There’s a bumper crop of Open Gardens taking place across Cambridgeshire this month. Alex Fice does some digging to unearth the region’s finest
We often think of our back garden as a private haven: the perfect spot for a bit of peace and quiet. Heaven forbid hordes of strangers should wander in and start analysing the flower beds! And yet, every year, hospitable horticulturists across the UK fling the gates wide, and open their backyards to the public, offering up tea, cakes, sandwiches and pearls of wisdom – all in the name of charitable giving and community goodwill.
Open Gardens give budding growers the chance to explore the neighbour’s patch, harvesting tips and ideas for their own planting projects, or simply enjoying the fruits of other people’s labours. They’re typically organised by a committee of enthusiastic volunteers, and help raise funds for charities or local initiatives. Above all, they provide opportunities for encounters between like-minded hobbyists, drawn together by a love for nature and gardening.
“It is such a joy to be involved in this great event,” says Buckden Open Gardens organiser, Priscilla Gardiner. “I get such pleasure from my garden, and as a result of my first encounter with our village’s Open Gardens, I was encouraged to join the local club – it’s a wonderful way to make new friends.”
For Fiona Rose, part of the organising committee for Ickleton’s Open Gardens and opening her own to the public for the third time this year, it can be extremely rewarding for those who decide to host. “I opened my garden for the first time in 2016 and it was such a wonderful experience. It’s lovely to see your property through somebody else’s eyes.”
Far from seeking to showcase only the most accomplished enclosures, Open Gardens aims to inspire people to get the most out of their space, regardless of its size or maturity. “We’re not looking for a Chelsea Flower Show garden!” says Fiona. “We want to show regular people that you can make something of anything that you have. However big or small – and whatever the limitations – you can always create something that’s both beautiful and helpful to nature.
“We’re hoping this year, especially with things really opening up for the first time, people will be keen to come and see what’s out there and all the things they’ve missed during the pandemic. And we know that people did focus a lot more on their homes and gardens over lockdown, so there is even more of a renewed interest.”
There are multiple Open Gardens taking place around Cambridgeshire throughout June, which are listed in full at opengardens.co.uk. Or you can check out our very own handy directory to help identify your nearest event!
Open Gardens Directory
Broughton Open Gardens and Flower Festival Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June, 11am-6pm
Discover the gorgeous gardens of Broughton, an idyllic, unspoilt village six miles north of Huntingdon. There will be around 12 gardens open to the public, a flower festival, an art exhibition and classic cars on the village green, plus cream teas and homemade cake.
Tickets cost £5, available at the church. The proceeds will go towards All Saints Restoration Fund.
Buckden Saturday 18 June, 11am-6pm
The historic village of Buckden is full of horticultural and historic delights. Visitors will have the chance to visit 15 gardens, including a beautiful Tudor knot garden at Buckden Towers, where Catherine of Aragon was kept, prior to her death in nearby Kimbolton. There will also be a Family Fun Day at St Mary’s Church, with a hearty spread of refreshments.
Tickets cost £5, available from St Mary’s Church and any participating garden. The proceeds will go towards the upkeep of
St Mary’s Church and Godmanchester Food Bank.
Godmanchester Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 June, 1.30-5.30pm
The historic riverside village of Godmanchester will have 20 gardens of different sizes and maturity to explore, with several offering refreshments for a small additional cost. A children’s trail is also running.
Tickets cost £5, available from any participating garden or on the village green. The proceeds will go towards Godmanchester in Bloom projects.
Histon and Impington Sunday 12 June, 12-6pm
Just north of Cambridge, the villages of Histon and Impington are joining forces for their first Open Gardens event since before lockdown. With 17 to delve into, there’s plenty of inspiration for the green-thumbed – from secluded spaces with water features, to plots influenced by Japanese, Mediterranean and South African planting. Young children can look forward to meeting the Cambridge Cats and running around a barefoot maze. Tea, coffee and cake will be on offer, as well as live musical entertainment by local artists.
Tickets cost £6, available on the village green or from any participating garden. Proceeds go towards East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, HI Friends, Shepreth Hedgehog Hospital and Histon & Impington Feast.
Ickleton Sunday 19 June, 11am-5pm
Venture beyond Ickleton’s high flint walls and discover the sumptuous gardens that lie beyond. Around 20 will be open, including the manor house gardens, with a ploughman’s lunch, tea and homemade cakes on offer throughout the day. There will be a beekeeping demonstration, willow weaving, plant sale and treasure trail for the children.
Tickets cost £6, available at the village hall on Frogge Street. The proceeds will go towards the Village Hall Repair Fund, as well as the charities Motor Neurone Disease Association and YoungMinds.
Somersham Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June, 1.30-5.30pm
Somersham’s biennial event returns, with 12 gardens open to the public and music from the Somersham Town Band on the Saturday. Tickets include a free cup of tea on the lawns of The Limes, and there will be plenty of cake and tea on sale, too. A variety of plants can be purchased from selected gardens.
Tickets cost £5, available at The Cross on the High Street from 1.15pm. The proceeds will go towards local community groups.
Steeple Morden Sunday 19 June, 2-5pm
Located between Royston and Baldock, this charming village is home to many enthusiastic gardeners, offering ideas on how to spruce up your plot. There will be 12 in total open to visitors, with refreshments served over at the Village Hall in the afternoon.
Tickets cost £5, available from the Village Hall or any of the gardens. The proceeds will go towards Village Hall improvements.