Wednesday 24 July 2013

National Gardens Scheme - Barlborough

National Gardens Scheme - Open Weekend at Barlborough, Derbyshire
Whilst I have written about my garden on this blog once thing is for certain – show garden it ain't. Keen gardeners can admire the splendour and big budgets at the RHS shows at Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton Park but in reality our own modest plots are never going to come up to scratch. Thankfully there are a number of dedicated gardeners across the country who not only lovingly tend their gardens to expert standard but are also willing to open them to the public for charity through the National Gardens Scheme (NGS).

A rare chance to see what lies beyond the gates
This year the famous 'Yellow Book' produced by the NGS lists over 3,700 gardens which open to the public in 2013. The money raised through admission tickets, refreshments, plant sales and other other activities goes towards the national nominated charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices, Carers Trust, The Queen's Nursing Institute, The Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Fund (Perennial) and The National Trust. Fund raising for local charities is also permitted. So when my friend Christine asked if I could help out running the tombola stall at her garden I jumped at the chance.

Roll up! Roll Up! Homemade prizes on the tombola
Everybody seemed impressed with the range of prizes we had on offer. All the prizes were homemade and Christine also used a variety of ingredients from the garden for the lavender sugar, rose sugar, elderflower cordial, blackberry and apple jam and rhubarb mini loaves. Over the two days the tombola plus the sales of the seeds donated by Dobies of Devon raised £186.

Dahlias and some of the lavender used in the tombola prizes
Many of the gardens that open through the NGS do so by themselves. In Barlborough the whole village gets involved over the weekend. The parish church of St. James celebrates its Patronal Festival with a flower festival. Throughout the village are a number of scarecrows made by various local groups plus the Derbyshire tradition of well dressing. For the NGS there is a whopping six gardens that open and all for the bargain price of £5.

Scarecrow made by Barlborough School Club
Each of gardens that open in Barlborough are different. Christine and Vernon at The Hollies took up the challenge of turning an usual suburban layout into a hidden rural haven.

A hidden rural enclave and a RHS Chelsea gnome!
The plot where their house now stands was once part of the large garden of the house that stands at the front. For most people the long and narrow strip down the driveway would have been simply bricked over but Christine and Vernon have used every space available to them. Ornamental flowers are planted between a number of fruit and vegetable varieties.
Don't brick over all your drive - there's valuable planting space to be gained
At the back of the house are beautiful views across the fields. In this limited space the levels have been raised to increase the amount of planting space available.

If you run out of space move upwards
Run out of planting space? You need to start container gardening. Even the smallest garden can fit a few pots in. Herbs and salad leaves are particularly good for this type of gardening and of course provide tasty food. It may seem hard work when it comes to watering but container gardening is great exercise and makes you appreciate the rain even more!

Herbs and salad leaves make great plants for container gardening
As we were so busy I didn't have much chance to look around the other gardens – the only downside to being a volunteer! However, I was able to sneak a last minute look round Clarendon. My son was quite enchanted by the resident chickens and enjoyed walking over the bridge with the pond underneath. My daughter had a quick game of croquet on the immaculate lawn. All year round interest is provided by the wide range of conifers.

Where does the secret path at The Hollies lead to?
I arrived home on the Sunday evening with a rather nice feeling of accomplishment. This was compounded when I received an email later that night with the news that an amazing £3,321.30 had been raised for the NGS. If you missed it this year we're already planning for 2014. In the meantime there are plenty of other NGS gardens to find near you.

8 Years ago this was rubble and weeds...

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