For many keen gardeners May offers a highlight in the horticultural year as it’s the month of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

This year, and for only the second time in its 97-year history, the National Garden Scheme (NGS) will have a show garden at Chelsea, sponsored by Project Giving Back and designed by the renowned landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith.

Tom is an eight times RHS gold medal winner and has opened his own garden in Hertfordshire for the National Garden Scheme for the past 30 years. His design for the Chelsea garden will exemplify the generosity that is woven through the relationship the NGS has with its supporters which saw the charity donate a record-breaking £3.4 million to nursing and health charities last year.

Great British Life: Five gardens will be open as part of the Rosebarn Gardens collection in Exeter. Five gardens will be open as part of the Rosebarn Gardens collection in Exeter. (Image: NGS)

However, if a trip to London in late May is simply too far to travel, there is an array of beautiful spring gardens to visit right here on our doorstep during Chelsea week.

On the first day Chelsea opens on Tuesday, May 21, there is a one-off opening for the NGS at Hotel Endsleigh at Milton Abbot, near Tavistock.

Endsleigh was commissioned by the beautiful and scandalous Georgina, Duchess of Bedford and became known as 'The Garden Paradise of the West'. With more than 100 acres of fairytale gardens and with woodlands, follies and grottos aplenty, the grounds were the last to be created by the landscape designer Humphry Repton in 1814.

The gardens will be open for NGS visitors between 11am and 4pm. Light refreshments will be available in the hotel, but visitors are advised to pre-book beforehand due to limited space.

Two other gardens much-loved by Devon garden visitors are open throughout Chelsea week.

Heathercombe at Manaton, near Bovey Tracey has openings across spring and early summer. The tranquility of its natural setting can be enjoyed on various days from May 5 until late June.

Goren Farm at Stockland, near Honiton offers garden visitors access to 50 acres of natural and species-rich wildflower meadows and will be open for evening visits from May 18 to June 7.

Great British Life: Nine gardens are open in Abbotskerswell. Nine gardens are open in Abbotskerswell. (Image: NGS)

The last day of Chelsea is Saturday, May 25 and there are still a host of beautiful garden visits available across Devon. Amongst these are some exciting new gardens opening for the NGS for the first time in 2024. They include Old Glebe near Chulmleigh, a group opening of five gardens at Rosebarn Gardens in Exeter and the beautiful wildlife gardens at Little Dinworthy near Holsworthy.

Group garden openings are always very popular and Abbotskerswell Gardens near Newton Abbot will also open that weekend with nine beautiful gardens, plus the village allotments for visitors to explore on both the Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Further details on all these gardens and more NGS openings are available online or in the NGS Devon yellow booklet.