New research recently published by leading garden charity the National Garden Scheme (NGS), confirms the important health benefits that visiting a garden in the darkest days of winter can provide. Almost half the respondents mentioned liking snowdrops, and over a quarter enjoyed the scent of winter flowers like Daphne. ‘Winter gardens can be full of life and interest,’ says the report author, environmental psychologist Dr Emma White. ‘Our survey respondents felt that winter is the perfect time to observe the emergence of new growth and experience the unique joy of spring flowering bulbs. It’s also a great time to appreciate the structure of a well-designed garden, and respondents noticed lots of wildlife and beneficial natural features. So, whatever the season, we should all try to get out into gardens more, observe the plants and nature around us, and feel the benefits.’

Read the report online at

Great British Life: Athelhampton House and Gardens. Athelhampton House and Gardens. (Image:

Athelhampton House Gardens 

The award-winning gardens at Athelhampton, surrounding the magnificent Tudor manor house, date from 1891. This glorious Grade I architectural garden is full of vistas with spectacular planting, ponds with fountains as well as The Great Court with its 12 giant yew topiary pyramids. Coffee, lunches and afternoon tea available daily.

Open for NGS: March 20 (10am-5pm).

Location: DT2 7LG (between Poole & Dorchester just off the A35)

Knitson Old Farmhouse

Mature cottage garden nestled under chalk downland. Herbaceous borders, rockeries, climbers, and shrubs evolved and designed, over six decades by its owner Rachel, for year-round colour. Wildlife friendly, sustainable kitchen garden includes 20+ different fruits. Plants are selected for drought tolerance and hardiness. 100+ shrubs, both new and old. Points of historical interest include an ancient side-handled quern, Roman padstones, and a 15th century farmhouse. Garden is on a slope, main lawn and tea area level. Cream teas available. 

Open: March 30 & 31 (12-5pm)

Location: Corfe Castle BH20 5JB

Manor Farm

Traditional farmhouse garden designed and cared for by three generations of the Trehane family over a century of farming and gardening at Hampreston. Garden is noted for its deep herbaceous borders and rose beds within box and yew hedges. Mature shrubbery, water and bog garden. Hellebores for sale at the opening in March, many of which are the more unusual varieties that you cannot buy elsewhere. Light refreshments and homemade teas.

Open: March 2 (10am-1pm), March 3 (1-4pm)

Location: Hampreston BH21 7LX


Great British Life: Spring bulbs at Frankham Farm. Spring bulbs at Frankham Farm. (Image: NGS)

Frankham Farm 

3½ acre garden near Sherborne, created since 1960 by the late Jo Earle for year-round interest and filled with a wide variety of plants including clematis and other climbers, roses, rare shrubs and trees (labelled). Productive vegetable garden. Lots of colourful spring bulbs. Ramp available for the two steps to the garden. Modern WCs (inc disabled). Light refreshments in newly converted barn.

Open: March 24 (12-5pm)

Location: Ryme Intrinseca DT9 6JT

The Old Vicarage

This wonderful garden near Shaftesbury is stunning in spring with hundreds of varieties of snowdrops, crocus, daffodil, tulips and other spring bulbs as well as winter flowering shrubs. It comprises 1.7 acre and new 1.1-acre wildlife garden with some unusual trees. Stream meanders down to the swimming pond, the first to be built in Dorset. Pond dipping, swing and other children's attractions. Homemade teas.

Open: March 22 & 24 (2-5pm)

Location: East Orchard SP7 0BA

Details about these gardens at


Great British Life: Paul and Helen Stickland of Blackshed Farm Flowers. Paul and Helen Stickland of Blackshed Farm Flowers. (Image: Katharine Davies)

Garden Lecture: Paul Stickland of Blackshed Flower Farm 

This is the first of three evening lectures organised by the NGS at the Museum of East Dorset in Wimborne Minster. Husband and wife, Paul and Helen Stickland set up Blackshed Flower Farm around six years ago. Paul was a children’s author and illustrator before stepping into the world of cut flowers, and Helen worked at Winstons Bookshop. Located by the Toy Barn on the A30 Shaftesbury Road, Blackshed Flowers started as a pick-your-own flowers business. Now they do flowers for events and weddings as well as deliveries. Large grain silos that once belonged to the farm are filled with pots, plants and cut flowers. The business is part of the Flower Farm network of over 250 flower farms in the UK. In Dorset, Abbey Farm Flowers in Abbotsbury, Dorset Dahlias in Bridport and The Dorset Flower Co in Puddletown are all part of this burgeoning business of locally grown cut flowers. Wheelchair access. Lovely walled garden at museum. Light refreshments in tearoom.

When: March 1, doors open 6pm, lecture starts 6.45pm

Where: Museum of East Dorset, 23-29 High Street, Wimborne Minster. Pre-booking essential at

Crocus Week at Forde Abbey

Picking up the baton from the snowdrop displays in February, admire acres of naturalised crocuses (Crocus vernus and tommasinianus) which line pathways and cover the lawns of in these gardens on the Dorset/Somerset border during Crocus Week (March 1 – 10). The earliest record of Crocus vernus here dates back over a hundred years, and since then they have self-sown year after year, and naturalised gloriously across 30 acers of gardens and meadows. Their wide-open chalice shaped blooms provide food for early emerging pollinators which come out to bask in the sunshine. Elsewhere in the garden there are wild daffodils (Narcissus lobularis), clumps of Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus) and splashes of colour from Chionodoxa.