See for yourself

Helen Auty at work in her garden (46 Cheyne Avenue, South Woodford)Helen Auty at work in her garden (46 Cheyne Avenue, South Woodford)

Wanstead resident Teresa Farnham is the local area organiser for the National Garden Scheme, which encourages people across the country to open their gardens and welcome in the public for charity.

Well, it is that time of year again when, as soon as the sun comes out, gardeners can't keep up with the sudden growth. So, it is nice to take a break and go and visit an open National Garden Scheme (NGS) garden.

It is always worth chatting to the garden owners as they are usually a mine of information about their favourite garden plants. If there is a plant you have been unlucky with and see it growing beautifully in someone else's garden, there is a good reason why you are unsuccessful. Sometimes, it is the wrong planting situation. Or something quite simple, such as acidic needle drop from a nearby conifer, being too near a lavender or rosemary bush (oil residue), or you have planted it too deeply or overwatered. More plants are killed by kindness, such as overwatering, than through anything else.

There is never enough time to do what we want in a garden, so my May Day bank holiday opening for the NGS gave me an impetus to make more room for entertaining (not easy in a 15-foot square plot). We managed to squeeze in 50 visitors, who raised the magnificent total of £355 in four hours! Hopefully, we can surpass the overall total for London gardens last year (£190,000) in this, our 90th year of opening NGS gardens.

It never ceases to amaze me how the NGS town gardens can differ in their content. Brodie Road, Chingford (open 20 August) manage to grow roses in pots and provide a riot of colour in their garden; Pettits Boulevard, Rise Park off the A12 (open 8 July) utilises agricultural implements in the garden and has a wonderful mini museum with old milk bottles, bottle tops and tractors! A new NGS garden in Maida Way, Chingford (open 2 July) has the most exotic koi, and not only is the garden at Latimer Road, Forest Gate (open 22 and 23 July) a feast for the eyes, but gardener Janet propagates plants on her allotment and sells them on open days to boost NGS funds. Goldhaze Close in Woodford Green (open 30 July) is the sort of garden you can meander through before eating the wonderful cakes. Harold Road, Leytonstone (open 30 July) is a large, pretty corner garden in relaxed English style, showing how to have fruit and fragrance, even in shade. Cheyne Avenue, South Woodford (open 6 August) has beehives with honey for sale. And last, but not least, St John's Road, Walthamstow (open 6 and 13 August) is described by its owner as a "haven of quietude".

You really have to visit and find out for yourselves, and then you can go home – full of sumptuous cakes and tea – with new plants and replicate the ideas you have seen.

For more information on the gardens open locally this year, pick up the NGS London guidebook from a local library, or visit To contact Teresa, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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