One of my most useful garden books has only a handful of pictures, and the print is small – sounds like a boring tome; not a bit of it! It’s lovingly known as The Yellow Book, and it’s the key to secret gardens in England and the modest entry fees go to support a variety of cancer related charities.
The Chelsea Flower Show might be one way to feast your eyes on the newest must-have plants, but I feel the best way to be inspired for your own garden is to look and see what other people can achieve.
So when I am asked by a new gardener ‘what shall I plant?’ I tend to march them up and down their street to see what’s going on with the next-doors, and the next-doors next doors. The soil up and down the street will be much the same as yours, the effects of wind, sun and frost will be much the same, and it’s an excellent way to focus the mind on what you like and what you don’t
You could consider the 3,700 gardens within this year’s Yellow Book as garden research on an epic scale!. This magic guide’s proper title is The National Gardens Scheme – Gardens Open for Charity, but I will continue to call it by its pet name.
This is how it works.
The entire country is divided up into county areas, from chic urban gardens, to allotments, small cottage gardens and rolling country estates there is something for everyone’s particular taste or fancy.
So if you happen to be at a loose end on a particular day, you can find a garden whose gate is open for you to walk around, admire, ask questions of the owner and perhaps even buy a plant or two. And, the best bit is that most will offer you a cup of tea and a delicious piece of cake!.
The Yellow Book gives you all you need to find each plant haven – the name of the garden owner, full address, useful directions, telephone number if you get lost, and a brief description of what you can expect to see –there is no chance that you will be disappointed.
In the last 10 years the National Gardens Scheme collected a staggering £25m, so garden visiting is without doubt a popular pastime. You can buy this book at any good bookstore or online at www.ngs.org.uk for £7.
© 2014 Valerie McBride-Munro.