Over 100 Dorset gardens open for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) each year helping us to raise vital funds for the nursing and healthcare related charities that it supports. These include large traditional country gardens, important historic gardens, tropical coastal gardens, cottage gardens, unusual urban gardens as well as rewilding projects and wildflower meadows. Here are some highlights from the 2024 line-up, as well as some very special summer events.

Greenhouse at Slape Manor. (Image: Supplied by ngs.org.uk)

Semley Grange 

A large garden with deep herbaceous borders, a riot of floral colour in June, surround a large lawn; there’s a wildflower meadow in front of the house. Admire roses of all kinds, shrub, climbing and standard weeping interspersed with alliums, lilies, dahlias, garden sculptures and archways. The overall feel is of a traditional English garden meeting something almost Oriental or Mediterranean.

Open: June 23 (12-5pm)

Where: Shaftesbury SP7 9AP

Slape Manor

To sit on the terrace with a homemade tea soaking up the view here is an absolute joy. The well-established gardens, sheltered by the valley’s contours, has a newly planted woodland garden and kitchen garden. The River Brit runs through the grounds which also has a large lake. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's television series River Cottage was filmed here (1999 –2002) named after the property which inspired many to embrace countryside living.

Open: June 30 (1-5pm)

Where: Netherbury DT6 5LH

Langebride House & Corner Cottage

As you drive into Long Bredy, Corner Cottage is on the bend, opposite is Langebride House. Corner Cottage’s deep borders are filled with roses, perennials, clematis and interspersed with clipped box balls for structure. Working kitchen garden with raised beds. Langebride House is a large Georgian property surrounded by an elegant garden with well-filled borders surrounding the lawns. Pretty walled kitchen garden and cut flower garden. Homemade teas.

Opening: June 30 (2-5pm)

Where: Long Bredy DT2 9HU

Bembury Farm

The gorgeous herbaceous borders of this traditional farmhouse garden are filled with shrub roses, clematis and interesting perennials. There are also quirky elements such as yew hedging clipped into the shape of a peacock and a fox! Beyond is a large woodland area and, in the meadow, an oak circle with seating; looking up from here you’re almost overwhelmed by this elegant and majestic garden. Homemade teas.

Open: June 30 & July 3 (2-6pm)

Where: Thornford DT9 6QF

Horn Park

This large, elegant garden, surrounding a Neo-Georgian house of significant proportions, offers the most magnificent views across the valley. It is a real plantsman's garden, with many rare and mature plants and shrubs, divided by large herbaceous borders. Clipped box balls and yew tree pinnacles are interspersed with statues, water fountains and large urns. In July the roses are in bloom and the wildflower meadow littered with wild orchids. Homemade teas.

Open: July 3 (2.30-4.30pm)

Where: Beaminster DT8 3HB

Wilder Gardens

Wildflower meadows with coastal views at Hogchester Farm.   (Image: Supplied by ngs.org.uk)

Over the years our NGS portfolio has expanded to include all types of venue, from historic estate and rectory gardens to country cottage and suburban plots. We’re always keen to represent the gardening community and embrace the new so we now include flower farms, kitchen gardens and rewilding projects within our scheme. Since lockdown many gardens have added a wildflower meadow or woodland walkway to give visitors a wilder viewpoint.

Wyke Farm

Rob and Alex Appleby are passionate about rewilding, environmental conservation and preservation of the natural habitat. Over two decades they have empathically restored the land at Wyke Farm to include a substantial wildflower meadow with many orchids. There are a limited number of tickets for this special one-day rewilding event lead by ecologist, Professor Tom Brereton, who has supported the couple with their restoration project at Wyke Farm. Pre-booking essential.

Open: 23 June (1-5pm)

Where: Beaminster DT8 3HX

Wytherston Farm [IMAGE}

Johnnie and Sophie Boden host this special event at Wytherston Farm where they have lived since 2005. Johnnie is fanatical about rewilding and the work he’s done here has been much talked about; he’ll be leading this exclusive tour. The Bodens have worked with their fantastic gardening team to encourage wildflowers in both their garden and meadows which makes for a breathtaking display in June. Limited tickets, pre-booking essential at ngs.org.uk.

Open: June 27 (2.30pm-5pm)

Where: Powerstock DT6 3TQ

Hogchester Farm [IMAGE}

This was the first rewilding project on our NGS rota. Owner Rob Powell worked closely with Dorset Wildlife Trust to ensure that he not only returned this former dairy farm to nature, but also filled it with the most spectacular array of local flora and fauna. The wildflower meadows here are quite something, and the coffee shack on the brow of the hill offers panoramic views over the Jurassic Coast.

Open: July 14 (9am-6pm)

Where: Charmouth DT6 6BY