A yellow sign declaring "Garden Open" is what gardening enthusiasts in
the UK look out for on a Sunday afternoon (and less numerously, on a
Wednesday). It points the way to a garden open under the National
Gardens Scheme, an organisation which has been operating now for over
80 years, listing all the gardens participating each week in the ubiquitous
"Yellow Book", which comes out at the beginning of the year.
You have to be a special garden to get into the book - there have been a
couple of series of programmes on TV, called "Open Garden", showing just
what sort of an ordeal owners have to sometimes go through to be
accepted into the Scheme - the County Organisers, who come to inspect,
seem to be uniformly terrifying!
They require "at least 45 minutes worth of interest", for which one pays a
small fee (it was £3.00 UK pounds this afternoon) - with most of the
entrance fee going to charity - often split between local good causes and
"national nursing, caring and gardening charities." (Often the wonderfully
practical Macmillan Cancer Care) - and for that, you get to see the garden,
buy often very unusual plants - and of course, in the best traditions of
British visiting, you get the chance of a piece of home-made cake and a
Nice Cup of Tea!
For those who are accepted - and the gardens range from tiny cottage
gardens to grand country houses - it is an achievement which other
gardeners recognise as being of particular merit. If you have managed to
banish every last weed and have all your flowers on glorious display with
not a petal out of place, if your garden finally gets to be in "The Yellow
Book" then you have made it - and can bask in the glory for ever more!
Today's garden - Sandleford Place, just five minutes from Autumn Cottage, was of the Country House variety - so come for a wander around with me, and see how lovely June in England was today.
Discover more about the NGS here