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10 of the best open gardens to visit in Lancashire and the Lake District

PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 May 2015

The Barn on the Green

The Barn on the Green

Linda Viney

Our gardening expert Linda Viney is constantly on the look-out for the region’s top plots. Here are ten of her favourites

Spring is in the air and thoughts turn to the great outdoors. Plants are wakening, bulbs blooming and birds singing - what better time to visit the many gardens whose owners open their gates raising money for many different charities?

Small or large they all have their own beauty and style, while the owners are often on hand giving you the opportunity to gather ideas and tips. You may also find villages will have an ‘Open Gardens’ day. Many of the stately homes also give us the chance to see plants growing in large borders, some we don’t get to see in a natural garden setting. Large estates have their own problems and they will be on a much larger scale giving the gardeners challenges of their own.

There is great emphasis on ‘Grow Your Own’ and you will see on your travels it is possible to grow vegetables in a container or try placing the more decorative varieties in your flower border. For example, Lollo Rosso lettuce makes a decorative edge for a border.

I have been fortunate to visit many gardens all over the country but I enjoy nothing more than seeing those closer to home. The National Garden Scheme (NGS) produce their Yellow Book listing open gardens throughout the country including the North West or look on www.ngs.org.uk.

Here I have selected just a few to give you a taste and encourage you to see many more. It is also a good way to add a plant or two to your own garden for many will have plants on sale which you know will survive in our climate because that is where they have been grown. And who can resist a delicious slice of home made cake and cup of tea to round off your day?

1. The Barn on the Green, Inglewhite, PR3 2LP

Open Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th, Monday 25th May from 11am to 4pm, admission £4.50, children free. Again we have the opportunity to visit this stunning garden covering over an acre with views over the countryside beyond. It has been lovingly created by Vivienne and Arthur Massey-Fairhurst with enthusiasm and hard work for them to enjoy as well as giving pleasure to others’. Sadly Arthur died last year but his artistic input into this stunning masterpiece lives on and Vivienne has again opened the garden gates to allowing us to enjoy whilst raising money for charity.

2. Levens Hall Gardens, Kendal, LA8 0PD.

Open until 8th October Sundays to Thursdays from 10am to 5pm. Admission Gardens only £9, children aged 5 years to 16 years £3, Family £21, extra if you want to visit the Hall as well. The 100 pieces of Topiary here are world renowned but there is so much more to see including the Parterre beneath the Topiary. The scented Rose Garden entices you to bend over and take in the perfume of these traditional English blooms. Many of the fruit trees in the Orchard are very old and much valued for their beautiful blossom in spring. The main double herbaceous borders cut straight through the garden leading to the beech circle the out to the Ha-Ha. They are planted in mainly pastel shades and wooded obelisks stand amongst the plants to support clematis. Vegetables grown here show they have a beauty of their own and no garden is complete without a water feature and here it is on a grand scale with a circular pond with a fountain.

3. Wedgwood Garden, Hesketh Bank, PR4 6XP.

Open by appointment June and July for the NGS. Telephone 01772816509, heskethbank@aol.com, www.wedgwoodgarden.com

admission £5, children free includes tea and biscuits. When the sun shines the rainbow of colours here can set the spirits soaring and a gazebo forms the centre of a Rainbow Garden. The greenhouse has become their second home and visitors can sit in comfort surrounded by tomatoes, figs, climbing and colourful plants. The plot is long and thin stretching to one acre and being on sea level can flood. It is exposed to many strong, salt laden, gale force winds therefore shelter had to be provided. A number of small gardens maximise the different growing conditions throughout which create a diversity of interest.

4. Dutton Hall, Ribchester, PR3 3XX.

Open for the NGS Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th June, admission £5, children free. Private groups tours are available but must be booked at least a week in advance, telephone 01254 878254 or email info@duttonhall.co.uk, www.duttonhall.co.uk. The gardens surround the historic house and has both contemporary and traditional features. There is an extensive collection of over 200 varieties of old fashioned roses. With extensive views down the Ribble Valley best obtained from the ‘Snail Mound’. A small wild flower meadow with orchids, plus a newly built rockery and terraced bed, contrast with the formality of the knot garden. A old cattle shed has been converted into an orangery full of plants.

5. 79 Crabtree Lane, Burscough, L40 0RW.

Open Sunday 17th May, Sunday 14th June, Sunday 12th July from 11am to 4pm, also by appointment May to July. Telephone 01704 893713 or email peter.curl@btinternet.com. Admission £3.50, children free. This garden covers three quarters of an acre and like many gardens is always evolving whilst keeping the main structures. There is a fish pond which is surrounded by a large rockery plus a koi pond with waterfall. A delightful stone Potting Shed sits amongst colour themed herbaceous borders and island beds, shrubs and woodland area. There is a gravel garden with Mediterranean planting and a late summer hot bed, with coolness from a hosta and fern walk.

6. Dalmain, Penrith, CA11 0HB.

Open until 29th October Sunday to Thursday 10.30am to 5pm (4pm in October), admission £3, under 16’s free, extra if you want to include the house. The five acre plants mans garden is all about colour, texture and shape. An unusual combination of flowers adds to the haven of tranquility. The garden has developed over the centuries with each generation comes new passions thus adding new plants. A Silver Fir is the biggest of its’ type in the British Isles, there is a Tudor Knot Garden and Rose Walk. Ancient apple trees are named 18th/19th century ones with 30 varieties, their fruit is used in the Tea Room. May and June you will see a dazzling display of Himalayan Poppies. There is a wild area with pond and riverside walk plus a children’s garden which will delight all ages.

7. Casa Lago, 1 Woodlands Park, Whalley, BB7 9UG,

Open Sunday 14th June from 1pm to 5pm, also by appointment June to September telephone 01254 824903 or email powers@carolepowers6orangehome.co.uk, admission £3, children free. This is an inspiring almost magical garden where the owners have managed to included many different features in a relatively small area. There are Koi ponds, bamboos and grasses as well as bananas offering a taste of the orient, whilst a collection of hosts add a certain coolness. The raised deck area is surrounded by a pebble beach with box inserts. A display of Alpines and green, white and lemon prairie meadow completes the picture.

8. Waddow Lodge Garden, Clitheroe Road, Waddington, BB7 3HQ.

Open Sunday 24th May and Sunday 19th July from 1pm to 5pm. This is a two acre organic garden created for all seasons. Surrounding a Georgian House (not open) it has vies across Pendle and Bowland. An enthusiasts collection of unusual plants with herbaceous borders, large island beds with shrubs, rhododendrons, heathers and a small wooded area. Scent from old fashioned and hybrid roses delight. There is a kitchen garden with vegetables and soft fruit plus a heritage apple orchard. A developing wildflower meadow and colourful containers all ensure you will find plenty to look at and gain knowledge from Peter Foley who is well known for his gardening talks.

9. Summerdale House, Nook, near Lupton, LA6 1PE.

Open every Friday until the 28th August from 11am to 4.30pm and Sunday 3rd May, 21st June, from 11.30am to 4pm. Admission £4, children free. www.summerdalegardenplants.co.uk.

This is a one and half acre part-walled country garden surrounding an 18th century former vicarage. Hedges have been used to define different areas, each with its own theme and linked by intricate cobbled pathways. There are fine views across to Farleton Fel, and traditional herbaceous borders, ponds, woodland and meadow planting provide year round interest. There is a large collections of auricula, primulas and snowdrops. It is a fine example of what 15 years hard work and dedication along with a love of plants and traditional English garden design can achieve. Alongside the garden there is a small nursery growing a wide range of interesting and unusual herbaceous perennials. Home made jams and chutneys for sale are an added bonus.

10. Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, CA18 1RQ.

Telephone 01229 717614, email info@muncaster.co.uk, www.muncaster.co.uk.

Gardens open daily 10.30am to 5pm, 11am to 4pm late season. Check for details of cafe and castle opening times.

Admission costs for gardens, owl centre and maze vary according to season, main season £10.50, 5yr to 15yr £6.50, under 5s free, extra for castle. Described by John Ruskin as a ‘Gateway to Paradise’ these magnificent gardens date back to the 18th century and are home to one of Europe’s largest collection of rhododendrons. You are taken on a journey round the world in over 70 acres of gardens with stunning views over the Esk Valley to Scafell Pike.

However don’t expect neat borders and regimented ranks of bedding plants, this wild, woodland garden will surprise and delight with banks of colour cascading down the hillsides and ravines. Check out the wonderful Himalayan Gardens which are startlingly similar to being 3350 metres (11,000ft) high in the Himalayan foothills.The World Owl Centre here is also a must.

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