Exploring our county's most stunning gardens
PUBLISHED: 16:13 01 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:13 01 April 2014
National Gardens Scheme county organiser Susan Copeland reveals some of the stunning gardens opening for the NGS charity this year, including a collection of incredible private gardens open to the public exclusively as part of the scheme plus five exciting new gardens opening for the very first time
Wonderful Tulip Gardens
Essex is especially blessed with some superb tulip gardens. Ulting Wick, near Maldon, is home to an internationally renowned 8 acre garden and features thousands of tulips. As the garden has become so popular it will be opening more regularly than ever this year, opening on Sunday, April 27 and Friday, May 9 for tulips. It then reopens on September 14 and 19 for a late hot summer display. Ulting Wick also opens by appointment for groups.
Woodpeckers, at Burnham on Crouch, is another beautiful garden featuring spring blossom and a stunning display of tulips. It is open on Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 and again later in the year on Friday, September 26 and Saturday, September 27, as well as by appointment. Wide, densely planted borders abound in this 1.5 acre country garden.
April is ablaze with 3,000 tulips and fritillaria in the garden of South Shoebury, which is open on Sunday, April 13. There are also many unusual trees and shrubs to admire in this 1 acre walled garden close to the sea.
Why not arrange a private visit to one of our gardens? It is a great way to celebrate a special occasion or to spend a relaxing time with a group of friends. We have 42 gardens offering private viewings and seven of these gardens are open exclusively by appointment for groups.
It is so easy to organise a private visit; just phone or email the owners. All contact details are on the NGS website or in the famous Yellow Book.
NGS garden owners in Essex are always looking for ways to enhance our visitor’s experience and enjoyment. Several of our gardens provide homemade lunch and/or cream teas for groups of visitors by appointment. One such garden is One Brook Hall Cottages in Latchingdon, which was the winner of the Daily Mail Garden Award 2013. The judges described it as a ‘subtle organic masterpiece’ and Corinne and John Layton, the garden owners, offer homemade lunch or teas served on vintage china.
Court View in Leigh on Sea is an exuberant town garden designed to create ‘rooms’ with different vistas. The garden opens for private views for groups of visitors, as well as on specific open days. On private viewing days delicious homemade lunches and cream teas are on offer. Five New Gardens Opening for 2014
From a magnificent country house garden surrounding a Tudor house to a garden with stunning estuary views, there is something for everyone among the five brand new gardens opening for the NGS in Essex in 2014.
Great Becketts is 5 miles west of Saffron Walden and is a beautiful mature garden of several acres surrounding a Tudor house. It is a garden with much to explore and is opening on the Sundays of May 25 and June 22.
Keeway, near Burnham on Crouch, is a large country garden with stunning views over the River Crouch which is open on Sunday, June 15 while on the Shoebury Garrison in Shoeburyness, the Major’s House features a 12-year-old garden including mixed borders, a herb garden and topiary, all opening on Sunday, June 8 and Sunday, June 28.
262 Main Road in Hawkwell has island beds and borders packed with interesting plants. The garden opens three times for NGS on the Saturdays of June 28, July 26 and August 16.
Meanwhile, 62 Eastbrook Road in Waltham Abbey is a small cottage garden with traditional perennial planting and topiary. It will be opening as part of the Waltham Abbey group of gardens on Sunday, September 7. >>
Wine, Music and Songs
One of the new NGS gardens, The Major’s House at the Shoebury Garrison in Shoeburyness, is staging a Musical Evening in the gardens on Saturday, June 28. The Fidelio Singers will be performing a concert of British music in the grounds together with Morris dancers, a fiddler, harpist and a piper. Admission is by pre-purchased ticket, which is available by phoning 01702 713221, with tickets priced at £15 including entrance to the garden, concert, wine, strawberries and cream.
Several of the gardens have wine evenings throughout the season too, including The Limes at East Hanningfield on Friday, May 30 and the Wickets is open for a wine evening on Saturday, June 7.
45 Waterhouse Lane in Chelmsford is opening twice for an illuminated garden with wine and canapés. Last year this garden featured in Alan Titchmarsh’s programme Love Your Garden and the illuminated openings are being held on the Sundays of August 24 and August 31. These are ticket only events and are very popular. Call 01245 269277 to book.
Some of our gardens are tucked away in the corners of the county or in the heart of rural Essex. However, they are definitely worth the journey. Travel north to visit an artist’s garden and plantaholic’s paradise at Chippins in Bradfield, which is open on Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 29. If you want something completely different or quirky, why not go to Julie’s Garden at Stifford Clays in Grays on Sunday, June 8, where art and plants combine?
Travel north again to visit 447 Main Road in Harwich on August 2 and 3 to discover a tropical oasis with its own treasure island and treasure chest. Or seek out Monks Cottage, hidden away down a country lane near Dedham. It opens on Friday, July 11.
At the other end of the county, in Chigwell, is the award-winning 37 Turpins Lane. This small garden is an unexpected, magical, part-walled garden, showing how much can be achieved in a small space. It is open on the Sundays of June 15, June 29 and July 13. >>
From March 2014 the NGS Essex County Booklet will be available free from libraries, Tourist Information Centres and many garden centres, or by contacting Susan Copeland at email@example.com or calling 01799 550553. It has full details of all the opening dates of every garden, a map, comprehensive descriptions of each garden and directions too.
There are 64 gardens for visitors to explore, many of rare quality, from historic country house grounds to delightful cottage gardens. With more than 220 separate open garden events this year, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
All 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 more details of all 3,800 open gardens visit www.ngs.org.uk or you can download the free iPhone app to browse all 3,800 NGS open gardens.
Why Not Get Involved?
Susan is always looking out for new gardens to open for the NGS in Essex. If you have a lovely garden yourself, or know someone who has one, she would be delighted to hear from you. Why not contact her and share in the fun of opening your garden while raising money for such worthwhile causes?
NGS Festival Weekend.
The National Gardens Scheme Festival Weekend will be celebrated on June 7 and 8 throughout England and Wales with many NGS gardens being open for visitors. Here in Essex there will be seven open garden events over this special weekend including my own peaceful country garden, Wickets at Langley Upper Green.
Details of all NGS gardens open for the festival weekend can be found at www.ngs.org.uk.
<Pic. of Wickets: ‘ Hares in border’ by separate e mail>