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Explore an unspoilt Kent village and its gardens this weekend

Three new private gardens opening their gates for the first time

Looking for something great to do this weekend (June 26 and 27)? Consider exploring some of the county’s private gardens which will open their (back) doors to allow your to share in their delights. Yes, this weekend is when the gardens will be open as part of the National Garden Scheme*. I must say I think this is just the greatest of ideas.

Groups of gardens opening in the same village are always a real treat and excellent value for money! It’s a complete delight for the senses and, as you go from one to another, you’ll discover a wide-variety of different planting schemes, garden sizes and types and barrow-loads of inspiration. 

Womenswold, near Canterbury

A diverse variety of cottage gardens in an idyllic situation in an unspoilt hamlet, mostly surrounding a 13th century Church. Cottage garden with variety of old climbing and shrub roses, clematis, vegetable bed and beehives; a garden in a setting of a traditional 17th century thatched cottage; colourful garden with ponds, waterfalls, tropical area with many rare plants and a large collection of agapanthus; a garden with a large display of perennials, kniphofias &and hemerocallis; a two-acre plantsman’s garden partially created in old chalk quarry-with vegetables, orchard, alpines, poly-tunnel with tender fruit. A very picturesque terraced cottage garden, with unusual plants, feature pond with lovely views of the church. Teas in lovely garden setting.

Features and attractions: Easy walking distance between gardens. North Downs Way runs through village. Many unusual plants for sale. Teas in lovely restful garden with home-made cakes. Produce stall; church open. Additional parking in village with mini-bus running regularly for garden lying outside main village. Just £5 to see all the gardens open this weekend. Children go free. Dog-friendly too!

Opening dates: Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 June (11am-5pm). CLICK HERE for more information and pictures.

FOR OTHER GROUP GARDEN OPENINGS TO VISIT OVER THE SUMMER, INCLUDING BY THE SEASIDE, CLICK HERE

Womenswold, near Canterbury (smugmug.com)

Three new private gardens opening their gates for the first time

Three new gardens in very different settings open their gates for the first time this weekend: a country vicarage, a contemporary coastal garden and a redesigned Wealden hall house garden where you can enjoy an evening glass of wine.

Arnold Yoke, Leeds, Maidstone

Recently redesigned half-acre garden, adjacent to 15th century Wealden Hall house with formal structure of box and yew embracing long mixed border, and centrally placed ‘paradise garden’ with water feature. Regret, no children. Refreshments included in £10 entry price. Prosecco/wine for a donation.

Opening date: Saturday 26 June (5pm-8pm). CLICK HERE for more information and pictures.

69 Capel Street, Folkestone

A contemporary urban cottage garden. A clever use of traditional and modern planting providing colour throughout the seasons. A rectangular garden where straight lines have been diffused by angles and planting. Space is provided for vegetables for self sufficiency. A quiet location occasionally amplified by a passing Spitfire. Walking distance to the famous Battle of Britain Memorial and pleasant walks along the White Cliffs of Dover. £4 entry. Children free entry.

Opening dates: Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 June (10.30am-4.30pm). CLICK HERE for more information and pictures.

The Old Vicarage, Tonge, Sittingbourne

A delightful mature garden of just less than three acres, which includes an arboretum with some unusual trees, for example a tulip tree, a magnificent cedar and ancient yews. Gravel paths meander through the wood and onto lawns where they pass formal hedging, mixed herbaceous borders, an active dovecote, a cut flower garden, a potager, a herb garden and more. £5 entry. Children free entry.

Opening dates: Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 June (11am-4.30pm). CLICK HERE for more information and pictures.

CLICK HERE FOR ALL OPEN GARDENS WEEKEND OF 26-27 JUNE

About the National Garden Scheme

The National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique access to more than 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 it has donated more than £60 million to nursing and health charities, and made a donation of £2.88m in 2020. Founded in 1927 to support district nurses, it is now the most significant charitable funder of nursing in the UK and its beneficiaries include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, The Queen’s Nursing Institute, Parkinson’s UK and Carers Trust. 

The National Garden Scheme doesn’t just open beautiful gardens for charity – it is passionate about the physical and mental health benefits of gardens too. It funds projects which promote gardens and gardening as therapy, and in 2017, it launched its annual Gardens and Health Week to raise awareness of the topic. 

To find your perfect garden, visit ngs.org.uk, download the National Garden Scheme app or buy the National Garden Scheme’s Garden Visitor’s Handbook, which is published annually and available via ngs.org.uk/shop and at all good book retailers.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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