|Dean House has been described as "one of Hampshire's best-kept secrets"|
English country gardens don't get much better than this! Three of the most magnificent gardens in Hampshire are open in June for the National Gardens Scheme that you simply shouldn't miss if you want a taste of quintessential rural England. Start with Dean House at Kilmeston near Alresford. A glorious Georgian house with spectacular garden that's been described as "one of Hampshire's best-kept secrets.
|Clipped hedges, abundant flowers and York Stone paths are all features of the fountain garden at Dean House|
I can't imagine the amount of work that goes into keeping a garden looking as pristine as this with its sweeping lawns, York Stone paths, acres of immaculately clipped hedges and working walled garden. There's a fountain garden (above), kitchen garden filled with vegetables and cutting flowers, and much more to see at this lovely property, located in an idyllic Hampshire hamlet near Winchester.
|The kitchen garden at Dean House is filled with vegetables and flowers|
But equally impressive is Bramdean House, just a stone's throw away, which opens once a month for the NGS every year, from February through to September. This is a traditional garden with many interesting plants, and is famous for its mirror-image herbaceous borders (below). Stretching to five acres in all, you'll find more than 40 varieties of sweet pea here, a one-acre walled garden, and such abundant planting that you'll be hard pressed to identify all the plants.
|Bramdean House is famous for its mirror-image borders|
Bramdean has absolutely magnificent borders, glorious roses and there are always plants for sale on NGS days. Open throughout the season at least once a month and often featured on private garden tours. This is a garden you'll never forget - a classic English scene, that draws visitors from far and wide to its open days, but tends to get quite crowded due to the short opening times.
|Wrought iron gates lead to the orchard, belfry and apple house at Bramdean|
And then there's Lake House at nearby Northington, which overlooks one of two large lakes in the Candover Valley. Here you'll find stunning landscaped vistas, a magnificent walled garden, formal kitchen garden and rose pergola. There's no large house here, but a stunning garden complete with moongate. Open on selected days during summer for the NGS.
|The moongate at Lake House|
These three properties are just three of this year's gardens on offer from the National Gardens Scheme, which has extended its ever-growing list of gardens that open in England. Although the NGS' intention is honourable and the fund-raising efforts magnificent, it's a great pity that more gardens don't open during the week, because weekend visits can be incredibly crowded. But I suspect that weekday openings don't draw the crowds, or raise the funds!
|The rose pergola at Lake House|