Visit and be inspired by Britain's glorious gardens, in all their different forms.

This is the time of year when Britain’s gardens really start to bloom, so why not gather up some friends and get outdoors to take a look at what our green-fingered nation has been up to? There will be all sorts of gardens to visit in your area, whether it be a much beloved allotment, the country garden of an impassioned amateur, a community garden project or the hi-tech design of a greenfingered professional. These useful websites should see you strolling the lawns and smelling the flowers of Great Britain’s gardens in no time.


If you want to walk in acres of beautiful grounds or parks, then the National Trust site should be your first port of call. Search for National Trust gardens in your area and you could find yourself enjoying a picnic in surroundings landscaped by Capability Brown, exploring sub-tropical gardens in Cornwall or walking through drifts of bluebells in ancient woodland.


Across the country owners are flinging open their garden gates and welcoming in the public under the recognisable banner of the National Garden Scheme. The famous NGS yellow book lists all the gardens that will be open throughout the year (most are only open for one or two weekends) and provides a great way to spent a sunday afternoon, while having an indulgent snoop around other people’s gardens; and all in the name of charity. Plus, there is usually a nice cup of tea and cake for sale at the end.


This is an online directory of British gardens open to the public. Kew, Heligan, Hampton Court, Sissinghurst; all the greats are here. Each garden is given a page offering crucial information on opening times (no-one wants to rock up to a ‘closed’ sign), links to the website and even giving a list of places to stay nearby. An essential reference site for garden enthusiasts planning a weekend away.


Alasdair Sawday’s vast directory of beautiful B & Bs has an entire section devoted to guesthouses all boasting gardens of particular note. Not only will you be well looked after (always a given with Sawdays), but there will be a fabulous garden to explore and, with any luck, you should be able to enjoy a good chat with its chief custodian as you go. Each B&B listing on the site includes pictures and a good description of the garden, so you should be able to find one that you will really love.


The weekend 9-10 June 2012 will see many of London’s squares and gardens thrown open to the public. Buy a weekend ticket and gain access to private gardens, allotments and community gardens, many of which are spaces that you would not normally be able to see. Visit the site to find out about booking tickets, maps, guided walks and more.


The big date on the gardening calender, running from 22-26 May 2012, is the Chelsea Flower Show. Limited tickets are still available through the site, but you may have to be quick (or very wily) to get your hands on one. All of the Great and the Good from the horticultural world will be in attendance, with show gardens displaying the latest innovations in design and cultivation. A terrific place for inspiration.


For those of you who can’t get tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show, don’t panic, as the Chelsea Fringe will probably be even more fun. A series of events celebrating the art of gardening will run from 19th May to 10th June “exploding out of the (Chelsea) showground geographically, demographically and conceptually”. Expect all sorts of weird, wonderful and inspiring events, such as the Floating Gardens project, the Secret Garden project and more.


National Allotment Week offers an opportunity for those with a plot to show off the results of all their time and hard work, while visitors can buy surplus produce and learn about the benefits of working the land. Running from 8-14 Aug 2012, click on the events section to find out whether anything is happening in your region.

11 April 2012