The National Garden Scheme provides a wonderful resource – either online or through their Yellow Book – to garden visitors to the United Kingdom. Before any visit to the U.K. I check the online listings of NGS gardens open in the area we are visiting. These can be extraordinarily interesting gardens and very often gardens which open quite rarely; some only once in the year and so can give one an unexpected treat as part of a gardening holiday.
The National Gardens Scheme raises money for charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, MS Society, MIND and Carers Trust as the garden owners pass all receipts to the NGS. It is a worthwhile cause and an enjoyable way of donating to a charity. It is certainly a feather in the gardener’s cap to have one’s garden listed in The Yellow Book though opening to the public makes demands not only for garden content and maintenance but also the supply of tasty cakes – NGS gardens are renowned for the quality of their Lemon Drizzle Cakes!
A recent visit to Devon had a change to the usual planning approach for, before travelling, Helen Brown, who opens her garden “Little Ash Bungalow” for the NGS, invited us to visit while we were staying so close to her. It was a kind invitation which could not be refused and we arranged an early evening visit to Helen and her husband, Brian.
Little Ash Bungalow is situated between Exeter and Honiton in Devon and, despite my making a mistake in reading the directions we arrived safe and sound though a little damp as we were unfortunate to have an evening of frightfully heavy rain. Fortunately, the rain was light while we were with Helen but it was torrential as we drove back to our hotel and driving was very challenging.
Helen’s garden extends to one and a half acres with well-established and maturing trees and shrubs and a very tasty selection of herbaceous plants which were providing attractive colour, despite the mist, while we were there. There is a sprinkling of interesting sculptures through the garden, several a reuse of old farm artifacts which is appropriate as Brian continues to farm the surrounding land. The lower area of the garden has a small area of woodland with a stream forming the boundary between garden and surrounding farmland. Helen has plans to develop the potential of the stream and it promises to be a beautiful area of an already interesting garden.
Helen is opening the garden for the NGS this Sunday, 18th August, and I wish her every success, assure the visitors of a very pleasant and enjoyable time and thank her for the kindness of her invitation and the generosity of her hospitality.