Hampshire has an array of villages that open their gardens through the season. Keep an eye out for signs and adverts around many villages and towns highlighting an ‘Open Gardens‘ event. Once a year keen gardeners in a village will come together and invite the public to see beyond their garden gates to raise money for charity. It may be just a handful of gardens open or a larger group, often running over two days. People like to come to the events for a variety of reasons. You don’t need to know about plants, you could be a beginner or a keen gardener, or simply be after an enjoyable family outing. You normally purchase a ticket and map from a central location, often a hall, pub or gazebo that is well signposted, which covers entry to all the gardens, and then you are free to wander through the variety on offer. You don’t have to go to all of them, take time to sit and soak up the atmosphere. It’s a very relaxed way of enjoying garden visiting.

Whether it’s your local village and you want to discover what grows best in your locality or you’ve come from further afield for inspiration, seeing a group all with different palettes and designs is a privilege to savour. It’s a great opportunity to get advice and ideas for your own plot. There is often a festive atmosphere as people wander the lanes and streets, enjoying the whole experience. Chatting to owners, fellow garden lovers like yourself, for a personal insight into their journey, often being able to buy great value plants, and completing your visits with a warm welcome at the village hall or a garden for delicious teas, make these combined openings a lovely day out. An added bonus is that as you enjoy your exploration you are raising money for good causes for these communities.

Here’s a round-up of some on offer – Some open through the National Garden Scheme others are organised by the local communities.

Be enticed by treasures beyond the gatesBe enticed by treasures beyond the gates (Image: Leigh Clapp)

Stockbridge Gardens

Set in the heart of the picturesque Test Valley, around 10 gardens will be opening this year, situated in the eastern half of the village. Along with old favourites there will be several new ones for visitors to discover. Included in the list are the village allotments, which are always a great source of practical knowledge for those wanting to grow produce. Proceeds go to St Peter’s Church, half way along the high street, and that is where you will buy your ticket from, or the parking area. Relax too on the church lawn with a cup of tea and a slice of cake as you listen to the band playing.

Pay a visit

Stockbridge Gardens, SO20 6EU

June 29 and 30, 1.30-5.30pm

Admission £10, children free


Chilbolton Open Gardens

Another gem in the Test Valley, with a wide variety of gardens open. You’ll enjoy informal cottage gardens with a tapestry of mingling blooms, deep herbaceous borders, shrubberies, a wild garden, productive plots, ponds, specimen trees, woodland and a wildflower meadow. It’s well worth booking lunch at The Abbots Mitre pub, which has a reputation for delicious food and sit outside to enjoy the atmosphere. Teas and homemade cakes will also be available in one of the gardens. All proceeds go to Hampshire Air Ambulance and Chilbolton Parish Community Fund.

Pay a visit

Chilbolton Open Gardens, SO20 6BE

June 30, 2-5pm

Admission £6

Crawley Gardens

This exceptionally pretty village opens a small group of gardens through the National Garden Scheme on set days in spring and summer. Many have charming country views with gardens that suit the characterful homes. In summer enjoy billowing borders, scrambling roses, contemporary plantings of perennials and grasses, a Mediterranean garden, a wonderful kitchen garden, and expanses of meadows. Plants from the garden are for sale at Tanglefoot.

Pay a visit

Crawley Gardens

July 4 and 7, 2-5.30pm

Admission £4, children free


Swanmore Open Gardens

Another delightful village to explore. This time set on the edge of the beautiful Meon Valley. Both small, intimate gardens and large country house landscapes will give you lots of ideas to try out at home. Some gardens are new, others are old favourites which change from year to year. There will be plants for sale and a plant crèche to avoid carrying plants around – just give them to the minibus driver and collect them at The Paterson Centre, where teas, coffee and homemade cakes will be available. Many of the lanes are narrow so parking at the Centre and using the free shuttle bus is advised.

Pay a visit

Swanmore Open Gardens, SO32 2PA

July 6 and 7, 1-6pm

Admission £6