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Private gardens opening up this summer

Hundreds of gardens open up to raise money for the British Red Cross

From now until September, you can visit hundreds of private gardens – including some never seen before in aid of the British Red Cross.

You can enjoy the greenery, landscapes and activities –and maybe a cup of tea and cake – for a small entrance fee which goes directly towards supporting the work of the Red Cross at home and overseas. Here are ten of the more unusual things you can see and do:

HANG OUT WITH AN ALPACA
Meet the owners’ cute alpacas and explore 20 acres of gardens including a wild flower meadow at Dassels Bury, Braughing, WARE, Hertfordshire, SG11 2RW Open: 21 June 2015 Dassels in Hertfordshire

PLAY CROQUET LIKE YOU’RE LORD OF THE MANOR
What could be more civilised than a game of croquet, surrounded by fantastic valley views? Just bring some racquets and equipment – and then figure out the rules. This colourful garden has rhododendrons, azaleas, herbaceous borders and shrubs, with a fantastic view over the River Tyne. Open: 31 May 2015, 2pm-5:30pm Aydon Grange, Aydon Road, CORBRIDGE, Northumberland, NE45 5PW Aydon Grange in Northumberland

SEE INDIA IN THE COTSWOLDS
If you thought the Cotswolds were just full of chocolate-box cottages, then think again. Sezincote is an extraordinary Indian house, which inspired the Brighton Pavilion.  A curving orangery frames the Persian garden of paradise. Enjoy the romantic water garden, with pools, waterfalls, a grotto, and a temple to the Hindu Sun God. Open: 05 July 2015 2pm-5pm Sezincote House, Sezincote, MORETON-IN-MARSH, Gloucestershire, GL56 9AW Sezincote in Gloucestershire  

DANCE THE CEILIDH ON A SHEEP FARM
Take part in this midsummer celebration on a rural sheep farm on 20th June and bring a picnic. There will be a ceilidh between 6.30 to 9pm, as well as children’s activities. Open: 20 June 2015, 4pm-9pm Grundle Farm, Walsham Road, Wattisfield, DISS, Norfolk, IP22 1PB Grundle Farm in Norfolk

TAKE TEA IN A MONGOLIAN YURT
Wander through a naturalistic garden with organic kitchen garden, orchard, goat paddock and ‘earth’ labyrinth, then relax in a Mongolian yurt where tea will be served. Open: 20 Sept 2015; 2pm-5pm Michael’s Folly, Henderson Place, Epping Green, near Little Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, SG13 8NE Michael’s Folly in Hertfordshire

CHANNEL YOUR INNER ‘ARTISTE’
Why not paint a picture of this gorgeous garden and take it home with you? There’s no shortage of subject matter: outstanding views; mature trees and shrubs; extensive rose beds, wild flowers, ox-eye daisies, cornflowers, teasels and grasses. All the materials you need will be there at the garden, supplied by the Society for All Artists. Open: 12 July 2015 The Red House, Hough-on-the-Hill, GRANTHAM, Lincolnshire, NG32 2BJ The Red House in Lincolnshire

DOVES AND DOVECOTES
Beat this for a garden walk: a pathway flanked by giant topiary doves, leading up to a dovecote (a small building for birds). There are plenty of other surprises in this eight-acre garden, from a sunken garden, to lakes and garden ‘rooms’. Walking shoes are recommended! Open: 17 June 2015 Rockcliffe House, Upper Slaughter, CHELTENHAM, Gloucestershire, GL54 2JW Rockcliffe in Durham

SWIM OUTSIDE… DON’T WORRY, IT’S HEATED (pictured above)
You could spend the whole day at this Victorian walled garden. There’s a tennis court, cricket lawn and boules – and, for an extra £3.50, you can even take a dip in a heated pool. Open: 14 June 2015   2pm-6pm Styford Hall, STOCKSFIELD, Northumberland, NE43 7TY Styford Hall in Northumberland

15TH CENTURY HISTORY
Like a bit of history with your garden? A four acre garden with roses, ornamental trees, shrubs and wide, herbaceous borders surrounds a gorgeous 15th-century farmhouse. Make sure you see the fine display of water lilies in the original moat. Open 22 June 2015 Carlton House Farm, Annis Hill, Mettingham, BUNGAY, Suffolk, NR35 1TF Trinity Place in Suffolk

FIND THE SUBTROPICS… IN FAREHAM
Sometimes the smaller gardens are the most surprising. Who would have thought you’d find rare, lush flora and fernery – from Australia and New Zealand – in this suburban back garden?  Four climate zones – arid, temperate, lush fertile and shady fernery – are all densely planted to make the most of the dramatic foliage. This is definitely a garden for ‘plantaholics’ and those with a passion for weird and wonderful plants. Open: 01 Sept 2015 8 Birdwood Grove, FAREHAM, Hampshire, PO16 8AF This garden is available for small groups, by appointment only, at other times. Birdwood Grove in Hampshire

There are open gardens across England and Wales, and more will open over the following weeks.

Details of many other gardens are available on the Red Cross website: http://www.redcross.org.uk/en/Get-involved/Events/Open-Gardens

Your entry fee or donation will go towards the British Red Cross and its UK and overseas work to help vulnerable people.

About the author: Dan Tye

Dan came up with the idea for Adventure 52 after meeting so many like-minded people who love all kinds of adventure activities. He started out as pilot in the RAF, has worked as a ski instructor and has spent the past 12 years as an editor and journalist for motorcycling, aviation and adventure magazines.