As the Easter holidays begin, and the clocks go forward tomorrow, take advantage of the extra daylight to visit some stunning gardens, says Jaine Blackman

When the sun’s shining and school’s out for Easter, it’s time for the family to venture outdoors and see how spring is bursting in to life.

There are some great gardens to visit over the holidays, with the added bonus of raising money for charity while you do it.

The National Gardens Scheme Yellow Book 2015 shows a plethora of privately-owned gardens which open their doors at certain times of the year to give visitors a chance to view their owners’ individual creations, with proceeds going towards nursing, caring and gardening charities.

More than 70 gardens will be open over Easter in aid of the NGS, including some Oxford colleges as well as private owners in the county.

“We encourage a very diverse range of gardens,” says the charity’s chief executive George Plumptre. “From really big country gardens of many acres to gardens in towns and cities. Currently our smallest garden measures five by eight metres.”

Many owners will only open their garden once or twice during the year while other bigger operators devote specific days to the NGS as a fund-raising initiative.

“We have a group of well-known gardens across the country which are open to visitors lots of the time [such as Waterperry Gardens near Wheatley] but will have certain days when all the money they’ve raised goes to the NGS. But the majority of gardens only open in aid of us because they enjoy welcoming visitors and love their garden being admired and raising money for charities.”

* The Yellow Book 2015 (Constable, £12.99) is a guide to almost 4,000 gardens open to the public on behalf of the NGS. Or look online at

Some of the gardens in Oxfordshire open for the NGS in the next few weeks are:

* Tomorrow. Buckland Lakes, near Faringdon SN7 8QW. 2pm to 5pm, admission £4, children free.

Two large secluded lakes with views over undulating historic parkland, designed by Georgian landscape architect Richard Woods. Ice house, cascade with iron footbridge, thatched boathouse and round house.

* Tomorrow. Trinity College, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BH. 1pm to 5pm. Admission £2.50, children free. Historic college gardens.

* Easter Sunday. Ashbrook House, Blewbury OX11 9QA. 2pm to 5.30pm. Admission £4, children free.

The garden where Kenneth Grahame read Wind in the Willows to local children and where he took inspiration for his description of the oak doors to Badger’s House. A three-and-a-half acre chalk and water garden.

* Easter Monday. Church Farm Field, Church Lane, Epwell, near Banbury, OX15 6LD. 2pm to 6pm. Admission £2, child free. Woods, arboretum with wild flowers and more than 90 different trees and shrubs in 4.5 acres.

* Easter Monday. Home Farm, Middle Lane, Balscote, near Banbury, OX15 6JP. 10am to 5pm. Admission by donation.

Formerly a plant lover’s peaceful garden, but now redesigned as low maintenance with flowering shrubs, mature trees and poetry.

* Easter Monday. Kencot gardens, near Lechlade, GL7 3QT. 2pm to 6pm. Combined admission £4, children free. Allotments and nine private gardens are opened in the village.