2011 NGS Open Gardens… our pick of the best Isle of Wight gardens

2011 NGS Open Gardens…  our pick of the best Isle of Wight gardens

Well obviously the Island boasts some stunning gardens open to the public throughout the year such as Osborne House, Mottistone Manor and Ventnor Botanic Gardens to name just three. But it is the lesser known private gardens that are often the most inspiring ones to visit. Such gardens are only open to the public once or twice a year normally through the NGS Open Gardens scheme. Here we have selected a few must visits this summer.

Northcourt Garden, Shorwell

Open: Sun 28 Aug (12.30-5pm) Visitors and groups of 8+ are also welcome by appointment.

This 15 acre garden surrounds a stunning large 17th Century Manor House which is not open to the public. The gardens include an organic walled kitchen garden, chalk stream, terraces, magnolias and camellias. The garden enjoys a very special microclimate nestled below the Downs between the chalk and greensand ridges.

This microclimate give the opportunity to grow around 4,000 different plant varieties from around the world from subtropical plantings of exotic palms and bananas to bog loving primulas, arums, and Mediterranean plants.

Late summer beds of dahlias, cannas, and grasses can also be seen. The garden rises 100ft behind the house with a collection of hydrangeas on the terraces leading to woodland walks. Admission is £4.50 per adult (children are free)?and homemade teas are available.

Thorley Manor, Yarmouth

Open: Sun 19 June (2.30-5pm).

Visit this delightful informal garden of over 3 acres surrounding the picturesque Manor House which is not open to the public. The garden is set out in a number of walled rooms including a herb garden with water feature, perennial borders, a sweeping lawn and shrub borders, plus an unusual Island croquet lawn.

This venue is renowned for its excellent homemade teas and the eccentric head gardener. Admission £3 per adult (children are free).

Rookley Manor, Rookley

Open: Sun 19 June (11-4m). Visitors are also welcome by appointment.

A beautiful, mature 1-acre garden surrounding a Georgian manor house (not open to the public). This romantic, well maintained garden has many old roses, rare plants and trees on display. Features include a pond and views out onto open fields. A real treat for plant lovers and people who appreciate relaxed, considered spaces with horticultural interest.

On the 19th visitors will also be able to enjoy an Art exhibition by artist Marius von Brasch and live music by harp with Anna Sacchini, in the garden. Admission £3.50 per adult (children are free).

Haddon Lake House, St Lawrence

Open: Guided tours only. Visitors are welcome by appointment on August evenings and Saturday afternoons for groups of 6-20. Children must be over 12years old.

This newly-restored Victorian garden dates from 1820, and was formerly part of the Old Park estate. A site of contrasts with contemporary borders juxtaposed with formal walled potager.

Major features include an 1/3-acre lake with gravity-fed fountain, gravelled perimeter path ?and Japanese influenced courtyard. Admission £5 per person.

Local secret

One gem not on the NGS but a must visit is Brook House Garden in Brook. Situated down a quiet private lane Brook House was once the manor of Brook mentioned in the Domesday survey. Though its current incarnation was completely rebuilt in the early 18th century and then remodelled again in 1854. The house’s present owners Geoff & Belinda Walters have lovingly restored the house and reunited all the main buildings to form a stunning home with beautiful gardens.

Set in approximately 3 acres, this established garden includes some classic English country beds and borders, an orchard, vegetable garden, and, as a key feature, an old sunken rose walk. The gardens will be open this year on Sunday 19th June 1-5pm (admission £3 per adult and under 12’s free) to raise funds for the Seeley Hall (a charity) in Brook.  Plant sales and homemade teas will be available in Seeley Hall while the garden is open.