Get a taste for growing your own with the National Garden Scheme this season

Allotments, Kitchen Gardens and Community Gardens opening for the National Garden Scheme between now and October


“Imagine escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life and finding an oasis of tranquillity just around the corner
from your home. Growing fruit, vegetables and flowers on an allotment is not only a fantastic way of giving wildlife
a place  to live and feed, but will also keep you fit.”
From ‘Keeping An Allotment’ by Kevin Forbes


A plant-based diet is now acknowledged as a major contributor to a healthier life-style but there are other benefits besides eating more fruit and vegetables that can boost your health and well-being. Rather than popping down to the supermarket or ordering on-line, growing your own – organically if you can – brings with it benefits beyond the delicious fresh produce you can enjoy at your dining table.


“The physical creation and tending of your plot – whether it’s a patio container, a corner of your garden, an allotment or a full-blown kitchen garden – can help keep you fit and motivated, and inspire a great sense of optimism. And, if you get your planning and storage right, you can enjoy home-grown produce throughout the year,” says National Garden Scheme CEO, George Plumptre.


The National Garden Scheme has a wide-range of ‘grow your own’ gardens in its portfolio. Some, like the immaculately and professionally tended kitchen gardens at Fittleworth House in West Sussex and Pythouse Kitchen Garden in Wiltshire, are the thing of dreams. While the community gardens and the diverse and stunningly well-kept allotments that open throughout England and Wales, demonstrate a strong sense of social cohesion in addition to all the other benefits that growing your own creates.


“A sense of community is something common to allotments everywhere, they bring like-minded people together to literally learn and grow. There’s even an element of friendly competition which can spur you on even after the most irritating rabbit raid,” adds George Plumptre.


Paul Collingwood of the Willoughby Road Allotments in Boston Lincolnshire , which open for the National Garden Scheme this August, explains the huge impact the site has had. “Since forming an allotment association five years ago we have supported a number of projects in our local community. A giant pumpkin challenge raised £250 for our local hospital’s stroke ward and £70 for a hospice, and that doesn’t include the money raised for National Garden Scheme beneficiary charities.”


Now in their fourth year of opening for the National Garden Scheme the association always goes the extra mile, bringing together a wealth of talent and interests drawn from their allotment owners. “We always cook something special for our guests. In the first year it was courgette risotto with three different salads cut straight from the plots and last year we had an Indian chef plot holder who did Indian tapas. This year we have an art project in conjunction with Transported Art and the University of Lincoln and are hoping to have artwork installed throughout the allotments.”


There are even plans for an ‘Edible Academy’ installing a large poly tunnel to attract schools and community groups to help explore where food comes from, how to use food in the kitchen and to learn more about nature and the environment.


“We have a diverse community on the plots with people from Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, India, Sri Lanka and even Yorkshire! This all helps with social cohesion not only on the allotments but throughout the town as well. We absolutely love opening for the National Garden Scheme as it gives people who visit us a different perspective  of allotment gardening and the community spirit of our site, which is very strong here.”


Grange Fell Allotments in Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria, has, as its name suggests, an enviable position with glorious coastal views over Morecambe Bay. Managed by Bruno Gouillon, the 30 plots opened by the town council in 2010 have been carved out of a stone-filled field and now include a wide selection of gardening styles and techniques.


“The majority grow a mixture of vegetables, fruit trees and flowers,” explains Bruno. “There are also a few communal areas where local fruit tree varieties have been donated by plot holders and we have herbaceous borders and annuals too.”


Bruno’s father instilled in him a love of hard work and order, attributes he feels are important to a successful allotment, “Reaping rewards from an allotment can be hard work, there’s a lot of weeding and tending to be done, but the results are well worth it. Having freshly grown organic produce on the table throughout the year is fabulous.”


Organic produce from the plots will be on sale when the allotments at Grange Fell open on August 18 and, to celebrate their tenth anniversary there will be a special raffle and light refreshments with home-made cordials and plenty of cakes.


Further south at Randalls Allotments in Cobham the plots are buzzing with bees and butterflies. There are prize dahlia’s, sweet peas, roses and nasturtiums jostling for space among the artichokes (left to flower to the delight of the bees) beetroots, lettuces, beans, peas, potatoes, herbs, tomatoes, chilies and more!


“We have a range of nationalities on site growing some extraordinary produce,” says site manager and allotment holder Dave Burton.


One Iranian plot holder has introduced lots of new varieties and planting schemes while Carlo, Italian by birth, has a plot of produce that keeps him and his family in vegetables throughout the year. For others, it’s the sense of community that draws them in. A lady new to the area is now enjoying the shared knowledge of fellow plot holders and learning how to garden, while another, recently widowed, finds solace in the plot she once tended with her husband.


From prize-winning dahlia’s to delicious fresh produce and dollops of community spirit there are so many special places opening for the National Garden Scheme in the coming weeks all offering a wonderful taster of how to grow your own and life on the allotment. Here are some to enjoy:

Allotments (listed by date of opening)


Repton Allotments
Derbyshire, DE65 6FX

July 21, 13:30 – 17:30


Woodlands Road Allotments

Gillingham, Kent, ME7 2TN

July 27, 12:00 – 16:00

July 28, 12:00 – 16:00


Llanfechell Allotments

Amlwch, Anglesey, LL68 0PU

July 28, 10:00 – 16:00


Moss Park Allotments

Manchester, Lancashire, M32 9EE

July 28, 11:00 – 16:00


Erddig Allotments

Wrexham, Clwyd, LL13 7DT

August 04, 2019 14:00 – 17:00


Grange Fell Allotments

Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria, LA11 6HB

August 18, 11:30 – 16:30

Open by arrangement July – September


Willoughby Road Allotments

Boston, Lincolnshire, PE21 9HN

August 18, 10:30 – 16:00


Golf Course Allotments

London, N11 2AR

September 01, 13:00 – 16:30


Washbrook Allotments

Leicester, Leicestershire, LE2 6FP

September 01, 11:00 – 15:00


Randalls Allotments

Cobham, Surrey, KT11 1BY

September 08, 14:00 – 17:00


Sefton Park Allotments

Lancashire, L17 1AS

September 08, 12:00 – 17:00


Kitchen Gardens (listed by date of opening)


Titsey Place Gardens

Oxted, RH8 0SA
July 21 and August 18, 13:00-17:00


Old Bladbean Stud

Canterbury, CT4 6NA

July 21, August 04 and 18, 14:00-18:00


Broughton Grange

Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX15 5DS
July 28 and September 15, 10:00 – 17:00


Bickham House

Exeter, EX6 7XL
August 11 and September 08, 14:00-17:00


Fittleworth House Gardens
Pulborough, West Sussex, RH20 1JH
August 14 and 21, 14:00-17:00


Pythouse Kitchen Garden

Tisbury, Wiltshire, SP3 6PA
September 05, 10:00 -17:00


Riverford Field Kitchen Garden

Buckfastleigh, Devon, TQ11 0JU
September 07, 11:00 – 17:00


Community Gardens


Twigs Community Garden

Swindon, Wiltshire, SN2 2QJ

July 21, 13:00-17:00


Foxhole Community Garden
Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6EB
July 28 and 30, 11;00-16:00


The Growth Project

Rochdale, Lancashire, OL16 2JU
August 10, 11:30 – 16:00


The Therapy Garden

Guildford, Surrey GU3 2DT
September 01, 11:00-16:00


Tuppeny Barn

Southbourne, West Sussex PO10 8EZ

October 06, 14:00 – 17:00


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