Gorgeous Kent gardens to visit with the NGS this year

1 Brickwall Cottages

A lovely spring garden, full of geums later in the year, at Brickwall Cottages, Frittenden - Credit: Leigh Clapp

Whether or not we've got green fingers ourselves, who doesn't love a visit to a gorgeous private garden, where someone else has done all the hard work and with inspirational results.

This year, there are over 120 Kent gardens opening their gates to the public, raising money for nursing and health charities as part of the National Garden Scheme, most often with a delicious slice of homemade cake and a cup of tea on offer too.

Jane Streatfeild, NGS Kent County Organiser, says “The gardens open in Kent this year range from plantspeople’s tiny gardens, groups of urban gardens, a trail near Dover, formal topiary gardens, gardens with wildlife accents and wildflower meadows, historic gardens, plant heritage collection holders, community gardens, to gardens with activities for children."

"Some gardens are new, some are returning to open after a Covid break, and seven began their openings in 1927 when the charity first started. Through thick and thin, garden owners have generously shared their gardens through open days, and more recently in videos, and continued raising money for the raft of nursing and caring charities.”

At the time of writing, this is the ideal time to check out snowdrops in the county, but you can start planning your spring and summer garden visits by picking up a free copy of the Kent National Garden Scheme yellow booklet in Kent and Medway libraries, as well as at garden centres, railway stations and tourist centres. You can also pick up your copy from garden owners on open days. Meanwhile, here are just some of the gardens we can explore, with more details to come in further posts! 

1 Brickwall Cottages, Frittenden, Cranbrook: Open by arrangement from April-June for groups of up to 30 
The garden, a secluded oasis in the centre of the village, is filled with a wide range of plants, including trees, shrubs, perennials and over 100 geums which make up the National Collection. In an effort to attract more wildlife some areas of grass have been left unmown, and a new butterfly and moth 'meadow' was created during lockdown to replace the main nursery area.

Balmoral Cottage, Benenden, Cranbrook: 24 April, 15 May, 15 June - Topiary garden

Impressive topiary at Balmoral Cottage, Benenden

Impressive topiary at Balmoral Cottage, Benenden - Credit: Leigh Clapp

An owner-created and maintained garden now 33 yrs mature. Varied, romantic and extensive topiary form the backbone for mixed borders. Vegetable garden, organically managed. Particular attention to the needs of nesting birds and small mammals lend this artistic plantswoman's garden a rare and unusual quality.

Dover Garden Trail, 28 May 
Three very different gardens: an artist’s long, narrow cottage garden,  a terraced garden that includes a planted garage roof, and a large well-established garden in a ⅓-acre plot. All contain water features and use of recycled materials in many varied ways but that's where the similarity ends.

Pheasant Barn, Oare, nr Faversham: several dates in June and July 

Pheasant Barn, Oare

Formal planting is just one of the techniques to appreciate at Pheasant Barn, Oare - Credit: Leigh Clapp

Series of smallish gardens around award-winning converted farm buildings in a beautiful situation overlooking Oare Creek. The main area features nectar-rich planting in a formal design with a contemporary twist inspired by the local landscape. There's also a vegetable garden, dry garden, water features, a wildflower meadow and a labyrinth. 

For more information on any of these gardens,  click on to the NGS  

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