A Great Day Out: Open Gardens in Kent
March, April and May Gardens
140 gardens across Kent will open to the public in 2016, from grand estates to tiny jewel-like town gardens. Some of these secret gardens, many of them private, open for just one or two afternoons each year. It is easy to find which ones are open: pick up the free Kent Open Gardens booklet, available at local libraries, the tourist offices and garden centres; or you can download the app from ngs.org.uk or log on to the NGS website’s Garden Finder, ngs.org.uk, and search for a garden near you. Open gardens make for a great day out, and most open gardens have delicious homemade cakes and teas on sale too.
March is a great time to shake off the winter and get out to one of the 20 garden openings this month. Godinton House, near Ashford, is open on 6th March (and again on 20th March) – a perfect destination for Mothers’ Day. Hoath House, in the beautiful countryside near Edenbridge, is open 7th and 8th March for daffodils with teas on the terrace. Goodnestone Park near Canterbury is open 20th March where you can stroll through the walled gardens and woodland walks. Celebrate Easter weekend with a visit to Cobham Hall near Rochester and Mere House near Maidstone open Monday 28th March for daffodils and teas. Many more March openings can be seen on the ngs.org.uk website.
April is a wonderful month for days out to Kent’s open gardens. Many grand estates open their gates: Godmersham Park (3rd April) Hole Park (10th April) Lords (17th April) Doddington Place (20th April) Sissinghurst (24th April) Riverhill Himalyan Gardens (26th April) and Great Maytham Hall (27th April). Riverside gardens opening include Parsonage Oasts (3rd April) and Watergate House (23rd April) Plantaholics will flock to Frith Old Farmhouse on 24th April and Copton Ash on 10th April to see rare alpines and spring bulbs.
May sees an explosion of 44 gardens openings in Kent. This is a good time to get the kids out for woodland walks and a run on sweeping lawns. Try Ladham House and Stonewall Park on 8th May, Chartwell on 11th May, and Doddington Place and Torry Hill on 15th May. For a special private view of Canterbury Cathedral’s gardens, mark Sunday 29th May in your diary. Many of the gardens, as well as providing teas, sell plants propagated by the garden owner and there is always a rush for the plant stall. See the ngs.org.uk website for details of the many other National Gardens Scheme openings.
The National Gardens Scheme, with the support of its hardworking garden owners and volunteers, raised over £2.6 million for caring charities last year, including Macmillan Cancer, Marie Curie, and Hospice UK. The garden owners are looking forward to your visits and know you will enjoy the peace and beauty of Kent’s gardens this spring.