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14 stunning open gardens in Bucks & Oxon

Fancy a snoop at someone else's dahlias? Then spend the day at one of these gorgeous secret green spaces in Bucks & Oxon, usually hidden away from the public.

The National Garden Scheme sees over 3,500 private gardens in England and Wales open for charity – adults pay around £4 with the proceeds going to worthy charities, while children go free. Great for this time of year when you’ve run out of inspiration with the kids and want them in beautiful spaces outdoors and out of your hair (‘run ahead as far as you like darling!’) or you’re after some in-situ clever border design ideas for just a few quid .

Here are some of our favourite secret gardens in Bucks & Oxon to start you off on your Frances Hodgson Burnett odyssey. Please check for any changes to dates and times before you set off – this is post-Covid, things can change in an instant!

OXFORDSHIRE

Nether Winchendon House, Thame – Sun 29 Aug

On the Bucks/ Oxon border, this Grade I listed Medieval and Tudor House is a popular wedding venue and it’s easy to see why – the location oozes romance with its 600 acres of stunning parkland, collection of rare trees and seven acres of perfectly manicured grounds running down to the Thames. Dig out your wedding dress and go for a ramble (kidding).

Pre-booking available but not essential. Adult tickets £4, children go FREE.

Christ Church Masters’, Pocock & Cathedral Gardens, Oxford – 4 Sept

A rare opportunity to see these three stunning walled gardens in central Oxford, home to the winding Pocock Tree, said to be the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem The Jabberwocky.

Pre-booking essential. Adult tickets £5, children go FREE.

Making a day of it? See our Oxford insider guide for more cool things to do and see in the city.

Bolters Farm & Kings Cottage, Chilson, Chipping Norton – 4 Sept

It’s taken 14 years to restore the old cottage garden at Cotswolds bolthole Bolters Farm and it’s still a work in progress with a new grassy border and pretty Cotswold stone wall built over lockdown. Highlights include weeping willows, a sunken garden, art studio complete with a small Italianate terrace, as well as charming original features from the farm orchard like old gates (no climbing please!), tree trunks and dry stone walls. Head a little way down the lane to Kings Cottage – a row of 17th century cottages converted into a single home – to see the original cottage gardens with mature yew hedges (pictured). A single ticket will give you entry to both sites.

Pre-booking not essential. Adult tickets £6, children go FREE.

113 Brize Norton Road, Minster Lovell – 5 Sept

Big on the quirk factor – look out for the elephant sculpture and gilded garden gates – this one acre site has been developed to encourage local wildlife with a meadow grass area, small woodland, native mixed hedging, wildlife pond and fish pond. Homemade teas available on-site.

Pre-booking available but not essential. Adult tickets £3, children go FREE.

Ashbrook House, Blewbury – 5 Sept

Keep your eyes peeled for Toad et al from Wind in the Willows at this enchanting 3½ acre chalk and water garden, where Kenneth Grahame sought inspiration for his beloved book. The garden includes many interesting features but must-sees include the bog garden (prettier than it sounds), fruit orchard, veggie garden, glass house and small lake home to trout, ducks and moorhens.

Broughton Grange, Broughton, Banbury – 12 Sept

Created by British landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith in 2001, the centrepiece of this 25 acre site is a stunning walled garden that’s straight from the pages of a design magazine – think vibrant herbaceous borders, a mix of formal and wild areas, all set to the backdrop of the beautiful Oxfordshire valleys. There’s also the addition of a newly laid arboretum – not much to see yet but watch this space. Cream teas available on site.

Adult tickets £9, children go FREE.

Waterperry Gardens, Wheatley – 19 Sept

Virgin’s Walk

Just seven miles from Oxford city centre is this eight acre site featuring ornamental gardens, a plant centre, gallery, museum, tea shop and amphitheatre (you’ll get to see Cosmic Choir on the day, tickets included with the entry price). Head to the Virgin’s Walk to see the herbaceous borders – they’re in full boom right now and seriously stunning – or to the Mary Rose Garden for a collection of both modern and older blooms. Don’t leave without a bottle of Waterperry’s award-winning apple juice, handpicked and pressed on-site.

Pre-booking available but not essential. Adult tickets £8.95, children go FREE.

Old Whitehill Barn, Tackley, Kidlington – 19 Spet

A quintessential one acre English country garden set around a stone barn conversion. Explore the walled courtyard (on a warm day it’s a sun trap) as well as the orchard and vegetable garden. Home-made teas too – hallelujah!

Pre-booking available but not essential. Adult tickets £4, children go FREE.

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

Ascott, Leighton Buzzard – Mon 30 Aug

See some serious hedge trimming skills (and sweeping views of the Chilterns) at this 30 acre garden surrounding superb Jacobean Ascott House (closed on NGS days). Designed by Sir Harry Veitch (green fingered fact: he was instrumental in establishing London’s Chelsea Flower Show), the topiary includes an impressive evergreen sundial with a yew gnomon reading the inscription ‘Light and shade by turn, but love always’ (pictured). Also mark your card for the Venus fountain with its Thomas Waldo Story sculpture depicting the birth of Aphrodite. Light refreshments will be on offer too.

Pre-booking essential. Adult tickets £6, child tickets £3.

Orchard House, Coleshill, Amersham – Fri 3 Sept

Ever wondered British wildlife staycations? At this five acre garden in Bucks! The gardens feature eco ‘big hotels’, as well as two ponds, large avenues of silver birches, a bog garden and dramatic wildflower meadow, currently in bloom. Admission includes tea and coffee.

Adult tickets £6, children go FREE.

Overstroud Cottage, Great Missenden – Sun 5 Sept

This pretty cottage with blue and white artistic chalk garden is straight out of a Beatrix Potter book with its rambling roses, potager and lily pond. Tick off the impressive list of plants as you spot them – auriculas, hellebores, bulbs, pulmonarias, peonies, geraniums, dahlias, herbs – and if all tat plant-watching makes you hungry, head to the local parish church for cream teas afterwards.

Pre-booking available but not essential. Adult tickets £4, children go FREE.

Lindengate, Wendover – Sun 12 Sept

Created by Lindengate Mental Health Charity six years ago as a safe space to think and reflect, these five acres are now a happy balance of wild spaces and mature formal gardens. Home grown produce and crafts are available to buy on site.

Pre-booking available but not essential. Adult tickets £4, children go FREE.

Acer Corner, Wendover – Sat 25 Sept

Always wanted to go to Japan? Here’s the next best thing: this verdant garden features a large collection of Japanese maples with many acers (clue’s in the name) and roses. Homemade teas available.

Pre-booking available but not essential. Adult tickets £3.50, children go FREE.

The National Garden Scheme

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