Private gardens open their gates for charity

Kevin Hilditch, craftsman gardener, at The Swiss Garden, Old Warden.
Kevin Hilditch, craftsman gardener, at The Swiss Garden, Old Warden.

Owners of private gardens across the country will be opening their gates this year to help raise millions for charities.

Beautiful outdoor spaces across Bedfordshire, from small town spaces to country gardens, will be welcoming visitors to admire their designs.

Although the scheme started earlier in the spring, the season gets into full swing on the weekend of June 6 and 7 for the national open gardens weekend festival.

Among a number joining the festival openings is Southill Park, home of Mr and Mrs Charles Whitbread, who open their gates on Sunday, June 7, from 2pm until 5pm.

The large gardens feature parkland designed by ‘Capability’ Brown in 1777, a large conservatory, mature trees, rose garden and much more to see.

Cream teas will be available. Admission is £4 for adults, with children admitted free.

Later in June, Speeds Dairy Farmhouse at Beadlow opens where visitors can admire a recently landscaped back garden with gravel path meandering through borders and leading to a vegetable garden.

The garden opens on Sunday, June 21, from 2pm until 5.30pm. Admission is £4 for adults, children free.

The enchanting Swiss Garden at Old Warden opens on Saturday, June 13 where you can admire the design created for Lord Ongley in the early 19th century, and reopened last year after a major restoration. Serpentine paths lead to cleverly contrived vistas, focusing on the thatched Swiss Cottage.

Admission is £8 for adults, children admitted free, and the garden is open from 9.30am until 5pm.

The Firs, at 33 Bedford Road, Sandy, opens on Sunday, June 28, and 8 Great North Road, Chawston on July 18 and 19.

You can find full details of all gardens at

In 2014 the NGS raised £2.5m and made donations to Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Carers Trust, Hospices UK, The Queen’s Nursing Institute, Perennial, National Trust and Parkinson’s UK.

>> Shortmead House, Shortmead Lane, Biggleswade, SG18 0FG is also opening the gates on Sunday, June 7 from 2pm until 5pm, although not part of the NGS, and proceeds go to the Friends of Shortmead.

Villagers in Beeston will open 10 gardens on Sunday, June 14, 2pm until 6pm. Entry is £3 per adult, with accompanied under 13s free.

Refreshments will be served all afternoon at 16 The Green, with a plant stall outside 19 The Green. Visit