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Permission to Trespass: Local Gardens Open for Charity (Harringey)

open gardens scheme

The British love affair with other people’s gardens began in the 16th century, and neighbourly trespassing has been a popular national pursuit ever since.    By the time Elizabeth Bennet visited Pemberley (the setting of her encounter with its owner, Mr Darcy, in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice of 1813) such outings were a well-established pastime of the middle classes.  In the novel, as in life, social class played a significant part in the dynamic between the visitor and the visited, between those who tended the gardens and those who enjoyed them.   This dynamic has been slow to change; it is only in the 20th century that we began to see the democratisation of gardening and the engagement, across class, of individuals interested in developing their own gardens.   Visiting other people’s gardens is a sure-fast way of finding creative ideas for your own garden (or window-box); visiting local gardens is the best way of finding plants that will thrive in your neighbourhood.  No longer do we need to trek to Chatsworth or Hampton Court for inspiration; there are 3,850 local gardens open across the UK.

The National Garden Scheme was launched in 1927 with the simple but radical idea of asking individuals with interesting gardens to open their gates to the public for one day of the year.   For a shilling a head, the gardens were initially opened in support of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, and, with the advent of the NHS, the scheme continued to raise substantial funds for charities which now include, amongst its chief beneficiaries, Marie Curie and Macmillan Cancer Support.

open gardens schemeIn the Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate area alone there are eleven wonderful gardens to visit, and at least thirty other gardens to explore within a 5 mile radius.   If you are looking for ideas for a shady garden, make sure to visit Sue Whittington’s secret garden at Southwood Lodge, with its topiarised self-seeded yew and rolling hedges of various box shapes.  For sheer theatrical spectacle, visit 5 Regis Close,  an artists’ garden renowned for its unique architectural features:  including a Baroque temple, pagodas, and an oriental raku-tiled mirrored wall.  No wonder this is Maureen Lipman’s favourite garden, combining colour, humour and trompe l’oeil effects with wildlife-friendly ponds, waterfalls, weeping willow and lawns. If, however, you are a lover of antipodean sub-tropical plants and dramatic foliage, don’t miss the chance to visit 11 Park Avenue North, with its exotic planting threaded through an old orchard and rose garden.  Spiky foliage dominates, with the focus on palms, agaves, dasylirions, aeoniums, tree ferns, nolinas, cycads, cacti and sensational flowering aloes.

ceramic studioMany gardeners are keen propagators and sell their excess plants for charity, which is another strong inducement to visit (for mega plant sale and ceramics studio visit St Regis Close), and over half the open gardens nationwide offer the irresistible incentive of tea and home-made cake.    Many gardens are wheelchair accessible; a significant number welcome dogs on leads with responsible owners; and most NGS gardens now admit children under 16 for free.    Faced with this cornucopia of choice, you are only confronted with one problem:  how many garden visits can you fit into your diary this coming year?  Visit www.ngs.org.uk and start planning now!

Joan Scanlon

Town Gardens & SpaceLift Garden Design

www.towngardens.co.uk & www.spacelift.uk.com 

Tel: 07721 496 367

national gardens schemeThe NGS area always looking for new and interesting gardens, so if you live in the Harringey area, and you are interested in entering your garden for the scheme, your local coordinator would be delighted to hear from you: [email protected]

Gardens open in the Harringey area:

Sunday 28th April:   

3 The Park, N6 4EU

5 St Regis Close N10 2DE

Sunday 5th May:

2 Millfield Place, N6 6JP

Southwood Lodge, N6 5EA

Sunday 19th May:        

Princess Avenue Gardens, N10 3LS

Sunday 2nd June:

Southwood Lodge, N6 5EA

Sunday 16th June:      

60 Church Crescent, N10 3NE

3 The Park, N6 4EU

11 Park Avenue North, N8 7RU

Wednesday 19th June:    

2 Millfield Place, N6 6JP

Sunday 23rd June: 

5 Cecil Road, N10 2BU

5 St Regis Close, N10 2DE

Sunday 14th July:    

27 Wood Vale, N10 3DJ

33 Wood Vale, N10 3DJ

66 Muswell Avenue, N10 2EL

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