The Garden Visitor’s Handbook gets a revamp
That bible of gardening days out, The Garden Visitor’s Handbook (also known as the Yellow Book) has a bright new look for 2017, the 90th anniversary of the National Garden Scheme (NGS).
It’s the guide to the gardens opening this year for the NGS and the book is available now, price £11.99, available from www.ngs.org.uk.
Whatever plants you’re into, or wherever you want to go, visit the Garden Finder onsite to plan your days out – most gardens are only open for selected days.
North East gardens which can be visited by appointment
Many of the NGS gardens can be visited by appointment, as well as on specific open days. Here are some of the best in North East England:
Oak Hall, Crookham, Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland TD12 4TH.
- Developed over 20 years, this garden blends into views of the Cheviots. Partially woodland, underplanted with shrubs and shade-loving plants, featuring drifts of snowdrops, spring bulbs and lily of the valley, a herbaceous border, pondside planting, peony borders, roses, a small orchard and fruit and vegetable garden.
- Visitors welcome by arrangement February to October, £5. Groups max 20 (6 cars). Contact John & Jancis Benn, tel 01890 820250, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 Low Row, North Bitchburn, Crook, County Durham DL15 8AJ.
- Unusual, organic garden, mostly grown from seeds and cuttings. Sloping garden with a myriad of paths and extensive views over the Wear Valley. Open all year except Tuesdays.
- Visitors welcome by arrangement January to November for individuals and groups of 20 max. Admission £3, children free. Contact Ann Pickering, 01388 766345, email email@example.com.
Ravensford Farm, Hamsterley, County Durham DL13 3NH.
- Spring bulbs are a feature, as are many unusual shrubs and trees. Visitors welcome by arrangement – contact Jonathan and Caroline Peacock, 01388 488305, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 and 2 Hillside Cottages, Low Etherley, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL14 0EZ.
- At Number 1, grass paths lead you through trees and shrubs including many interesting specimens. Number 2 is based on island beds and has a cottage garden feel with perennials and a wild area, vegetables, and fruit. Both gardens have ponds and water features.
- Open day Sunday, May 21 (1.30-5pm). Combined admission £4, children free. Home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement February to October. Contact Mary Smith, Eric and Delia Ayres, 01388 832727, email email@example.com.
Breckon Hill, Westgate, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL13 1PD.
- At 1100ft above sea level, there are fabulous views of Weardale from the south-facing walled garden. Visitors welcome by arrangement March to July individual groups of up to 12 people. Admission (including tea and cake) £3, children free.
- Contact Jennie & David Henderson, 01388 517735, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries, Harperley, Stanley, County Durham DH9 9UB
- The garden is developing around large ponds and is filled with Primulas, including Primula ‘Inverewe’ and P pulverulenta Bartley’s Hybrid, Meconopsis, including M. ‘Lingholm’, M. quintuplinervia, M. cookei and the very rare M punicea ‘Sichuan Silk’. Also a wide range of hostas, ferns, and orchids including Dactylorhiza and Cypripedium. A flock of Rainbow and other Lorikeet fly freely around the garden.
- Open days: Sunday, May 14; Sunday, September 24 (10am-4pm). Admission £3, children free, home-made teas. Visitors also welcome by arrangement March to September. Contact Gary McDermott, 01207 233318, email email@example.com, mail order website www.harperleyhallfarmnurseries.co.uk. Read my review of the nursery and gardens here.
Ushaw College, Woodland Road, Durham, County Durham DH7 9BJ.
- Part of the 50-acre landscape within open countryside around Ushaw College, originally laid out in 1840 in front of the Georgian house with a formal rhododendron garden with herbaceous borders and rose beds. Extensive renovations have been under way for the last three years.
- Open days: Saturday, June 10, Saturday, August 12 (11am-5pm). Admission £4, children free. Visitors welcome by arrangement March to October for 10+. Contact The Trustees of Ushaw College, 0191 3738502, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.ushaw.org.
Woodside House, Witton Park, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL14 0DU.
- Three acre garden with island beds, flowing herbaceous borders, an old walled garden, rhododendron beds, fernery, ponds, and vegetable garden. Winner of Bishop Auckland in Bloom.
- Open day: Sunday, July 23 (2-5pm). Admission £5, children free. Home-made teas. Visitors welcome by arrangement March to September for groups of 10+. Contact Charles and Jean Crompton, 01388 609973, email email@example.com.
Congburn Arboretum, Edmondsley, Durham DH7 6DY
- The North East’s only official ‘daffodil garden’ open on Sunday, April 2, from 10am-4pm. Admission £3, children free, www.congburnnurseries.co.uk. The paths are steep and not suitable for wheelchairs.