Many people might associate the NGS (National Gardens Scheme) with hazy summer days, overflowing borders and cream teas under a parasol on the lawn. Not quite so, and the NGS, as well as raising millions of pounds for British care charities in fact promotes gardens open throughout the year.
DAFFODILS AT DACHS, WEST SUSSEX
With daffodils blooming everywhere, last Sunday showed promise with bright weather and the opportunity to see drifts of yellow in some private gardens. Our first visit was to Dachs in West Sussex. Boasting over 200 species of daffodils and narcissi with bog garden, stream and themed beds and fuelled with the idea of home made teas, we set off with anticipation.
A great number of cars greeted us at Ashington and with overwhelmed parking wardens looking on helplessly, vehicles were being abandoned on verges in the excitement of the only garden in West Sussex being open.
Dachs was virtually over-run with people trampling everywhere. The 200 species of daffodils were planted in clumps, helpfully labelled to enable visitors to note the many varieties. Being a pernickety sort of gardener, I couldn’t help but wonder why there were so many needing dead-heading and I was twitching to do the task myself! I’m sure the garden matures nicely as the summer progresses but in early April there really was not much else to see. I hope their lawns recover from the footfall – it was really quite muddy in places where the grass had been trodden down.
THE CHALET, SURREY NGS
Onwards towards Surrey to The Chalet, slightly inappropriately named since the house is in fact an imposing Victorian residence. Described in the NGS yellow book as having 55 acres with thousands of daffodils in addition to lakes & formal garden, we had high hopes. With The Chalet, you can set aside any ideals of a quiet afternoon in a genteel, quintessential English Country Garden. Here instead was a full-blown party. A birds of prey display, singers, entertainers and an ice-cream van added to the surreal presence of a helicopter taking centre stage on the former lawn – now a private golf course. We loved the daffodils, however; great drifts of them having naturalised over the years and they really were spectacular and well worth the journey.
The NGS yellow book is available in Waterstones and most bookshops. Additionally their website is a mine of useful information and with private gardens open every weekend now until the autumn, there are certainly plenty to see.