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.
|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
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