Open Garden in Essex

PUBLISHED: 11:09 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:55 20 February 2013

Snares Hill cottage - image by Suzie Gibbons

Snares Hill cottage - image by Suzie Gibbons

Each year, dozens of gardens are opened for charity as part of the National Garden Scheme. NGS county organiser Susan Copeland picks the most treasured secret gardens in Essex set to go on show this year.

The Old School House, Great Bentley
In the middle of this village is a charming redbrick Victorian house adjacent to the primary school. It is hard to imagine what a wonderful garden lies hidden, but peek over the garden fence and you will find an enclosed treasure full of box-edged borders and roses such a fabulous surprise. Although a formally-planned garden this is a very individual space and the planting is relaxed including pots around a seating area, mixed borders with an emphasis on roses and an architectural ruin surrounded by ferns to give a stunning structure. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, from June 5 to June 27. Visitors welcome at other times by appointment.

Snares Hill Cottage, near Stebbing
THIS peaceful 1-acre garden is divided into several intimate areas including a natural bog garden, an apple orchard, a beach garden and even fern and fountain gardens. Youll also find many water features including a stunning natural swimming pool which is bordered by romantic cottage beds. The garden is open on Sundays, May 9, June 20 and September 12. Visitors are also welcome by appointment.

Ulting Wick, near Maldon
Tucked away down a country lane is this exquisite, colourful, four-acre garden set around a 16th century farmhouse and listed black Essex barns. Tulips are a passion, bordering on an obsession, for the owners and visitors will enjoy wandering by the natural pond and stream. In late summer the striking pink garden and the tropical cutting garden will be full of dramatic, richly-coloured plants and the superb vegetable garden will be chock-full of vegetables and fruit. Open on Sunday, May 2 and Sunday, September 19. Visitors are also welcome by appointment.

The Old Rectory, Boreham
A VISIT to this stunning garden offers the chance to just relax on the terrace of the Elizabethan rectory and soak up the atmosphere as you enjoy cream teas or delicious cakes. You can also wander around the peaceful stream or delight in the display of candelabra primulas and then take a gentle stroll through woodland and meadows in this 2-acre garden. Garden lovers have an opportunity this year to visit the garden on Sunday, May 30.

Chippins, Bradfield
Here is a garden which is an explosion of colour. Wide borders overflowing with flowers mix with swathes of fragrant lilies jostling for position among delphiniums and penstemons. Agaves also add an exotic feel to the garden and there is even room among all of this to include a stream and wildlife pond. An abundance of tubs and hanging baskets completes the charming picture. Open days are Saturdays, May 22 and June 19. There is also an evening opening on Saturday, July 10. Visitors are welcome by appointment, from May to July only.

Barnards Farm, West Horndon
One of the best, and certainly the biggest garden in Essex, Barnards Farm in West Horndon
is always a favourite. This amazing 17-hectare garden has woodland, ponds and a dramatic sculpture park including works by Frink, Gormley, Heatherwick and Lavarenne. As well as regular weekly openings on each Thursday from April 1, when picnickers are very welcome, there are two special open days this year on Sunday, June 27 and Sunday, September 5.
On these two days visitors can enjoy the 1920s cycle shop and the museum of veteran and vintage cars and motor cycles. There is also the chance to try driving a Model T or take a lesson in archery. Groups of visitors are also welcome by appointment.

West Hanningfield Hall
THIS stunning, large country garden, surrounded by farmland, was originally developed more than 30 years ago on a sloping site and has been considerably extended over recent years. There are sweeping lawns with large borders and features include a formal rose garden, two ponds, a pergola, a vegetable area and a collection of young trees. The garden is open for one day only on Sunday, May 23.

Writtle College, Writtle
WRITTLE COLLEGE opens the gardens and grounds of about 15 acres for the NGS and it is always a true favourite. This year it will be Mothers Day on Sunday, March 14, when the gardens first open and the college will have its restaurant open too. The summer borders and flowers will be in full bloom for the second open day on Sunday, July 11.

Feeringbury Manor, Feering
This much-loved garden has delightful flower beds surrounding the manor house and ponds with a fascinating mix of bulbs, herbaceous plants, shrubs and climbers. Tulips flower under blossom in April and May while wild flowers peak in early summer. Visitors can enjoy the superb sculptures, gazebo, gates and trellis designed and made by the renowned sculptor Ben Coode-Adams. Open days are Thurdays and Fridays, May 6 to October 1, but the gardens are not open during August. Visitors are also welcome by appointment.

Wickham Place Farm, Wickham Bishops
Renowned for its enormous wisterias in May and June, Wickham Place Farm is nevertheless a garden for all seasons. There are 14 acres including a large walled garden filled by climbers, shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Youll also find a beautiful natural pond, an intricate knot garden and lovely woodland walks. The garden is open on Fridays from April 30 until September 24 (except during August). Visitors are also welcome by appointment in groups.

Get to a garden
The NGS Essex County Booklet is available free from libraries, tourist information centres and selected garden centres, or by contacting Susan Copeland at
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.
All 69 Essex NGS Gardens featured are open for charity. Some are open to the public generally and support the NGS, but most are private gardens. Some are only open for a limited number of days or by appointment and others are open very frequently. For details of the National Garden Scheme visit

Latest from the Essex Life