An open invitation

PUBLISHED: 14:39 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 15:56 20 February 2013



Nearly 60 Essex gardens will be open as part of the National Garden Scheme in 2009 to raise funds for local good causes. Here NGS county organiser Susan Copeland picks her own hand-picked selection of highlights

Barnards Farm, West Horndon
This amazing 17-hectare garden, as featured on TV, has woodland, ponds and a dramatic sculpture park. It also now has a completely superb redesigned back garden. As well as regular weekly openings on each Thursday from April 2, when picnickers are very welcome, there are two special open days this year for NGS on Sunday, June 28 and Sunday, September 6.

Moverons, Brightlingsea
Adjacent to a stunning estuary, the owner has created a beautiful, peaceful large garden. An old tennis court has just been redeveloped into a cleverly-designed reflective pool and raised border. A courtyard garden, magnificent trees and a wide variety of plants ensure that this is a really great garden to visit. Moverons opens on Sunday, June 7 and Sunday, September 6 as well as on each Friday in July. It is also open for groups by appointment*.

Dragons Boyton Cross, Chelmsford
Hidden away just off the main road is a true plantswoman's garden, planted to encourage wildlife. There is a superb lawn and sumptuous colour-themed borders with striking plant combinations, featuring specimen plants, fernery, clematis, mature dwarf conifers and grasses. Meandering paths lead to ponds, a patio, a scree garden and a small vegetable garden. Open days are April 16, May 21, June 18, July 16, August 6 and September 17. Visitors are also welcome by appointment*.

Orchard Cottage, Raleigh
Lawns are slowly shrinking as borders expand in this award-winning three-quarter-acre garden. A new central bed will be a mass of colour with more than 500 aquilegia backed up by lilies, roses and perennials to delight the senses on Sunday, May 31. Exuberant lilies, hemerocallis, agapanthus and many other superb plants will also astound visitors
on Sunday, July 19. Another garden not to be missed.

Furzelea, Danbury
A delightful country garden planted for scent and colour. Informal planting, carefully colour themed, is woven between formal topiary, meandering to a thatched summerhouse on a lower circular lawn, past a pond and a white garden. It is all very relaxing and homemade teas are available too. Open June 7 and the evening of June 8.

Olivers, Colchester
There is a wonderful treat for garden lovers this year because the magnificent gardens of Olivers will be opening for a Spring Weekend on April 25 and 26 as well as by appointment*. Visitors will be entranced by a mass of spring bulbs set in the peaceful, wooded garden overlooking the Roman River valley. There are lakes, lawns, yew-backed bedding and a wide variety of plants to enjoy.

Spencers, Great Yeldham
While this romantic garden is open by appointment for groups in 2009, it will also be opening twice for the NGS on Saturday, June 6 and Saturday, September 5. It is a superb new addition, so do not to miss this opportunity to visit. The 18th century walled garden is now overflowing with blooms following a fabulous renovation by the renowned designer, Tom Stuart-Smith. The gardens are set in mature grounds, with Victorian woodland in a little valley.

The Mount, Roydon
On the far western border of Essex is The Mount, a delightful, family garden with three acres of formal garden and five acres of newly-planted woodland and meadow with wide walkways winding through the trees. Designed as eight separate areas, the formal gardens offer a wide variety of plants and shrubs, some fun elements and even a superb G Gauge Model Railway, which is great fun for children and adults. Open on Friday May 15, Friday, May 29, Saturday, June 20 and Friday, July 3. Visitors are also welcome by appointment*.

Glen Chantry, Wickham Bishops
Glen Chantry, is a exquisite three-acre garden and specialist nursery which has earned a huge following among gardeners. It is overflowing with plants in immaculately-maintained borders. This is the last year that it will be opening to the public as the owners are due to retire, so do make sure you see what is sure to be a grand finale.

Parsonage House, Helions Bumstead
A huge and ancient topiary yew dominates the lawn area of this three-acre garden. Parsonage House is an historic 15th century house originally owned by a priory at Hatfield. Superb formal gardens feature mixed borders and contain many rare plants, most of which are home grown. The pond was part of the original moat and is a haven for wildlife while a wildflower meadow with rare trees completes this idyllic scene. It is open on Sunday, June 7 and Sunday, September 6.

Something new for the NGS
There will be 14 new gardens open to visitors this year, each offering a real treat. Look out for Newlands Cottage in Wrabness, which is a quintessential English cottage garden, open for the weekend of June 13 and 14.

The Old School House in Great Bentley is an enclosed formally-planned garden full of box-edged borders and roses. It certainly has the wow factor. The Old School House is opening on the weekends of June 20 and 21 and June 27 and 28 from 3pm to 7pm with the added treat of a glass of wine on offer.

Greenacres in Thundersley, is a two-acre garden packed with rare and unusual plants. Meander along pathways flanked by deep borders in a tranquil and mature garden with far-reaching views. This garden is opening for six days over the whole of each Bank Holiday in May (May 2, 3 and 4 and May 23, 24 and 25).

For a peaceful garden in a romantic setting visit Snares Hill Cottage, near Stebbing. It has a stunning natural swimming pool among many other features and it opens on Sunday, June 21 and Sunday, September 13 with homemade teas available. At 164 Point Clear Road in St Osyth you'll find a plantsman's garden with more than 1,500 different perennials, shrubs and trees, including many unusual varieties.The garden opens three times in 2009 on Sunday, April 12, Sunday, June 14 and Friday, June 19 as well as by appointment*.

The NGS Essex County Leaflet is available FREE from libraries, Tourist Information Centres and some garden centres, or contact Susan Copeland at or call

01799 550553. It has full details of all the opening dates of every garden, a map, comprehensive descriptions of each garden and directions too. All 59 Essex NGS Gardens featured are open for charity. Some are open to the public generally and support the NGS but most are private gardens. For details of the National Garden Scheme visit

*By appointment No less than 31 of the gardens opening this year are also open for groups by appointment. Three of these gardens are only open by appointment. This is great for groups as the owners will give guided tours too. For instance, Byndes Cottage in Pebmarsh is a fascinating seven-acre garden and arboretum with lots to see and hear about, including a large population of Bee Orchids.

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