Spring gardens to visit in Dorset - March 2015

Massed daffodils under stately trees and white-barked birches - Old Vicarage

Massed daffodils under stately trees and white-barked birches - Old Vicarage - Credit: Archant

From carpets of anemones and nodding daffodils to early clematis and scented viburnum, there are some superb spring gardens to explore in Dorset this March

Langebride House, Long Bredy

On the lane towards St Peter’s Church in Long Bredy, there’s a massive wisteria trailing along a high stone wall. In May and early-June, it’s covered with glorious purple-white flowers, heady with perfume. This wall is the boundary of the extensive grounds of Langebride House, the original rectory which was built in the 1760s. Following on from January and February’s snowdrops and hellebores, there is a magnificent display of blue and white anemones apennina around the old copper beech on the front lawn. You will also find early white and purple crocus tommasinianus naturalised around magnolia trees and in the shady woodland area, followed by slightly later by the deeper purple crocus vernus. There is a fine mahonia japonica with its highly-perfumed lemon yellow flowers and, near the edge of the gravel drive, the startlingly blue star-shaped heads of a Siberian bugloss brunnera macrophylla.

In March you’ll find a huge variety of early daffodils in this garden, and magnolias, including pale lilac-pink magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ and white flowered magnolia stellata, start bursting forth.

• Address: Long Bredy near Dorchester DT2 9HU

• Opening times: Individuals and groups by appointment (Feb–July). Contact the garden’s owner Mrs Greener on 01308 482257


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The Old Vicarage, East Orchard

Lecturer in Electronics at University of Westminster, Tina Wright opens her award-winning ‘Wildlife Friendly’ garden for the NGS twice a year and its well worth touring the back lanes of East Orchard to find it. Surrounded by fine views into the Blackmore Vale this 1.7 acre garden has a platform in an old oak tree, reached by proper stairs and banisters, which looks over Duncliffe Hill and King Alfred’s tower on a clear day. The sloping lawns are liberally punctuated by flower beds variously planted with mixed hellebores, tiny pink and white ‘Glory of the Snow’ chionodoxa forbesii, pale yellow wild daffodils narcissus romeieuxii, deep blue scillas, pale violet and white anemone blanda, deep blue periwinkle vinca major, several pulmonarias and hyacinths.

The wild meadow area is where daffodils rub shoulders with fritillaries and cowslips under stately trees and white-barked birches. A long pergola is resplendent with an early clematis montana rubens in full bloom and a there’s a beautiful camellia stellata covered with star-shaped bright white flowers. Tina says she’s dug no end of trenches to lay water pipes and electric cables all over the garden to supply the water pumps for the ponds and the stream. By the summer house is the fledgling Japanese garden, and the ‘ruin’ with its moss and fern-edged spring.

A wildlife pond, with decking and a carved bench, is half-covered with unusual water hyacinths eichhornia which flower practically all year round.

Tina’s family all help out on Open Days, making delicious homemade cakes and serving tea which you can enjoy in this wildlife friendly garden.

• Open: 29 March 2pm to 4.30pm (also 24 May & 4 October). Individuals and groups welcome by appointment call Tina on 01747 811744

• Address: East Orchard, Shaftesbury, SP7 0BA


Herons Mead, East Burton

This once neglected plot is now a glorious garden with a year-round display of colour. Rich in sand and low on nutrients, the 100ft long garden demands loads of compost. It also suffers from salt carried on the wind from Lulworth, so the owners planted a small wood of native and eucalyptus trees at the south west end. Ron Millington is a retired nuclear physicist and his wife Angela is an animal artist who designed the mosaic dragonflies set into the patio and the driftwood heron guarding the pond.

This is very much a plantsman’s garden with greenhouse, large cold frames, three compost heaps and gravel areas for hardening-off plants in pots. An exuberant purple clematis alpino ‘Constance’ is blooming outside the conservatory and, following the meandering stone path through the garden, you’ll find masses of hellebores (200 apparently), blue and pink pulmonaria, several species of euphorbia, tiny pink and white chionodoxa forbesii, swathes of tiny deep blue scillas and blue and white anenome blanda under the trees.

Dominating the garden is a huge cherry tree which will soon be bursting into bloom. Angela says: “The cherry is a treasure store for the blackbirds as its too high for us to harvest - and the fruit is hard and bitter.”

A rose arch leads to the formal pool with margin plants including early primula denticulata ‘Ruby’ and golden yellow king cups. Beyond the pool and tea room, a weeping silver pear stands at the centre of a hexagonal feature with intermittent pebble beds and planted sections. Vegetable beds lead on to the wild wood with hardy crane’s bill geraniums, bright-stemmed dogwoods cornus and a deliciously scented viburnum birkwoodii. There’s a plethora of seating areas, in sun or shade, so plenty of places to stop and admire this gorgeous garden.

• Open: 22 March, 5 April, 3 May, 20 September 2pm to 5pm. Also open on the evening of Friday 19 June with choir singing. Groups of 10 are welcome by appointment

• Address: East Burton Road, East Burton, Wool BH20 6HF 01929 463872



Manor Farm, Hampreston

This traditional farmhouse garden throws open its gates so you can view its wonderful collection of hellebores.

• Open: 28 February & 1 March (Midday - 3pm)

• Where: Manor Farm, Hampreston, Wimborne, BH21 7LX


Kitemoor Cottage, Wimborne

1/2 acre garden full of treasures including large collection of hellebores also pond, mini meadow, naturalistic planting and cottage garden borders to explore. Exquisite hellebores for sale.

• Open: 7 & 8 March (11am – 4pm). March - June by arrangement.

• Where: Kitemoor Cottage, Manswood, Wimborne, BH21 5BQ


Q, Dorchester

This modern cottage town garden includes over 100 clematis and over 1000+ spring bulbs.

• Open: 15 & 29 March (2-4.30pm)

• Where: Q, 113 Bridport Road, Dorchester DT1 2NH


Chiffchaffs, Bourton

Mature garden for all seasons planted round stone cottage with many interesting plants, bulbs, shrubs, herbaceous border and shrub roses. Attractive walk to woodland garden with views across Blackmore Vale.

• Open: 22 March (2-5pm)

• Where: Chiffchaffs, Chaffeymoor, Bourton, Gillingham SP8 5BY


Ivy House Garden, Piddletrenthide

Unusual 1/2 acre garden set on a hillside with fine views. Large numbers of daffodils, tulips and hellebores in spring. Be prepared for steep terrain.

• Open: 28 & 29 March, 2-5pm

• Where: Ivy House Garden, Piddletrenthide, DT2 7QF


Snape Cottage, Bourton

An exceptional collection of hardy plants and bulbs arranged in an informal cottage garden style. Specialities include snowdrops, hellebores, ‘old’ varieties of daffodils and pulmonarias.

• Open: 28 March (2pm-5pm)

• Where: Snape Cottage Plantsman’s Garden, Chaffeymoor, Bourton, Gillingham, SP8 5BZ



• 21-22 March: Spring Bulbs and Daffodils Weekend at Sherborne Castle

• Mid Feb – end of April: Camellias, Magnolias and Spring Colour at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

• Throughout March: Magnolias, Camellias and Rhododendrons at Minterne House

• March – May: Spring Flowers at Kingston Lacy. Their famous drifts of snowdrops gradually give way to daffodils and tulips, you can also enjoy azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons and their National Collection of Anemone nemorosa.



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