UK's Open Gardens

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Like all the vitamins, we love getting fresh air. Particularly me, because I love running around.

Hundreds of child-friendly private gardens all over the country are open to the public from now until September to raise money for the British Red Cross.

With lots to choose from, they're great fun for all the family to visit – and a great cause to support.

Many offer child-friendly activities such as mazes, treasure hunts and other activities – all in beautiful surroundings. Choose from natural landscapes, small suburban gardens, quirky designs and historic properties; there's plenty of choice!

Entrance fees go directly towards supporting the work of the British Red Cross at home and overseas, but children go free at many venues.

Here's a selection of some of the vitamins' favourites but there's plenty more available at

The British Red Cross helps millions of people in the UK and around the world to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies, disasters and conflicts. Their volunteers and staff help people in crisis to live independently by providing support at home, mobility aids and transport. They also teach first aid skills.

Take tea in a Mongolian yurt

Wander through a naturalistic garden with 'earth' labyrinth, orchard, kitchen garden and goat paddock, then relax in a Mongolian yurt where tea will be served.

Michael's Folly, Henderson Place, Epping Green, near Little Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, SG13 8NE

Open: 20 Sept 2015; 2pm-5pm


Spot the feline theme in the child-friendly garden at Thornley House, starting with the large cat sign at the entrance. Real cats and ornamental animals - two giant Maine coons and a red Burmese – plus a pussy cat cemetery enhance the safari for youngsters. The garden includes an idyllic woodland, stream, pond, and many mixed plants and donkeys in the field.

Thornley House, Thornley Gate, HEXHAM, Northumberland, NE47

Open: 30 Aug 2015, 2pm-5pm


Maenan Gardens have become a great favourite with local people and holiday makers alike, since opening in spring and summer each year. Enjoy the magnificent magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas in May, and summer colours in August. Your little ones will enjoy a treasure hunt round the gardens - with a prize and a refreshing drink at the end.

Maenan Hall, Maenan, LLANRWST, Conwy, LL26 0UL

Open: 16 August, 10.30am-5.30pm


Discover this inspirational three-acre garden, set amid stunning countryside. It is one mile from the Tanfield steam railway. The gardens include ten imaginative themed gardens, built and designed by the present owners since 1978.

Birkheads Secret Garden, Near Hedley Hall Woods, Sunniside, GATESHEAD, Tyne & Wear, NE16 5EL


This is an historic, Grade II garden, set in university grounds that cover 25 acres. The garden boasts extensive lawns, mature trees, a lake, shrubberies and herb garden. There are also some glasshouse plants.

Thwaite Hall, Gardens University of Hull, Thwaite Street, Cottingham, East Yorkshire, HU16 4QX

Open: 2 August.

Open: 12 September 11am-4pm



Find the sub-tropics in Fareham, via this small garden at Birdwood Grove. Influenced by the flora of Australia and New Zealand, it includes many rare and unusual species. The four climate zones – arid, temperate, lush fertile and shady fernery – are all densely planted to make the most of the dramatic foliage. This is definitely a garden for those with a passion for weird and wonderful plants.

Address: 8 Birdwood Grove, FAREHAM, Hampshire, PO16 8AF


Barton Manor is a large award-winning garden, in the grounds of historic Barton Manor (former home of Queen Victoria). It is around ten acres in size, and its features include a large lake with huge fish, formal and informal beds, and some subtropical planting. There is also a hedge maze, Japanese garden, and the UK collection of red hot pokers.

Open: 29 August, 2.30pm-5pm


Wander around ten acres of peaceful gardens at Ingatestone Hall, which contain a nut walk, stew pond, walled garden and rare clock tower. Inside the Grade I-listed, 16th-century manor house, you can visit eight principal rooms for an extra fee. The rooms contain paintings, furniture and other Petre family memorabilia, amassed over the centuries.

Open: 16 August, 12pm-5pm


The surroundings of this historic house at Hutton in the Forest include a beautiful 18th-century walled garden, lake with cascade, topiary, and a woodland walk in the remains of Inglewood forest.

Open: 9 August