Secret garden is unveiled - ambition to open to the public is finally reached

Graham Bolton, opening his garden to the public, in Clapham.
Graham Bolton, opening his garden to the public, in Clapham.

Years of work creating a tranquil Alpine garden will be rewarded when the gates are open to the public.

Behind a bungalow in a street in Clapham, keen gardener Graham Bolton has nurtured a plot over the last 18 or so years to a standard now deserving admiration.

His garden at 4 George Street is a newcomer to the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), where each year the public are invited through the gate to help raise funds for a number of charities.

An area of gravel and sand, his Clapham garden is well suited to Alpines. He said: “The moment I put Alpines in it was ‘Eureka’, because it is free draining. There is no grass, it is a scree garden and you can leave it for weeks.

“I have been able to plant a garden that flowers from April until October and November, there is always colour in the garden.” Among his favourites are the dwarf potentillas.

This weekend’s opening will be a sadly poignant time too, as Graham had shared the ambition of opening his garden with wife Angela, who died last year.

He said: “It is something that we always wanted to do open to the public. There are many people who describe it like a secret garden.”

You can admire Graham’s garden which features around 150 different Alpines, along with junipers and acers, on Sunday, May 3 from 2pm until 5.30pm. Admission is £2, children free. Visitors are also welcome by appointment in May.

Graham’s garden is one of a number across Bedfordshire in this national scheme.

Other gardens included in the NGS guide are: Dragons Glen, 17 Great Lane, Clophill,; 22 Elmsdale Road, Wootton; Flaxbourne Farm, Aspley Guise; King’s Arms Garden, Ampthill; The Manor House, Stevington; The Old Vicarage, Westoning; Park End Thatch, Stevington; Treize, Wootton Green; 1 Tyrells End, Eversholt; Walnut Cottage, Chawston. Garden openings take place throughout the year and some are by appointment only.

Some sell plants and offer refreshments to help raise funds for the nominated charities.

There are also a number of group openings in villages, and in Bedfordshire this includes Old Warden on Sunday, June 29.

For details of the guide to the National Gardens Scheme opening, which is priced at £9.99, visit, or call 01483 211535.