Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

Solar Wax Extractor

by Diane - November 19th, 2019

I’ve not used a solar wax extractor but we have one built ready, but we need replacement glass for the top as this got broken.

I’ve just watched this excellent video that offers some great hints on how to maximise the wax you get out of brood frames.
It’s often said you don’t get much wax from brood combs, but this video explains how you might ensure you get more.

Quite a short video but well worth while watching.

The Nation’s Favourite Gardens

by Diane - November 6th, 2019

The Nation’s Favourite Gardens – winners announced

Coton Manor Garden in Northamptonshire has been named the Nation’s Favourite Garden to visit. Coton’s owners, Ian and Susie Pasley-Tyler, were given their award at a presentation held by The English Garden at London’s Garden Museum on Monday night.

The English Garden joined forces with the National Garden Scheme and Viking Cruises earlier this year to find the Nation’s Favourite Gardens. Throughout spring and early summer nominations poured in for favourite gardens from among the 3,500 that open their gates to the public through the National Garden Scheme.

Those nominations were narrowed down to a shortlist of 30 gardens by a panel of judges: National Garden Scheme chief executive George Plumptre, garden designer Paul Hervey-Brooks, garden photographer Clive Nichols and The English Garden’s editor Clare Foggett. During late summer and autumn the public voted for their favourite shortlisted gardens to produce the winners: one for each of the Scheme’s six regions and one champion of champion with the most votes overall.

The regional winners are: Kew Green Gardens, London, in the South East; Horatio’s Garden in Salisbury for the South West; The Manor House, Stevington for the East; Wollerton Old Hall in Shropshire for Wales & The Marches; Larch Cottage Nurseries in Melkinthorpe, Cumbria for the North; and Coton Manor Garden for the Midlands and overall.

Clare Foggett, editor of The English Garden said: “Any of the gardens on the 30-strong shortlist would have made very worthy winners, but we’re delighted that these six gardens have been voted the winners in their respective regions. They obviously all strike a chord with their visitors and have become much-loved places to visit.”

George Plumptre, CEO of the National Garden Scheme said: “We were quite bowled over by the quantity and range of nominations which illustrated very powerfully the huge diversity of our gardens. English Garden readers voted in huge numbers and so it was a great achievement for the six gardens that were our regional winners and in particular for Coton Manor, the well-deserved overall winner. Having opened for 50 years in aid of the National Garden Scheme, 30 of them under the loving care of the present owners, Coton Manor typifies the loyal support which we are so lucky to have from so many garden owners and visitors.”

Wendy Atkin-Smith, Managing Director of Viking UK, said: “We were pleased to support the search for the nation’s favourite garden, especially given that the nominees were chosen by the public and encompassed a diverse range of gardens across England and Wales.  Gardening is very close to the heart of Viking guests and in a recent survey two thirds said that being outdoors is the key to wellbeing.  At Viking we share our guests’ passion for nature and horticulture and we are involved in many garden-related events.  We look forward to welcoming visitors to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival presented by Viking in July next year.”

Garden Images

Please use photographers credit where given

A link to images from these gardens can be found at:

The Winners


Kew Green Gardens

Kew Green Gardens in London is actually five discrete but adjoining gardens that combine to form one large and unique space extending over one-and-a-half acres. Borders are low and contribute to viewing, while clematis and roses climb between gardens to unite the whole.


Coton Manor

Old yew and holly hedges bring structure to the 10-acre grounds at Coton Manor in Northamptonshire. Herbaceous borders are a speciality and are especially eye-catching in late summer. An adjacent nursery is stocked with plants propagated from the garden.


Larch Cottage Nurseries

Larch Cottage in Penrith, Cumbria, is well-known for its nursery but the surrounding gardens are important in their own right. Find a Japanese dry garden, flowing perennial borders, a small lake and even an Italianate columned garden specifically for shade plants.


Horatio’s Garden

Designed by Cleve West, Horatio’s Garden at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire, features low, sinuous limestone walls and densely planted beds that double as seating. The garden opened in 2012 and is maintained by a head gardener and volunteers for the benefit of long-stay patients.


The Manor House, Stevington

Kathy Brown’s garden at The Manor House in Stevington, Bedfordshire beautifully combines garden rooms and views. In late spring, cherries, lilacs and orchard trees blossom above meadows of camassias, while wisteria flowers above swathes of alliums.


Wollerton Old Hall

Wollerton Old Hall, near Market Drayton in Shropshire is well-known to many and loved for its picture-perfect borders with towering delphiniums, timbered 16th century house bedecked with climbing roses and immaculate mirror-like water feature.


Funding awaits student horticulturists

by Diane - November 1st, 2019

1 November 2019

Funding awaits student horticulturists

If you’re a student, who’s passionate about horticulture, send us a scholarship application form.
The David Colegrave Foundation scholarship season is open.

Nursery work placements. Production and marketing experience. Access to plant research and sustainable horticulture. These career driven opportunities are all within reach to horticulture students.

If that’s not enough, how about money for college tuition and accommodation fees, books and equipment, or for extra training courses.

Funding is available to help turn keen students into breeders, nursery managers, horticulture lecturers, head gardeners, plant health inspectors, or whatever it is that fulfils their desire for gardening.

Last season’s student winners have worked wonders since receiving their scholarships. Here’s what they have to say…

“If anyone is considering applying for a scholarship, I highly recommend they do as this has been an absolute fantastic opportunity for me.”

“This scholarship has been an incredible support and opened up so many new options and possible career paths.”

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow as an aspiring horticulturist. The money has helped me gain valuable hands on experience and will also help me in the future to achieve my goals.”

“Winning a scholarship gave me the financial freedom to pursue a number of horticultural interests.”

“Thank you for the incredible opportunity, helping me to further my knowledge and to gain experience that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.”

At a thousand pounds or more, a DCF scholarship can really boost learning potential. This year there are 7 scholarships to apply for:

Ball Colegrave Sponsored Travel Scholarship
Up to £1,500 to fund travel to Europe in order to develop knowledge and experience in bedding plant production and marketing. An employee in the early stages of their career at a commercial bedding plant nursery, or a student studying horticulture with an interest in commercial bedding plants should apply.

British Protected Ornamentals Association – Peter Seabrook Bursary
£1,000 to support one or more students studying commercial horticulture. The scholarship is also available to schools and horticultural colleges to finance trips for students over 16 years of age to leading commercial horticultural establishments.

Horticultural Research Scholarship
£2,500 to support applied research within the horticulture industry. Students who are keen to pursue a research career in the horticultural industry should apply. This includes undergraduates, postgraduates and those studying for doctoral degrees.

John Gibson Environmental Scholarship
£1,500 to support a student with a keen interest in environmental solutions and sustainable applications as applied to commercial horticulture.

Majestic Trees Sponsored Travel Scholarship
Up to £3,000 to fund a placement abroad at a tree nursery for a student who is passionate about tree production. This also includes the opportunity for a work placement at Majestic Trees, which could become a permanent position.

Markham – Colegrave International Scholarship
$4,500 USD for the opportunity to organise a work placement in a horticultural business in the US/Canada. The Scholarship is presented as a joint award from DCF and the American Floral Endowment (AFE), US.

Student Scholarship
£1,000 to each of up to 5 students to support their studies in horticulture. Preference is given to candidates who have an interest in ornamental commercial horticulture, especially with an emphasis on the bedding, container, pot plant and cut flower sectors.

The David Colegrave Foundation Scholarship Season is open now until 31 January 2020.

Applications are already coming in from the likes of The University of the Highlands and Islands – Argyll College UHI, The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise – Greenmount campus, Harper Adams University, Walworth School of Horticulture, Eden Project Learning, Nottingham Trent University, Myerscough College, Pershore college and Broomfield Derby college.

More colleges are encouraged to get on board and get their horticulture students applying.

To enter, complete an application form online at

Haynes Bee Manual –

by Diane - October 30th, 2019

The best bee book for beginners. I love this book. I’ve got a copy and I recommend it to everyone who I teach beekeeping to.

It’s available at Wordery for the bargain price of £13.95 which includes free postage.

Brilliant beekeeping book for beginners

Highly recommended. It covers everything you need to know for starting out as a beekeeper. It is a useful guide to read as an introduction and then useful ongoing as a reference.

The HAYNES BEE MANUAL is such a useful book, and in true haynes manual style is packed with plenty of diagrams and graphics to explain the text. It’s not text heavy so you can enjoy reading it with all the illustrations. It comes in so useful that you can use it as the main guide for taking your BBKA Basic assessment and you should do well. The photos are very clear and will help explain the practical craft of beekeeping.

The links on this page will go to Wordery and earn me a small % commission. This helps me maintain the site and allows me to write more articles.

advice for gardening with dementia

by Diane - May 2nd, 2019

Admiral Nurse, Dave’s, advice for gardening with dementia

Dave Bell works on Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline which is staffed entirely by specialist dementia nurses

Maintaining physical activity, cognitive function and social interaction, all helps someone who has dementia to remain stimulated, feel valued and helpful.

Being involved in gardening can really contribute to a person’s wellbeing.  Gardening is on-going and ever-changing; anyone who has a garden will recognise that there is always something to do! Even if you have no garden, and have only limited space (perhaps for a few pots on windowsills) this is an activity that can give great pleasure.  It can distract, engage, add to routines and be a focus for physical activity.

Gardening can provide a fantastic opportunity for stimulation of all the senses. There are the sensations of touch – soil, flowers, bark (but mind the thorns!), and perhaps the feel of a gentle wind, of sun or rain. There is visual stimulation – an amazing range of colour and shapes, sunlight, as well as the wildlife a garden can offer. There are the smells of flowers and vegetables, of herbs or of a freshly mown lawn. And there are the sounds – birdsong, insects, and rustle of wind in trees; and of course, there is taste – eating fruit, vegetables, and even edible flowers such as nasturtiums or marigolds.

It may be that someone’s memory difficulties and cognitive disability can get in the way of a whole sense of what is happening in the garden However, much activity for someone who has dementia is in the ‘here and now’, and the enjoyment of sharing a current task. This can be so rewarding in a garden, where the calmness of the surroundings can also lead to developing and sustaining relationships, not only through doing things together but also through the talk that always takes place.

There are many physical benefits – including dexterity skills and broader exercise through potting, planting, digging, sweeping, weeding and pruning – which can lead to reduced agitation and improved sleep.

There are cognitive benefits too – in terms of getting the person to help plan the activities, and perhaps to choose seeds and consider how flowers and vegetables are organised in the garden.

There are also huge benefits socially. For example, a caller on the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline said recently that she and her mother had never had so many conversations with others on their street as they did when they cut her hedge for an hour last summer, with Mum sitting on a chair, directing, while the daughter did the hard work!

Gardening activities for someone with dementia

There are many gardening activities which could involve the person living with dementia, whatever their disabilities. If they are physically able, they may be able to be prompted to do the tasks themselves.  Otherwise, helping, or even just watching and feeling involved can be enough.

Tasks are there to do all year round, both indoors and outdoors.

  • Planning – This can involve formal planning of how to lay out the garden. It can include a visit to a local garden centre together – a pleasant experience in itself. These are usually safe and easy to navigate places, often with disabled loos and usually with a café attached!
  • Preparing –If the person is able, they can help (or be helped) with preparing beds for sowing, by weeding, removing stones and spreading compost. Getting pots and trays cleaned and ready for sowing is another satisfying task that can be done together.
  • Planting – Planting seeds can be done together, both indoors and out. Together you can buy seeds and sow them in pots or trays in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. If planting directly into the ground, you can work together to make the rows and sow the seeds, and both be involved in watering and tending as shoots appear.
  • Potting and planting out – As seedlings get strong enough, another shared task is repotting or planting out – careful dexterity may be needed, and lots of kneeling! Raised beds can make life a lot easier if you have the space.  Again, the garden centre can be a good place to visit, to buy flowers and vegetables already in pots and ready to plant out at home.
  • Maintenance – This is the on-going, and sometimes most challenging part of gardening! Weeding and watering, as well as fighting off bugs and pests can be a constant battle, but can be hugely satisfying. There are also tasks to do in dead-heading flowers like roses, or in thinning out of plants.
  • Picking/harvesting – This is the fun part of gardening. Picking flowers together can be a wonderful experience. The joy of picking fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, strawberries, beans, peas etc. can involve all the senses, and can be a great opportunity for reminiscing and sharing experiences.
  • Using the produce –This can involve flower arranging or even giving bunches of freshly picked flowers to friends and family which can enhance a person’s sense of self-esteem. Using vegetables in cooking together is a multi-sensory activity, and having a herb garden, or even a range of herbs in pots in the kitchen, can bring back memories and encourage conversations. And it can be a very satisfying few hours spent making jam.

Case study

Anne, a lady of 92, had kept a garden at home, but sadly had to move to a nursing home as her mobility and cognition reduced.  At first she became quite distressed and often called out, as despite the efforts of staff to keep her engaged and stimulated, she spent so many hours alone in the chair next to her bed with just the TV for company.

Fortunately the home found out from her family about her love of her garden and, when a room became available facing onto the garden, Anne was able to move there, where she had a French window that opened onto a patio and a flower bed beyond. Her daughter set up a variety of pots in her view.

Even though she was unable to do much of this herself, Anne could give directions to her daughters, smell and taste the flowers and produce, and, with a bird table set up in her view, could watch the constant stream of birds and even squirrels, come and feed.  Her agitation and feelings of isolation were almost immediately reduced, and the new found pleasures enhanced her relationships with staff and other residents.


by Diane - April 17th, 2019



Paultons Park is inviting horticulture enthusiasts to the Park after it closes to explore its ‘exquisite gardens’ at the first Exclusive Gardens Open Evening.


On Tuesday, July 9 2019, the Paultons Estate – home to the UK’s best-rated theme park Paultons Park, based in the New Forest, is inviting gardening enthusiasts and horticulture groups to roam more than 65 acres of landscaped parkland.


The Exclusive Gardens Open Evening will start at 6.30pm and guests will be able to explore the themed and formal gardens located within Paultons Park, such as the Japanese Garden which opened at the Park in 2017. The dedicated gardening team will be on hand to share the estate’s history and answer questions. During the evening visitors will see themed topiaries, copper water features, historic cedar trees, and much more.


James Mancey, operations director, said: “The Paultons Estate features exquisite gardens rich in history, with the original features laid out by English landscape artist Capability Brown, known as ‘England’s greatest gardener’. Several of Brown’s iconic and recognisable design elements can still be seen today.


“We’re excited to welcome our fellow gardening enthusiasts to Paultons Park for the first Exclusive Gardens Open Evening and share with them a variety of different gardens and features outside that Park’s usual opening hours.”

Tickets for this event are limited and on sale now at: Tickets are charged at £10 per person, with £2 going to the Park’s chosen charity.


Family-friendly rides, the Trekking Tractors and The Dinosaur Tour Co. Jeep Ride will be operating during the evening’s event to transport guests through the gardens in which they operate. Light refreshments will be available to purchase in the Wild Forest restaurant.


by Diane - April 11th, 2019


Chelsea Physic Garden is delighted to announce it has received initial support and development funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the Chelsea Physic Garden Glasshouses Restoration project. *1 

Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to repair and preserve the iconic glass structures within the Garden for at least the next fifty years. Development funding of £172,500 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help Chelsea Physic Garden progress its plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant of £680,000 at a later date.

 The funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will contribute towards this extensive restoration project. Today whilst the glasshouses are home to a range of rare and sub-tropical species, the structures are fragile and in need of significant repair and conservation to restore them to their former glory thus saving them for future generations to enjoy.

 When restored, the glasshouses will provide a much better growing environment for the important and diverse collection of plants. The work will include improvements to the paths and glasshouses to make them more accessible for visitors with disabilities. This will enable the Garden’s team to hold activities and workshops for a wide variety of people so they can discover and experience the history and contemporary relevance of the glasshouses plants.  A programme of open days and events for local communities and schools will highlight plants from the many cultural backgrounds represented in London and in the Garden’s collections.

The first known heated glasshouse in the UK was erected at Chelsea Physic Garden in 1683. This ‘stove house’ as it was known) is thought to have been the first of its kind in Europe.  It was heated using pioneering technology of the period which enabled the gardeners to control the heating and venting to nurture new tender species such as melon and pineapple that had never before been propagated in the UK.

The present glasshouses date back to the late Victorian period and are the most complete range of teak and iron houses in the country. Erected in 1902, these buildings house some of the world’s rarest sub-tropical species together with ferns, succulents and carnivorous plants. Many of these 1200 plants are historically important and some endangered in their natural habitat. Despite being damaged in the 1941 Blitz, these modest but elegant cast iron structures have survived to become an iconic feature within the peaceful surroundings of the historic botanic garden.

To make a donation towards the restoration of Chelsea Physic Garden Glasshouses visit  


“As guardians of such a rare and special plant collection, it’s vitally important for us to ensure these plants and the structures are conserved.  When a pane of glass falls from the glasshouse, leaving the plants vulnerable to the elements I know we must act with speed to start the renovation project” Nell Jones, Head of Plant Collections Chelsea Physic Garden.

 “I am absolutely delighted that we have received the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund and that National Lottery players are supporting us with this initial support.  It enables us to carry out the vital investigative and preparatory work to undertake conservation repairs on our historic Glasshouses.  We will be reaching out into our local communities as we want to know what the plants we grow today mean to people from all of our neighbours, be it in home remedies or in food.  We will also be using this conservation project as an opportunity to ensure that our staff and volunteers have an opportunity to learn new skills. This grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund is a great first step and we will be launching the campaign for the funds we need to achieve the full restoration programme”.  Sue Medway, Director of Chelsea Physic Garden  

Tulip gardens to visit with the National Garden Scheme this spring

by Diane - April 5th, 2019

Tulip gardens to visit with the National Garden Scheme this spring


Blackland House, Wiltshire

April through to May sees many of our gardens transformed into a rainbow of welcome colour as tulips bloom. With 245 gardens with tulips open across England and Wales for the National Garden Scheme there are plenty to choose from, so we have selected a few to get you started.

South West

A riot of red at Yeo Valley Organic Garden, Somerset

The Yeo Valley Organic Garden at Holt Farm, Blagdon in Somerset is one of only a handful of ornamental gardens that is Soil Association accredited. With 6½ acres of contemporary planting, quirky sculptures, bulbs in their thousands, purple palace, glorious meadow and posh vegetable patch it also has great views and green ideas. Open on Sunday 28th April 2-5pm.

The Old Rectory, Netherbury in Dorset is a 5 acre garden designed and maintained by present owners over the last 25 years. Spring bulbs including species tulips and erythroniums are a speciality. They have several open days in April and May.

Blackland House in Calne, Wiltshire, open on the 1st May, is a wonderfully varied 4½ acre garden adjacent to River Marden. There is interesting topiary, trained fruit trees and specialist displays of historic tulips and unusual spring bulbs.

You may also like …

Bickham House, Devon, Kiftsgate Court, Gloucestershire, Tormarton Court, Gloucestershire, Oare House, Wiltshire

South East

Dunsborough Park, Ripley, Surrey has a spectacular tulip displays in the meadow. This magnificent 100-acre estate comprises a series of historical gardens brought to life through vistas and garden architecture. Their tulip opening is on Wednesday 17th April for the National Garden Scheme.

Great Dixter House, Gardens & Nursery at Northiam in East Sussex was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Nathaniel Lloyd. Christopher Lloyd made the garden one of the most experimental and constantly changing gardens of our time, a tradition now being carried on by Fergus Garrett. Spring bulb displays are of particular note. Open for the National Garden Scheme on Sunday 19th April.

Sandhill Farm House in Rogate, West Sussex has front and rear gardens broken up into garden rooms including small kitchen garden with gorgeous displays of tulips. Open on both Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April.

Broughton Grange, in Banbury, Oxfordshire has a large terraced walled garden created by Tom Stuart-Smith in 2001. Good early displays of bulbs followed by outstanding herbaceous planting in summer. There are formal and informal areas which combine to make this a special site including newly laid arboretum with many ongoing projects.

You may also like …

Rymans, West Sussex, The Old Vicarage, Washington, West Sussex, Down Place, West Sussex, The Garden House, East Sussex, Penns in the Rocks, East Sussex, Calico House, Kent, Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire,


As a member of the Society of Garden Designers, Charles Rutherfoord has created the garden at 51 The Chase over 30 years. In 2015 the main garden was remodelled to much acclaim. The garden is spectacular in spring, when 2000 tulips bloom among irises and tree peonies and it has open days on Sunday 28th April and Thursday 2nd May.

East of England

Ulting Wick in Maldon. Essex promises thousands of colourful tulips and flowing innovative spring planting at their openings on Sunday 28th April and Friday 3rd May. It was voted one of the 100 Best Gardens to visit in the UK in Garden News Magazine.

Netherall Manor, Soham Cambridgeshire is an unusual garden appealing to those with historical interest in individual collections of plant groups which includes old English tulips. They have open days on Sunday 7th April and Sunday 5th May.

Alswick Hall in Buntingford, Hertfordshire is a listed Tudor House with 5 acres of landscaped gardens set in unspoiled farmland. At their opening on Sunday 14th April you can enjoy herbaceous borders, shrubs, woodland walk and wild flower meadow with a fantastic selection of daffodils, tulips, camassias and crown imperial.


Thousands of multi-coloured tulips, fritillaries and camassias at The Old Corn Mill, Ross-on-Wye

The Old Corn Mill, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire is 4 acres of woodland, meadows, ponds and streams. A tranquil and relaxed country garden of scents, sights and sounds. Interest all year with drifts of tulips at their April openings.

The Mount at Bishop Castle, Shropshire is an acre of garden that has evolved over 24 years, with a view that sweeps down the valley over fields and then up to the Long Mynd. Daffodils and tulips abound at their opening on Saturday 27th April.

Court House, Stretton-on-Fosse in Warwickshire (open as part of Stretton-on-Fosse Gardens) is a 4 acre garden with year-round interest and colour. Extensive and varied spring bulbs, herbaceous borders, spring beds, fernery and a recently redesigned and restored walled kitchen garden. Open on Sunday 14th April.

John’s Garden at Ashwood Nurseries, nr Kingswinford, Staffordshire, A stunning private garden adjacent to Ashwood Nurseries, it has a huge plant collection and many innovative design features in a beautiful canal-side setting. Open on Sunday 21st April.

You may also like…

Lyndale House, Shropshire, 14 Hartington Crescent (part of Earlsdon Gardens), Warwickshire, The Beeches, Staffordshire, Yew Tree Cottage, Staffordshire, The Manor House, Lincolnshire


Gorsty House in Powys is a garden with planting to attract wildlife. With wooded and shady areas, herbaceous borders with abundant cottage garden planting, hundreds of bulbs in season which you can see at one of their many openings in April and May. You can read more about their love for bulb planting here.

Borders bursting with late spring colour can be found at Glebe House in Abergavenny, Gwent at their May openings (18th & 19th). Set in an AONB in Usk Valley there is a south facing terrace with wisteria and honeysuckle, decorative veg garden, orchard and wildflower meadow in development.

Also in Gwent, High Glanau Manor is a listed Arts and Crafts garden laid out by H Avray Tipping in 1922. Original features including impressive stone terraces with far reaching views over the Vale of Usk to Blorenge, Skirrid, Sugar Loaf and Brecon Beacons.

North of England

The Old Vicarage at Whixley, Yorkshire is a delightful ¾ acre walled flower garden that overlooks the deer park. Gravel and old brick paths lead to hidden seating areas creating the atmosphere of a romantic English garden. They open for the National Garden Scheme on the 6th & 8th May.

Abbeywood Gardens, in Northwich Cheshire is in a superb setting near Delamere Forest. It has approximately 4½ acres of gardens surrounding large Edwardian House with vegetable garden, exotic garden, chapel garden, pool garden, woodland garden, lawned area with beds.

No. 2 Ferndene in Tyne & Wear are open by arrangement for groups of 10 or more to view their tulips. There is also woven willow work – a willow arch, fencing and gates, plus a woven willow ‘barrel’ feature in the garden. A willow ‘hide’ was constructed on the edge of the pond in 2017. To visit this garden please contact the owner in advance to arrange a suitable date.

You may also like …

Lambshield, Northumberland (open by arrangement only), Long Acre, Cheshire, Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, Cheshire

The National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique access to 3,500 exceptional private gardens in England and Wales, and raises impressive amounts of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas and cake.

Thanks to the generosity of garden owners, volunteers and visitors we have donated a total of £58 million to nursing and health charities, and made an annual donation of £3 million in 2019. Our beneficiaries include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK and The Queen’s Nursing Institute.




To find more gardens open throughout spring use our find a garden search facility online at

Snowdrop Festival brings first signs of Spring

by Diane - January 14th, 2019

Snowdrop Festival brings first signs of Spring


On a wintry day there is nothing better than visiting a garden teeming with one of the earliest flowering plants of the year –and the National Garden Scheme’s fourth annual Snowdrop Festival brings the first signs of Spring to everyone with over 92 snowdrop gardens open across England and Wales.

Whether you enjoy carpets of naturalised white in woodlands, meticulously grown rare varieties of snowdrops or gardens boasting a colourful mix of snowdrops, hellebores and other early Spring flowers – there is something for galanthophiles and garden enthusiasts alike throughout January and February.

George Plumptre, Chief Executive of The National Garden Scheme, says:

“Over the last few years the National Garden Scheme’s Snowdrop Festival has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to gardens throughout January and February. But garden visiting at this time of year isn’t just for galanthophiles who are looking to discover a rare variety of snowdrop in gardens they may never otherwise find.  Snowdrops are the perfect antidote to the Winter blues and spending the afternoon at one of our Snowdrop Festival gardens is the ideal opportunity to get outside and enjoy some spectacular scenes at an otherwise depressing time of year.”

Snowdrop garden highlights include:

  • Welford Park, Berkshire

Welford Park in Newbury is one of the finest natural snowdrop woodlands in the country with 4 acres of grounds to discover. The garden may be familiar – Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off is filmed here.

  • Gelli Uchaf, Wales

Gelli Uchaf is a smallholding in Carmarthenshire with an organic 1.5 acre garden. Visitors can enjoy trees and shrubs underplanted with hundreds of thousands of snowdrops (200 cultivars and a unique Welsh Snowdrop Collection), cyclamen, crocus, scillas and other bulbs.

  • Horkesley Hall, Essex

Horkesley hall is an 8 acre romantic garden in Colchester offering an evening snowdrop walk on 19th February, when visitors can enjoy the garden’s snowdrops by the light of the full moon and twinkling fairy lights.

  • Higher Cherubeer, Devon

Higher Cherubeer is a stunning country garden in Winkleigh, which boasts a National Collection of cyclamen species and hellebores, as well as over 400 snowdrop varieties lining woodland paths.

The National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique access to over 3,600 exceptional private gardens in England and Wales, and raises impressive amounts of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas and cake. Thanks to the generosity of garden owners, volunteers and visitors, the National Garden Scheme has donated a total of £55 million to nursing and health charities, and made a record annual donation of £3.1 million in 2018.

To find your perfect snowdrop garden, visit or download the National Garden Scheme app. 

The Asian hornet

by Diane - January 3rd, 2019

I am a beekeeper and I am pledging to make more people aware of the Asian Hornet this year.
It’s a non native species that quite likes eating other insects and unfortunately for honeybees because they live in a colony they provide a whole larder of food for Asian hornets.

The National Bee Unit has a page on the Asian hornet

You should be able to get copies of the poster from your bee inspector or your bee association. It’s important to share these with relevant people – anyone who spends a lot of time outside and will observe an unusual insect. Whether it’s gardeners, groundskeepers, the council’s tree man, they all need to know.

If you’re in a bee club you’ll probably have discussed an Asian hornet action team. If not, go back to your group and ask!

The poster shows the asian hornet and details of the abdomen which has one yellow stripe. They look like lit cigarettes coming at you apparently. If you sit next to your hives you can watch for them hawking your bees.
Monitoring traps are a good idea – but need to be regularly emptied of the native species that might get caught in the trap.

Asian hornet identification


If you’re not a beekeeper then you could get the poster and display it at your local garden centre – just ask, I’m sure they’ll let you put a poster up. Share it with as many people as you can. Thanks