10 glorious Buckinghamshire gardens to visit in 2016
PUBLISHED: 15:13 14 March 2016 | UPDATED: 15:13 14 March 2016
Unseasonal weather has seen many of us wandering around our own gardens, and in the months to come some beautiful displays await you. Sandra Smith tells us more
Quainton Gardens - 21 February
At the foot of Quainton Hills four gardens, some of which are organic resulting in a proliferation of garden birds and amphibians, will open in February, each showcasing their different nature. Thorgumbold is a cottage garden with a large display of snowdrops, spring flowers will be in abundance at Capricorner, whilst The Vine boasts a variety of tree species as well as early narcissi. Garden sculpture and a greenhouse with orchids and insectivorous plants are Mill View’s attractions. This group has raised nearly £10,000 over the past five years and looks forward to another successful season.
Magnolia House - 6 March
Over 400 hostas at this 1950s Wooburn garden mingle with more unusual plants such as bamboo, ginger lilies and Australia’s living fossil, Wollemi Pine. “The garden relies on leaf colour and structure creating a jungle feeling,” says owner Alan Ford, who installed a bore hole to feed his house and garden with pure spring water from 300 feet below. See also a wildlife pond, carp, aviaries with love birds and a cockatiel. But don’t forget to make the most of refreshments on offer. In case of bad weather, visitors may take refuge inside the garden room.
Rivendell - 10 April
“The really nice thing about being part of the NGS,” smiles Janice Cross, “is seeing the enjoyment people get from coming here. We have a fun time as we meet so many lovely people and hear their gardening stories. There’s learning on both sides, but the icing on the cake is that visitors put their hands in their pockets.”
Janice and Mike have spent years cultivating their Chesham Bois garden. Ferns, evergreen shrubs and hellebores make up some of the 600 varieties on display. There will be homemade cakes to tempt visitors, along with plants to buy.
The Plough - 8 May
The inspiration which drives John Stewart’s creative skills and passion for garden design were nurtured during his career as an architect. Radiating garden sections embrace box hedges, fruit garden, a neat vegetable garden, circular private seating area and a woodland walk, not to mention uninterrupted views from Terrick across the Chilterns. “We have opened The Plough for the last six years,” says John. “We serve tea and cakes in our barn and also sell jams and apple juice made from our fruit.”
Abbots House - 5 June
A former Kew Gardens horticulture student, Jane Rennie not only maintains high standards in her Winslow garden, she is also keen to converse with other gardeners: “I have opened to the public for about 20 years; when the garden looks great it is a pleasure to share it.”
Different levels encompass a June flowering white wisteria pergola, woodland garden, upper pond overflowing to a lower lawn, herbaceous planting, swimming pool, walled kitchen garden and meadow lawn. As well as entry fees going to the NGS tea, cake and plant sales enable Jane to donate to local charities.
Higher Denham - 5 June
Four gardens open together beside the chalk stream in the Misbourne Valley. Optional guided tours are available as you enjoy the varied delights, from hundreds of shrubs and trees, wild areas and a terrace view of a garden full of plants, fruit bushes and vegetables. If you haven’t been for a couple of years look out in particular for the garden in Lower Road which has been professionally redesigned.
Hill House - 3 July
A town garden designed for ease of maintenance with colour and interest via roses, hostas and herbaceous plants, Buckingham’s Hill House is a regular for NGS visitors. “We open by appointment,” says Leonie Thorogood, “and I am happy to provide tea and cake for small groups or individuals, or wine and canapés for evening visits.” Although no longer selling plants, Leonie recommends good local nurseries and encourages members of the Hardy Plant Society to sell plants via her garden, on the old castle walls by the parish church in a conservation area.
Danesfield House - 10 August
This Marlow property is not only one of our most magnificent hotels, its 65 acres gardens showcase views overlooking the Thames, cascading waterfalls and a woodland walk. Here Head Gardener Jason Salway leads a team intent on restoring the grounds to their former glory. From formal Italian areas to yew topiary pruned to original designs and a rare collection of pulhamite, this is a jewel in the NGS calendar. Koi carp are kept in the Japanese garden, and deer roam the grounds.
Lords Wood - 15 September
This house built in the Lutyens style at Marlow Common is home to David and Millie Messum. Over the last four decades they have redesigned their two acres of formal gardens with its ponds, water features, vegetable garden, wild flower meadow and woodland. You can also view works by renowned British sculptors. From the marquee at the gate homemade cakes will be served along with Lords Wood Apple juice. For anyone with horticultural questions, professional gardeners will also be hand.
Acer Corner - 15-16 October
“We became involved with NGS because I enjoy opening the garden and interacting with visitors,” says Jo Naiman. “This year we’ve built an extension so there will be some changes outside as well. The area near the house will become a Japanese style garden.” Acer Corner, in the heart of Wendover, is a small plot with winding paths. Foliage and texture from a rich variety of plants reflect Jo’s interest in Japanese embroidery and ceramics. Her horticultural knowledge is self taught via books and a Foundation Degree, though visitors will see she has also allowed plants to evolve at their own pace.
Visiting the gardens
For full details of opening times and directions see www.ngs.org.uk.