Large NGS gardens open in Essex this summer

Some of my favourites…

There’s always something to see here, but April is an especially lovely time to visit Barnards Farm, when the gardens are full of spring bulbs and apple blossom. Garden interest builds over the summer, as the borders come to life and the Japanese garden offers shelter from the sun. A significant sculpture collection is housed around the 22 hectares of gardens and woodland. Lakes and streams create exciting routes to follow and explore. Family Days include access to the car collection, a 1920s cycle shop, archery and Model T Ford rides.
Barnards Farm, Brentwood Road, West Horndon, CM13 3FY
Every Thurs April 4 to Sept 12 (11- 4.30)
Adm £10, chd free, pre-booking essential
Also family Days Sun June 30 and Sun (1 – 5.30)
Adm £14, chd free, pre-booking essential

In April the lawn here is bejewelled with naturalised bulbs while spectacular tulips and spring blossom can be found in more formal areas. A delightful stream runs through the 10-acre garden bordered by the Blackwater river, so find a tranquil spot and enjoy a picnic while taking in the views.
Feeringbury Manor, Feering, CO5 9RB
Thurs & Fris April 4 -July 26, Thurs & Fri Sept 5 - Oct 11
10am – 4pm, admission £6, children free

If you’d like to visit as a group, this restored three-acre Victorian garden is well worth a visit. A courtyard garden and terrace lead down to lawns with a re-instated parterre surrounded by herbaceous borders. You’ll also find an orchard with old and new fruit trees and vegetable plot, plus there’s a woodland walk around to be enjoyed around a spring-fed pond.
Blunts Hall, Witham, CM8 1LX
Visits by arrangement to 23 Aug for groups of 10 to
30 people, weekdays only
Adm £10, chd free, discuss refreshments when booking

This prestigious events venue welcomes gardeners to enjoy its tranquil surroundings. Extensive borders of perennials, shrubs and roses abound. The walled Garden features themed areas radiating from the central fountain and parasol mulberry trees – spot the Black and White Garden, Italian Garden and English Garden, each containing a wealth of planting inspiration. As a bonus, Head Gardener, Andrea Cooper, will be on hand to answer questions and guided tours for a further donation of £5pp payable on the day.
Braxted Park Estate, Great Braxted, CM8 3EN
June 4 (10-3.30)
Adm £7.50, chd £5
Light lunches and afternoon tea available

You’ll find a cottage style garden at this blue-painted, wisteria-clad 1930’s home. Delights in the rear garden include perennial borders, with a viburnum arch leading to an attractive pond with Monet-style bridge, pebbled beach area and a mature Indian Bean tree. A new wildlife pond and bog garden has been created in 2022 in the woodland area. After recently discovering some old steps leading down to the diverted River Roach, a woodland area means something new to discover in 2024.
Allways, 14 Rochford, SS4 1NP
Jun 8 (11-4)
Adm £5, chd free, light refreshments

Great British Life: Highlights at Saling Hall include an ornamental walled garden full of roses in summer. Highlights at Saling Hall include an ornamental walled garden full of roses in summer. (Image: Lisa Scott)
Now undergoing an ambitious programme of works by new owners, this special 12-acre Grade II-listed garden combines an historic ornamental walled garden with a large surrounding park, predominantly an arboretum full of rare trees, with orchard, wildflower meadow and water garden. June sees the final flushes of spring on the trees and the abundant roses in the gardens at their peak – just imagine the scent!
Saling Hall, Great Saling CM7 5DT
Sun June 9 (10-5)
Adm £8, chd free, tea & cake

A hugely varied 10-acre garden, which includes specimen trees, restored horticultural buildings, a walled garden, a parterre, long herbaceous borders, a sunken dell with waterfall and a temple on the banks of a lily lake. Large woodland areas, a nuttery and an orchard make this a haven for wildlife. You’re encouraged to bring your own picnic hampers and make the most of the many perfect spots to sit and enjoy the views.
Peackocks, Margaretting, CM4 9HY
Sun 23 June 23, (11- 4), private visits 24 April 24 to July 3 for groups of 15 to 60
Adm £5, chd free