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Open gardens: Four homes in Sheepcote Green, Clavering, to welcome visitors for charity in National Garden Scheme

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The owners of four quintessentially English country and cottage gardens just 20 minutes' drive from Bishop's Stortford will collectively welcome members of the public through their gates for the first time for charity.

And visitors can top off their trip to Sheepcote Green by enjoying tea and home-made cake on the lawn at one of the houses.

The neighbouring properties of Appletree Cottage, April Cottage and Sheepcote Green House plus the Waggon and Horses are taking part on Sunday May 30 in the National Garden Scheme (NGS). They will be helping to raise vital funds for nursing and health charities.

Roses at April Cottage
Roses at April Cottage

These four quite different but equally charming gardens enjoy an idyllic setting in the Essex countryside, about 1.5 miles north-west of Clavering and nine miles from Stortford. For sat nav purposes, the Sheepcote Green postcode is CB11 4SJ.

April Cottage, home of Anne and Neil Harris, has opened under the NGS for many years and its cottage garden charm has beguiled visitors including Alan Titchmarsh, when filming for his Love Your Garden series on ITV last summer.

New to the NGS for this year are neighbours Judy and Adrian Wilson-Smith at Appletree Cottage together with Sheepcote Green House, home to the McNaughton family, whilst a short walk along an ancient bridleway is Jenny and Peter Milledge’s Waggon and Horses, a former pub.

A rose arch with apple blossom at Apple Tree Cottage
A rose arch with apple blossom at Apple Tree Cottage

Appletree Cottage is a compact cottage garden of fragrant roses, clematis and honeysuckle with annuals and perennial beds.

Sheepcote Green House has an old country garden set in the three-acre grounds of a former farmhouse which is currently undergoing a gentle reawakening with wildlife in mind.

The Waggon and Horses is a quarter-acre garden offering rural views and mixed planting incorporating rhubarb and soft fruit among flowers grown for perfume and pollinators.

Visitors can finish by browsing plants for sale on the green and enjoying pre-ordered tea on the lawn at Sheepcote Green House.

A glorious spring morning at Sheepcote Green House
A glorious spring morning at Sheepcote Green House

A selection box for two to share includes four pieces of home-made cake and two drinks (tea, coffee or fruit juice) for £10. Email info@thehabitatgarden.co.uk to book and remember to take your own picnic rug.

The gardens will open from 1pm to 5pm. The combined admission price is £8 for all four, children go free. You can book in advance via ngs.org.uk/view-garden/42171.

Sheepcote Green is one of the seven 'greens' and three 'ends' that help to make up the large and scattered Clavering community. The others are: Hill Green, Stickling Green, Starlings Green, Roast Green, Birds Green, Deers Green, Mill End, Ford End and Further Ford End.

The National Garden Scheme was founded in 1927 by the Queen’s Nursing Institute to raise money for district nurses. Since then it has donated over £60m to nursing and health charities, including £2.88m last year despite the coronavirus pandemic. It gives visitors unique, affordable access to over 3,600 exceptional private gardens in England and Wales and raises money through admission charges and sales of tea and cake.

Thanks to the generosity of garden owners, volunteers and visitors, the NGS is the most significant charitable funder of nursing in the UK. Other beneficiaries include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK and Parkinson’s UK.

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