National Garden Scheme, Kent
Enjoy an exclusive garden visit with the National Garden Scheme’s wonderful By Arrangement option.
The National Garden Scheme opens over 3,500 private gardens to the public each year, with over 100 opening across Kent. Most visitors are familiar with the gardens that open their gates to everyone on set days, but in 2023, 36 Kent gardens will also be open By Arrangement.
These wonderful, often hidden gems are really worth exploring especially if you are keen to return to a garden you love, perhaps missed a public open day or simply want to explore somewhere completely uncharted. By Arrangement gardens cater for different group sizes from as few as one to 20+ – it all depends on the size and accessibility of the garden. Some have fixed prices for entry, while others are agreed in discussion with the garden owner.
‘Booking a By Arrangement garden visit with the National Garden Scheme was a joy. I spoke directly with the garden owner to arrange a time that suited us both and was able to treat mum, family and friends to a really special day out in a garden open just for us!’ Garden visitor.
A few questions answered about By Arrangement gardens …
What is a By Arrangement garden?
A garden open By Arrangement accepts visitors to their garden for a more personalised visit, on a pre-agreed date. Usually, the garden will advertise a range of dates available that they are willing to open so that visitors can decide on the most suitable option for them. This can often be a wide date range. For example, Haven near Ramsgate opens from February to November for one to 99 people, so there are plenty of opportunities to find a date to suit you and your group or family and friends.
What are the benefits of booking a visit in advance?
Booking a By Arrangement garden gives you direct contact with the garden owner, allowing you to liaise on everything from convenient times and dates, to what you’ll see and do once you’re there.
Why choose By Arrangement?
Did you miss an open day, or perhaps you would like to bring your family back for a special occasion? Contact any garden offering By Arrangement visits to discuss options. If one or two of you want to visit a garden that only takes larger groups, it’s always worth contacting the owner to see if there’s room to join another pre-booked group.
Booking your Kent By Arrangement visit
Kent gardens opening in 2023 are available to view at www.ngs.org.uk/kent-by-arrangement/ . On the garden information page you will find the garden owner’s contact details. They are waiting to hear from you and will be delighted to help you create the perfect visit. The garden owner will confirm all the details and whether they require a deposit/full payment ahead of the visit.
The full list is also in the front of the county booklet, which is available to pick up for free at garden centres, libraries, tourist offices and local shops. As with all garden visits organised through the National Garden Scheme, By Arrangement visits support our nursing and health beneficiaries.
Below is just a selection of those that are open By Arrangement in Kent this year. For the full list, please visit https://ngs.org.uk/kent-by-arrangement/
Arnold Yoke features on the cover of this year’s Kent county booklet. The garden is a ½-acre ‘room’ with a paradise garden and pond in the middle. Around the periphery you’ll find profusely planted borders on the south and west sides, a collection of small trees, a small ‘white’ border, a hydrangea border and a rock garden. A long yew hedge divides the garden, interspersed with conical hornbeams, which separates a small orchard from the main part of the garden.
Arnold Yoke, Back Street, Leeds, Maidstone, ME17 1TF
Open By Arrangement: June and July, for groups of between 10 and 20.
Accessibility: Wheelchair access from the car park and around most parts of the garden.
Refreshments: Homemade teas
Admission: Adult: £10.00 Child: Free
Badgers is only open By Arrangement. In August and September, the tropical garden is in full growth with a wide variety of palms, bananas, gingers and dahlias growing along a network of paths, where you can immerse yourself in the Tropics. There is also a walled Italian-style garden, a small Japanese area, a woodland with ponds and a waterfall to find within this wonderful 2-acre garden.
Badgers, Bokes Farm, Horns Hill, Hawkhurst, Cranbrook, TN18 4XG
Open By Arrangement: 21 August to 21 September, for groups of between 10 and 25.
Refreshments: Homemade teas
Admission: Adult: £5.00 Child: Free
Copper House is new to the National Garden Scheme and is a modern flower garden, with mixed planting of annuals, perennials, bulbs and shrubs. There is a small wildflower meadow and an orchard, along with small ponds to encourage wildlife.
The Copper House, Hinksden Road, Benenden, Cranbrook,TN17 4LE
Open By Arrangement: July to September, for groups of between 10 and 15.
Admission: Adult: £7.50 Child: Free
Gravesend Garden for Wildlife
Gravesend Garden for Wildlife featured on a wildlife special Gardeners’ World programme in September 2022, and shows what can be achieved in a town garden to attract a huge array of wildlife. High up on Windmill Hill with extensive views across the river Thames, this sunny garden has been evolving for 33 years. Borders are filled with a mix of trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses and wildflowers, all planted to attract bees and butterflies to the garden. Areas of longer grass in the lawn are home to grasshoppers and crickets, while the three ponds are visited by amphibians, dragonflies and birds.
Gravesend Garden for Wildlife, 68 South Hill Road, Windmill Hill, Gravesend, DA12 1JZ
Open By Arrangement: June to August, for groups of between 1 and 20.
Refreshments: Light refreshments
Due to steep steps and uneven paths, there is no wheelchair access to the garden.
Admission: Adult: £5.00 Child: Free
Pheasant Barn was a very worthy Regional Finalist for The English Garden’s The Nation’s Favourite Gardens in 2021, with its series of gardens around award-winning converted farm buildings in a beautiful situation overlooking Oare Creek. The main area is filled with nectar-rich planting in a formal design with a contemporary twist inspired by the local landscape. There is also a vegetable garden, a dry garden, water features, and a wonderful and large wildflower meadow that is at its peak in July, with meandering paths down towards the creek where you’ll find a small labyrinth.
Pheasant Barn, Church Road, Oare, ME13 0QB
Open By Arrangement: May to July, for groups of between 1 and 20.
Refreshments: Two village inns serving lunches/dinners, booking recommended.
Admission: Adult: £7.00 Child: Free
For a full list of By Arrangement gardens in Kent, please click here: https://ngs.org.uk/kent-by-arrangement/
Information about all the Kent open gardens in 2023 can be found here: www.ngs.org.uk/kent
About the National Garden Scheme
The National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique, affordable access to over 3,500 exceptional private gardens and raises impressive amounts of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas and cake.
Thanks to the generosity of garden owners, volunteers and visitors, we have donated over £65 million to nursing and health charities. Founded in 1927 to support district nurses, we are now the most significant charitable funder of nursing in the UK, and our beneficiaries include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK and The Queen’s Nursing Institute.
The National Garden Scheme doesn’t just open beautiful gardens for charity – we are passionate about the physical and mental health benefits of gardens too. We fund projects which promote gardens and gardening as therapy, and in 2017, we launched our annual Gardens and Health Week to raise awareness of the topic.
To find your perfect garden, visit ngs.org.uk, download the National Garden Scheme app or purchase the National Garden Scheme’s Garden Visitor’s Handbook, which is published annually and available via ngs.org.uk/shop and at all good book retailers.
Editor’s note: press release courtesy of Susie Challen, Kent Publicity, National Garden Scheme, Kent.