Gardening: A new leaf this spring

OPENING TIME: Newby Hall is just one of many Yorkshire gardens opening for the NGS.
OPENING TIME: Newby Hall is just one of many Yorkshire gardens opening for the NGS.
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As spring arrives gardeners start to throw open their grounds to charity. David Overend reports.

Spring must be just around the corner; not because there are snowdrops and other bulbs madly blooming, but because the latest list of Yorkshire gardens open for charity has been shoved through the letterbox.

So, it’s time to banish the winter blues and visit a garden for a bit of horticultural inspiration and a warm welcome from the owners – perhaps even a cup of tea and a bun.

Visiting an NGS private garden, paying a modest entry donation, having a chat with the owner and enjoying that cuppa raised more than £145,000 last year – a record amount for Yorkshire gardens supporting NGS charities.

The open season begins with a trickle as one or two gardens brave the end of winter.

Snowdrops and early spring bulbs are the mainstays at this time of year, but as Nature begins to get into her stride, weekends become packed with the chance to visit gardens great and small.

In Yorkshire, there are more than 180 gardens opening this year, and all are listed in the free booklet, Yorkshire Gardens 2016, which gives details of opening times, what to see, where to go and how much it will cost.

Many gardens will open on a day especially for the National Gardens Scheme; others can be visited only by prior arrangement.

Seventeen new gardens will open throughout Yorkshire this year, including Low Westwood, at Golcar, near Huddersfield, which boasts 110 yards of canal frontage among its one-and-a-half acres.

And Walker’s Nursery, in Doncaster, is offering wine and canapés when it opens in August. There are eight acres of gardens to enjoy – including a box parterre, a sunken garden, plenty of specimen trees and shrubs and open grassland.

Over at Seaton Ross, near York, garden designer and lecturer Roger Brook is opening his no-dig garden with more than 1,500 varieties of plants, including the National Collection of Dicentra.

Old favourites such as Newby Hall, Dove Cottage Nursery Garden and Stillingfleet Lodge show how to arrange planting to wonderful effect throughout the year and offer a wide range of plants for sale.

Yorkshire Gardens 2016 is available free from TICs, libraries, garden centres and nurseries throughout the county and from NGS publicity officer and county organisers. And for information about the famous Yellow Book, listing all NGS openings throughout the country, log on to ngs.org.uk