Odiham District

Garden visits - Pam's corner

Some of you will have been on outings with the Garden Appreciation Group. This year I cannot run the group in the same way since I now have health problems which limit me. So Gill Harden (Groups coordinator) suggested I run this space instead. Each month I will put details of a few local gardens that you might like to visit.

Please see my instructions on how to search for NGS gardens.

Happy visiting, Pam Forey.

May - garden visiting moves up a gear

May is the month when the National Garden Scheme shifts into high gear. May, June and July are THE months for garden visiting.

Vann is an intriguing garden south of Godalming with a long history, partially designed by Gertrude Jekyll. It has its own website and opens in May, June and July; in the first week in May for the NGS.

Its down side is that it doesn’t usually serve refreshments, although it says it does sometimes on the website, and to check with them before you go! And you can picnic in the car park field. For me, tea and cake is an essential part of the garden visiting experience. But I might make an exception for Vann! 

For those of you planning to go to Chelsea Flower Show this year, the NGS are having a show garden for the first time ever, designed by  multiple gold medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith and Crocus, so make sure you don’t miss it. We wish them luck. The garden will be recreated as Maggie’s Garden at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, after Chelsea. 

And a variety of plants selected for this Chelsea garden will be on sale at another NGS garden, Chilworth Manor, which is south east of Guildford, on June 1st. You have to book for this event. And it does not show up on the regular NGS Find a Garden section. Instead on the NGS home page choose News and More, then our Chelsea Garden. Then choose our Chelsea Plant Sale to book tickets. Chilworth is worth visiting for the garden alone, but add this plant sale from Chelsea…. Sounds good. 

And if I had to pick a third NGS garden I might choose Twin Oaks, a stunning water garden in Chandlers Ford. If you didn’t come with us last year, don’t miss it this year. We went in August but it would be fascinating to see it earlier in the year. A little gem hidden behind what looks like an ordinary bungalow in a suburban road, but ‘Wow’ when you go round into the back. One of our members said it was the best garden ever. 

(Vann garden)

It’s Spring. Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Magnolias. Daffodils, bluebells.

As I am writing this, the fine Magnolia in the Odiham High Street is in bud, and will be in full bloom I hope when you read it.

Many of you will have been to Nymans, a magnificent National Trust garden in Horsham.

But you may not know about Leonardslee, a Grade 1 listed, romantic woodland and lake garden, near Nymans. This is the time of year to visit, with many rhododendrons and azaleas in flower, as in their Victorian rock garden, pictured to the left.

Leonardslee has an interesting history, an historic garden from the 1800s, and open to the public for many years, it was closed in 2010 and neglected before being bought by the present owners and restored, opening to the public again in 2019. It has been on my wish list since then.

This is probably a day trip, over an hour’s drive from Odiham. But you could combine it with a visit to Nymans. Or to High Beeches, another lesser known woodland and lake garden near Nymans, with many rare trees and rhododendrons. All three gardens have websites.

On a different note, Losely Park is much closer, just outside Godalming, and they have a Spring plant fair in April, Friday 19th to Sunday 21st April, set in their famous walled garden. Over 40 plant and food stalls. Always interesting plants for sale. And a chance to see the Losely gardens in spring before they open for their season. Details are on the Losely Park website.

Daffodils & Rhododendrons

March is not a month you usually associate with garden visiting and there are few gardens open at this time of year in the NGS scheme. But one local NGS garden begins its open season on March 20th. This is Beechenwood Farm, off the Farnham Road, near Roke Farm.

It is unusual since it opens on Wednesdays (most NGS gardens open at weekends) early in the year, every week till May 22nd, also on the two bank holidays in May.

It has been opening for the NGS for 40 years, a two-acre garden which you may well have visited, but it would be interesting to go each week to see the succession of the spring and early summer flowers, in the woodland garden and borders. Details on the NGS website.

Ramster Garden, near Chiddingfold, is a bit further afield, about 40 minutes drive from Odiham. It has been on my wants list for some time. This is a large, 25 acres, garden famous for its ‘stunning spring colour’ according to the website. It opens for the season on March 23rd and you can find lots of information on the Ramster Garden website.

In March there are carpets of daffodils, early flowering Camellias and Rhododendrons. The Rhododendron and Magnolia display continues into May, daffodils give way to bluebells, and the gardens stay open till the autumn.

Also worth noting is their Spring Plant Fair on April 28th. If you’ve not been to a plant fair, they can be fascinating and a chance to pick up plants not available at your regular garden centre. They feature local nurseries and growers, and many of the plants in my garden have been acquired at plant fairs. I’ll be highlighting local ones as they come up. They also have a Tea House.

It's February, and this month it's snowdrop gardens

Welford Park is a well-loved garden you may have already visited but it is always worth another go.

It is near Newbury, only open at this time of year for its hundreds (thousands?) of snowdrops—as shown in the photo on the left. Find details of open days and times on the Welford Park website.

Little Court, near Winchester, is a garden we visited in August 2022, in the midst of a drought. It is famous for its crocuses and snowdrops in February. Open days and times are on the National Garden Scheme (NGS) website. You can prebook but you don’t have to.

Timber Hill, in Chobham, is another NGS garden, but this needs to be pre-booked. Same procedure, on the NGS website, find the garden, once in, hit the pre-book button. People who went last year said it was well worth going.

Finally Chawton House, of Jane Austen fame. Chawton also has a garden, with snowdrops at this time of year. Go to the Chawton House website to book a visit.

And if you drive to Fleet in February it is worth going by the scenic route to pass Winchfield Church. The verge there is covered with snowdrops.