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Friday, 17 April 2015

Days enjoying other gardens and helping to raise money too

I can't tell you how lovely it is to see the sunshine  these days. With the soil growing warmer and more colour in the garden, it's time to head out to other people's gardens  for inspiration, to appreciate what they've achieved, and to relax with a piece of cake after a nice walk .

Yes, the Open Gardens season has begun....

The Yellow Book details hundreds of gardens all over the UK which open each year for charity, and since its foundation, the National Gardens Scheme has donated over £45 million to nominated beneficiaries, of which nearly £23 million has been donated within the last ten years.

That's a lot of money, which is shared between charities such as Macmillan Cancer Care, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Carers Trust, Parkinsons UK and others.

There's a garden not too far away from me, just across the county border in Northamptonshire in the village of Clipston which has opened for many years. I've been meaning to go and see it for ages, but never quite seeming to get around to it. Well, on Easter Monday, I made a special effort to get there...and I'm so pleased I did, because it was the last time it would be open for the charity.

The garden is called The Maltings, and it lies to the side of a lovely red brick cottage, on a gentle slope.

To the left of the garden behind the house, there's a beautiful spring garden, a mass of colourful primroses and spring bulbs.

Two ponds are connected by a stream

And the owner Julia Connell has erected lots of signage,


and oh so helpfully, there are masses of plant labels, which is not only useful but an outright necessity when there are over forty varieties of roses in the garden, as well as sixty types of clematis.

There's also some amusing and interesting features...including this owl, which was used as a decoration for the one of the obstacles on the cross country element of the eventing completion at the 2008 Bejing Olympic Games.

And many of the visitors were admiring this unusual planter....

At the top of the garden, as well as a large lawn, there was a large barn, where the useful in a garden became quite decorative too.

I must confess I like looking at the utilitarian parts of a garden....the strawberries grown in hessian bags, the raised vegetable beds, and the old greenhouse with a very productive peach tree.

And then it was time to sit in the sunshine with a cold drink, admiring the magnolia , and everyone else's choice of cake. There was a fair selection of delicious looking cakes and good size portions too. My mother and I rather regretted having had so much to eat at lunchtime.

The main thing I regret though is not having visited this garden before. I now won't be able to see the seventy varieties of clematis or smell the scent of the forty types of roses there in summer.

The owner of the Maltings Julia Connell has created a wonderfully diverse garden here

and she and her team of helpers have raised a staggering amount of money during the years the garden has been open. Over this Easter weekend alone, 1046 visitors came to see the garden, and in total during the  ten years that Julia has been opening., there have been 8,895visitors. This has meant that altogether, Julia has raised £25,000 for the National Gardens Scheme and nearly £10,000 for local charities too.

 That's what I call good news...and a lot of hard work. Sadly, the Maltings won't be opening again, but in the meantime, there's so many more gardens to see and enjoy which will be open this year. I've promised myself that I'm going to be visiting a fair few. Why don't you do too?


  1. Such lovely pictures! I love the open gardens scheme - a few people near me with smalle gardens club together, and it makes for such a lovely Sunday in the summer going from one to another.

  2. Thanks Jo.....yes,. I love it too when there's several gardens in the same village open at the same time....a veritable feast....

  3. A lovely post Bridget and I too was so glad to get to The Maltings and see the garden in all of its glory. Lovely to have the photos too. My post was meant to go up last week but didn't publish and I didn't realise. Serendipity perhaps!

  4. Yes, I'm pleased we were both able to go the garden before it closed for the last time...I enjoyed your blog too, and loved the way you honed in on the hellebores!