Cake anyone? NGS unveils its Cumbrian gardens for 2015

National Garden Scheme Cumbria guide 2015
The National Garden Scheme’s 2015 guide for Cumbria

If you’re a keen gardener, you may already have come across the National Garden Scheme’s (NGS) Yellow Book or even visited some of the many gardens that open each year across the UK to raise money for charity. It was great to see the 2015 Cumbria NGS guide appear in leaflet racks across the county a short while ago, and judging by the number of listings inside, it looks like a good year for the area. Let’s hope the weather doesn’t let us down, although I have been known to enjoy an open garden even in the pouring rain!

So what sort of gardens have we got in Cumbria? Probably a much broader range than you would think. The guide is full of both privately owned plots – ranging from the small-but-perfectly-formed to the enormous – and gardens which are either charitably or commercially owned.

Also interesting, are the extremes we have across the county. For instance, Yewbarrow House in Grange-over-Sands, opening four times this year, has the most amazing microclimate, which as its own website says means conditions for growing are ‘closer to Cornwall than Cumbria’. The garden is 4 1/2 acres altogether, of which half is woodland, and last time I visited, which was in September 2013, I was particularly taken aback by the hot Mediterranean colours and stunning amount of growth within the Italian garden. There are a number of features to visit here including an orangery, kitchen garden and Japanese area with stunning views across Morecambe Bay. There is also the ‘Prospect Tower‘, a fun castle-like structure with stone steps spiralling around its exterior, and unique views all of its own from the top.

What makes many NGS open days so special is the amount of effort put in by garden owners, and sometimes their friends, neighbours and local community too. But this is not only to make sure everything is looking pristine and beautiful on the day. Plant stalls usually mean you can take little pieces of the garden back with you, and often there are refreshments too, which have clearly taken a great deal of time and care to prepare. I’ve experienced some absolutely beautiful baking at these events. Go on, you’ve earned it…

It’s true that by spending some time away from your own patch you can find lots of inspiration to take back with you. You may even have a few laughs along the way courtesy of the occasional silly garden sign. One in particular sticks in my mind, even though I saw it some time ago. It read: ‘Grow your own dope. Plant a man’. Well that’s 50% of my readers raising their eyebrows at the screen…

If you’re planning a stay or day out in the Lakes, why not get hold of a copy of the Cumbria NGS guide and see what’s on while you’re here? These distinctive little booklets are available on tourist information stands throughout the area (e.g. in supermarkets) but alternatively, all the listings are also searchable by location or postcode at

One Comment

  1. Another good source of open gardens is the Red Cross guide, which has a search facility online:

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