Some of the secret gardens to visit in Dorset this June

Butts Cottage

Butts Cottage - Credit: Archant

Many Dorset villages are opening their garden gates to visitors this month Helen Stiles gives you a sneak preview of some of the glorious gardens you can explore

One of the beaitful gardens open in Sturminster Marshall

One of the beaitful gardens open in Sturminster Marshall - Credit: Archant

Netherbury Gardens - open Weekend: 7-8 June

Gardens large and small feature in this beautiful west Dorset village including walled, courtyard and NGS gardens. Here are just a few of them to give you a taste.

Mill House: 6 acres including formal flower and shrub borders, walled garden, mill pond, meadows, bog garden and “wild” garden. Village plant stall.

Chantry Walled Garden: Adjoining an orchard of mixed fruit trees, this wisteria-clad walled garden contains well over 50 varieties of roses along with several clematis.

Hatchlands: Hillside garden featuring yew and box hedges, rose gardens, herbaceous and fuchsia beds and hardy geraniums beneath a long Georgian brick wall.

Brimble Cottage: Garden featuring three ‘rooms’ including courtyard with plum tree, lawn with flower border and Judas tree, and patio with shrub border and lantern tree.

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Stonehouse: Situated next to the Village Hall, this garden is on different levels and features a mixture of traditional borders, ‘rooms’ and roses.

2 Pye’s Plot: Front and back courtyard garden which use every inch creatively. Climbing plants, pretty foliage and a lovely running water feature.

Hingsdon: Hilltop garden of about an acre with wonderful iris beds, mixed border, kitchen garden and spectacular views.

Slape Manor: River valley garden with streams down to a lake. Magnificent hostas and gunneras, ancient wisterias, azaleas and rhododendrons. Breathtaking!


When: 7 – 8 June (1pm-5pm)

Tickets: £6.50 (valid for both days. Children under 13 free.

Refreshments: Homemade lunches 12.30pm until 2pm each day. Also plant stalls

More information: Visit website or call Anne Peck on 01308 488648


National Gardens Scheme Festival Weekend: 7-8 June

This annual event is the country’s biggest celebration of gardens and raises funds for nursing and caring charities across the UK including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Parkinson’s UK. There are 300 openings across the UK during the two days. NGS venues open in Dorset over this weekend include:

Butts Cottage, Plush, DT2 7RJ

Tranquil village garden of 3/4 acre around an 18th century cottage in a fold of the North Dorset downs. Stream, pond, wild flowers and marsh orchids.

Open: 7 - 8 June, 2pm- 5pm


Cottage Row, School Lane, Tarrant Gunville, DT11 8JJ

Partly walled cottage garden withformal and informal areas which reflects the owner’s love or unusual plants and an artist’s eye for colour. Pergola, arbours, tree house, kitchen garden, and water feature.

Open: 7 June, 5pm-8pm (with wine) 8 June, 2pm-5.30pm (with cream teas)


Frith House, Stalbridge, DT10 2SD

Four acres of garden around an Edwardian house and self-contained hamlet. Lakes, flower and rose borders plus a well stocked kitchen garden.

Open: 8 June, 2pm-5pm


Old Down House, Horton, Wimborne, BH21 7HL

Nestled down a farm track, this 3/4 acre garden on chalk surrounds an 18th century farmhouse. Cottage garden planting with climbing roses on pergola and house walls and a magnificent wisteria sinensis. Part-walled potager.

Open: 4 & 8 June, 2pm-5pm


Other gardens open during the NGS Garden Festival Weekend include:

Edwardstowe, 50-52 Bimport, Shaftesbury, SP7 8BA

Harcombe House, Pitmans Lane, Morcombelake, DT6 6EB

Mews Cottage, 34 Easton Street, Portland, DT5 1BT

Frankham Farm, Ryme Intrinseca, DT9 6JT

Manor Farm, Hampreston BH21 7LX


Last chance to see...

‘OLA’, 47 Old Castle Road, Rodwell, Weymouth, DT4 8QE

Last opening of this much admired 1930’s designed seaside garden overlooking Portland Harbour. Mixed herbaceous borders, shrubs and roses, rockeries, fish pond, vegetables and orchard

Open: 9 June, 2pm -5pm


For a full list of NGS venues open in June please visit or look in their Yellow Book.


Sturminster Marshall Open Gardens Day: 8 June

To mark the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the village’s twinning with Sainte-Mère-Église, the first village in Normandy liberated by the Americans on D-Day, 6th June 1944, Sturminster Marshall are hosting an Open Gardens Day featuring 16 inspiring private gardens.

The village, which is located at the confluence of the rivers Stour and Winterborne, has a huge variety of gardens, large and small, some established and others newly developed. There will be a Mini Beasts Treasure Hunt for younger visitors, traditional garden games, plant stalls, music and refreshments. To celebrate their link with Sainte-Mère-Église (the village features in the film, The Longest Day, when American paratrooper Private John M Steele’s parachute catches on the church tower) there’s a Teddy Bear Drop from St Mary’s Church at 4pm (bring own teddy and parachute). refreshments.

When: 8 June

Where: Sturminster Marshall (BH21 4BQ) is just off the A350 Poole to Blandford Road, signed ‘Village Centre.’ Sturminster Marshall can also be accessed from the B3082 Blandford to Wimborne Road (2 miles west of Kingston Lacy).

Cost: £5 per person (under 12s free) including garden trail map from Memorial Hall. Money raised goes to St Mary’s Church and the Memorial Hall. No dogs allowed in gardens

Parking: Free in village

Refreshments: Homemade lunches in Sturminster Memorial Hall from midday, cream teas and cakes in Old School Hall from 2.30pm onwards.

More details:

Iwerne Minster’s Secret Gardens’ Festival: 21-22 June

Set off the A350, midway between Shaftesbury and Blandford Forum, this village has more than 60 Listed buildings and monuments including a beautiful 12th century church. There are 20 beautiful gardens for you to peruse during this Festival to raise funds for repairs on the Abingdon Memorial Parish Hall. Many owners will be on hand to tell you about their garden designs, plants and even bee keeping. Here’s a taste of what is on offer:

The Hollow: Hill-side cottage garden with kitchen garden formed from a converted paddock. Wildlife ponds, hidden fernery and dry stone walls which create different levels of planting.

Jayne: A productive garden which produces high quality fruit and vegetables for the kitchen and show bench. The greenhouses and polytunnel are used to propagate young plants, grow tomatoes and nurture award-winning chrysanthemums.

Brookmans Farm Bungalow: This bee-friendly garden features separate areas, each with its own character, these include a sunken ‘Mediterranean’ garden, herb garden, a large fruit and vegetable cage and a wildlife pond.

Patch Cottage: Award-winning wildlife friendly garden set on three levels, with terraced areas and borders and kitchen garden with wild area and pond.

Bowhay: A Georgian house with a large south facing garden to the rear and established shrubs and fruit trees surrounding the perimetre. Extended patio and vegetable areas, herbaceous border, large rockery, lavender walk, summer house and large Purbeck stone fountain carved by award-winning local sculptor Jonathan Sells.


When: 21-22 June (11am-5pm)

Tickets: £5 each (valid both days) available from Village Clubhouse and gardens

Under 14s go free.

Parking: On the Parish Field next to Village Clubhouse

Refreshments: Tea and coffee at Village Clubhouse. Light lunches and cream teas at Abingdon Hall and Oyles Mill

More information: Call Dianne Benfield on 01747 811507


The Secret Gardens of Stourpaine 21 -22 June

Around 25 beautiful gardens will open at this pretty village in the heart of the Blackmore Vale during this event which is supported by the Stourpaine Gardening Club. Its aim is to raise money for charitable causes such as the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance service. Plants grown by a number of the garden exhibitors will also be on sale. Here’s a taste of some of the wonderful gardens you can visit:

Kaye’s Garden: This topiary garden, including a ‘dinosaur’ hedge, opens into a wildlife meadow with stream, at the base of Hod Hill. There is a silver/white underlying theme throughout counterpointed with purples and sharp blues. Airy planting links the formal garden to the meadow, with cow parsley and Crambe leading the eye towards a silver copse underplanted with foxgloves, Sibirica iris and white willow herb. The white comfrey, growing on the curved bank that divides the meadow, supports a huge population of scarlet tiger moths and the tall silver mint is also very insect friendly. On the north bank by the waterfall, giant yellow scabious are succeeded by shoulder high devil’s bit scabious, all abuzz with insects.

Peter’s Garden: A Victorian walled garden with magnificent views of Hod Hill and the Stour valley. Set in a third of an acre with an additional third for vegetables and fruit, chickens and pigs, the large sloping lawn is bordered by mixed cottage garden plants, shrubs and trees.

Pete’s Garden: This 1¼ acre garden features perennial beds, a shrubbery, rose beds, vegetable garden and a wild meadow in a woodland area. It also has hot beds filled with exotic plants which thrive in hot sunny positions, and on the south side of the house, there is a courtyard garden with water feature and potted plants. A large wisteria covers the south wall and beautiful views of the Stour valley can be had from the many different levels of this wonderful Stourpaine garden.

When: 21-22 June (11am to 5pm)

Tickets: £5 per day, children enter free of charge

Refreshments: Teas available, picnic area available in village

More information:

Dorset Garden Trust Day: 29 June

Herringston House near Dorchester hosts the 25th anniversary celebration of the Dorset Garden Trust (DGT) - a conservation charity working to protect the county’s many historic parks and gardens for future generations. Some specialist nurseries will be at the event including Neil Lucas of Knoll Gardens who will be giving a talk on his famous grasses. You will also be able to explore the gardens of Herringston House which has been in the Williams’ family for over 500 years and is currently being researched by DGT.