National Garden Scheme charity open gardens

PUBLISHED: 12:59 11 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:59 11 April 2016

A beautiful Essex garden

A beautiful Essex garden


Susan Copeland, the National Gardens Scheme county organiser for Essex, profiles some of the 89 exciting gardens open for charity in 2016 and ready to be explored

EXG AP 16 NGS gardens  EXG AP 16 NGS gardens

Something New

15 gardens will be opening their garden gates for the first time as part of the NGS in Essex this year. These include a new group, Boreham Gardens and Avalon, a one-acre garden in Rochford. New coastal gardens include 15 Kilburn Gardens in Clacton on Sea and 10 Ramsey Road in Harwich. Beautiful additional gardens will also be joining some established NGS groups, but one not to be missed is the secret, beautiful garden hidden behind the nursery at Long House Plants at Noak Hill. From Pebmarsh to Basildon, there are stunning new gardens to savour.

Spring Highlights

Essex is blessed with many beautiful spring gardens which will begin opening in April. One of our visitors’ favourite gardens is Peacocks in Margaretting, which opens on Sunday, April 10 and Sunday, May 15, with cream teas. It boasts 5 acres including a beautiful lake. On the same day, why not take in Elwy Lodge? This is tucked away in Woodham Walter and will also be open on Sunday, May 15. Check out the seasonal and special homemade cakes and then take time to enjoy the hidden secrets of this highly praised, peaceful garden. The renowned gardens of Ulting Wick, near Maldon, and Furzelea in Danbury will be welcoming visitors several times during April and May. These are both very special gardens and make a wonderful day out for garden lovers, especially for those who want to see thousands of tulips flowing through wide spring borders.

Festival Weekend

The National Gardens Scheme Festival Weekend will be celebrated on June 4 and 5 throughout England and Wales, with many NGS gardens making special openings for visitors. Here in Essex there will be 19 gardens open over this festival weekend, including two groups of gardens at opposite ends of the county – one at Waltham Abbey and one at Wendens Ambo. Details of all NGS gardens open for the Festival Weekend can be found at

Country House Gardens

Essex NGS has many inviting country house gardens to open their gates and allow visitors to explore. Blake Hall, Hannams Hall, Horkesley Hall, Kelvedon Hall and Feeringbury Manor, to mention just a few, are some of the country house gardens which will be opening again in 2016. This year, there will also be three new country house gardens opening for NGS too. Braxted Park Estate opens its Queen Anne gates for the very first time on Wednesday, June 8 from 10am to 4pm. Enjoy a light lunch and then a meander around the lakes and walled garden. Little Waltham Hall opens its 4 acre garden on Thursday, June 16, 2pm to 5pm, for guests to enjoy a walled garden with informal herbaceous planting and many roses. Meanwhile, Piercewebbs is returning after a break. This garden opens as part of Clavering Gardens on Sunday, June 12, from 2pm to 5pm. The garden features topiary, a trellised rose garden and a formal walled garden.

Cottage Gardens Galore

From the four corners of Essex, there is much to explore. To begin with, come and see a garden featuring the smallest thatched cottage in England at Chestnut Cottage, part of Clavering Gardens. Indeed, for 2016 there are lots of cottage gardens to discover, many surrounding exquisite, ‘chocolate box’ thatched cottages. These include Little Mynchens in Rickling, Spring Cottage at Elmstead Market and Church Cottage, part of Langley Village Gardens. Please do take the time to visit these cottage gardens, hidden away down narrow country lanes, in attractive towns and along the estuaries of the east coast. Visitors can be assured of a warm welcome at every open garden gate.

How about a group visit to an NGS garden?

No less than 41 of the Essex NGS gardens welcome group visits by arrangement. Dates and times can be arranged to suit your group. Just contact your preferred garden owner to organise everything to suit you, including the very important matter of refreshments! One of the real gems is the sumptuous colour-themed garden at Dragons, Boyton Cross near Chelmsford. Some garden owners really specialise in welcoming these private garden viewings for groups and do not have specific open days. We invite all clubs, including cyclists and ramblers, to use NGS gardens as a destination. We also offer talks about the NGS for clubs and groups around Essex. To book an illustrated talk, call Linda Holdaway on 01621 782137

Summer Musical Evening

There is a NGS Summer Musical Evening taking place at Barnards Farm at West Horndon on Saturday, June 25, from 5pm to 9pm. This should be a great event which this year features the DixieMix Jazz Band – Rod Stewart’s backing group on his 2014 UK tour. Bring your friends and enjoy a picnic while relaxing in the stunning surroundings of this 40-acre garden and sculpture park. Booking is now open via The event will form part of the Big Barnards Farm Weekend, with the gardens also opening on Sunday, June 26 with all the attractions open, including the superb motor museum.

Have you ever thought of opening your garden?

As the Essex county organiser, I am 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, I would be delighted to hear from you. Why not contact me and share in the fun of opening your garden while raising money for such worthwhile causes? All NGS Gardens are open for charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, Carers Trust, Queens Nursing Institute and Parkinson’s UK. I am proud to say that in 2015, Essex NGS raised £141,500 for beneficiaries.

Latest from the Essex Life