On Sunday, my mum invited me out for the day. Usually we head to a nice country pub for a Sunday lunch, or for a drink in the beer garden if the weather is nice, but this time she suggested visiting an Open Garden. I was brought up with weekends spent exploring the incredible National Trust properties in the North East - including Wallington Hall and Cragside - so I've seen my fair share of fancy, open gardens and wasn't particularly enthused at the prospect of wandering around yet another.
However, when we arrived at The Old Vicarage in the picturesque town of Warden, West Northumberland, I changed my mind. We parked up, surrounded by other cars and families, and made our way to a beautiful, period house set in stunning gardens. The entrance fee of £3.50 seemed slightly steep to me, but considering you can spend an entire day there and the proceeds also go towards British Red Cross, it was definitely worth it.
After paying, we began to explore the gardens - first up was a gorgeous small garden, filled to the brim with flowers and herbs, and an incredible sun dial in the shape of a globe - it was pretty cool, but unfortunately I didn't manage to snap a photo. My mum loves flowers, a passion she has inherited from her parents, so she was able to inform me of the names of the flowers that I thought were "pretty". There were lots of photo opportunities for budding nature photographers, but I forgot to take my camera and had to make do with my phone - oops!
We then made our way into the orchard which was so atmospheric and I could just imagine the trees being lined with fairy lights and having small camp-fires dotted around, as well as hammocks hanging from the branches - honestly, it would have made an awesome party venue! The orchard led back through to the courtyard and the lawn area, where people were able to enjoy an ice cold glass of Pimms (for just £2 - what a steal!) and laze about on the grass, soaking up the rays.
Instead of stopping for a drink, we headed up into the rear garden, past the wildlife friendly pond, and made our way up, past the beautiful borders full of pretty plants, and were able to enjoy the stunning views of the church tower and all the gorgeous greenery beyond the house. After exploring the remainder of the garden and some of the surrounding woodlands, we decided to refuel with a slice of homemade cake whilst escaping the heat, by cooling down under a tree.
All in all, it was a really lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon. We spent a good hour and a half exploring the gardens, as well as the local church, and think it's an activity that would appeal to all sorts of people; from families with kids who need to run around and let off some steam, budding photographers or people with an interest in plants, or just people who want to enjoy some nice weather in a relaxed, beautiful setting.
Upcoming British Red Cross Open Garden's in Northumberland:
Thornley House, Hexham on August 31st, 2014
Dilston Physic Garden, Corbridge on July 27th, 2014