting next month. For 2016 I plan to add some gardens slightly further afield. Have a look at the NGS website - how many gardens could you visit within walking distance of where you live?

Shhhhh, don't tell anyone but I've slipped in a few other [non-walking] local garden visits already this year, including the Abbey Gardens at Malmesbury on their NGS day earlier this month. NB 2015 might be the last chance to visit this garden as the house is up for sale.

Snowdops and aconites at Lacock Abbey, early February 2015. The gardens open for the
NGS again in February 2016. In the meantime they're open for the National Trust as usual.

Highlights from the Yellow Book launch:

  • 2014 was a record year with over 3,800 gardens opening and providing 6,891 open days. This raised £2.637 million for the good causes the NGS supports
  • The third annual NGS festival weekend is on 6-7 June 2015, with 400 gardens taking part
  • Sarah Wint will be taking her Daisy Bus around dozens of gardens this summer, where she'll pitch in and help each owner wherever she's needed and also blog about her experiences. Sarah has opened her garden for the NGS previously and knows how useful some last minute help can be!
  • There will be a new annual event - a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society. Alan Titchmarsh kicks off the inaugural event in October
  • February 2016 will see the NGS's first Snowdrop Festival in partnership with Visit England

19 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to your Garden Walks blog posts!

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    1. Thanks Felicia and welcome to Veg Plotting :)

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  2. A good, interesting post. Lucky you having six gardens open that are so close to home.
    I'm hoping to get to a few local ones myself this year. Flighty xx

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    1. I was surprised at the number Flighty. There's a couple missing this year too, so I'm hoping they'll reopen for the NGS in 2016.

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  3. Two within possible walking distance although in excess of three miles and one on a bus route :) I've previously visited all three so may not don my walking boots this year. I hope to discover some new to me NGS gardens in Cumbria this year. I'm hoping also to finally make it to Karen's this year so may even see you over a cuppa and a slice of cake :)

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  4. Hi VP - the above comment is from me. Another senior moment as I was still logged on to another Google account. Duh!

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    1. Easily done Anna :) It would be great to meet up with you at Karen's!

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    2. Plus one on that, I absolutely Have to see Karen's garden this year, meeting up with you two would be a very welcome bonus... Am off to check dates...

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    3. That would be fab Janet :-)

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  5. Lovely to see the new book and your plans to visit gardens. I think our allotments are in there this year, I shall have to check. I haven't visited any gardens since having the children (wouldn't do that to someone's precious garden!) but I used to love visiting the odd one before. Maybe I'll try and see some local ones if I get the chance.

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    1. I just miss out on the nation's oldest allotments CJ - need to walk over 6 miles to see them. There's such a diversity of gardens to visit isn't there? BTW, the NGS encourages garden owners to include children. If you see an NGS opening that's free for children, do take them along :)

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  6. You are so lucky to have so many gardens within walking distance, all ours need the car unfortunately. When holidaying in this country we always take the Yellow Book with us as it means we can see lots of new gardens that we wouldn't normally get to.

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    1. We always take The Good Beer Guide with us. The Yellow Book will be welcome addition to our travels this year :-)

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  7. Like Pauline there is a sad lack of gardens within walking distance, though I did see an interesting garden in the next village over last year. I love your idea of making a plan, it would force me to get away from my desk. Shall do likewise and stick dates on the calendar.

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    1. I seem to remember Anglesey marked on the Daisy Bus visit map, though of course it could be on the opposite end of the island to you. I'm glad I've listed my dates here - it'll be handy guide to where I'm headed next

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  8. I like the idea of 'Gigglesome' - perfect desription

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    1. Thanks Mark - so nice to see you're visiting again :)

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  9. Gigglesome is the best new word I've heard in a long time! I wish the US did something like this. I wish I could pop over to England to see a few of these. I'll have to live vicariously through you. :o)

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    1. I'm happy to have you along for the ride! There is a similar scheme in the USA, but I believe it isn't a national one. I'm awaiting further details to see if it comes close to where you are.

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