UK’s only Texan garden joins this year’s Open Garden Scheme in Bedford

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The Texan-inspired garden is a nod to the building's original owner, Texas Instruments

Two very different Bedfordshire gardens will be welcoming visitors as part of this year’s National Open Gardens Scheme (NGS), raising essential funds for cancer and nursing charities.

The NGS sees over 3,500 gardens across England and Wales open up to the general public and this year for the first time Bedford Heights is opening its unique Texan Riverbed Garden as part of the scheme.

They will be joining NGS stalwart, the Manor House in Stevington – an award-winning garden created over 30 years by owner, Kathy Brown.

Texan Riverbed Garden – Saturday 5 June

The unusual Texan garden was designed by local landscape gardener Graham Pavey, as part of the refurbishment of Bedford Heights several years ago, and is now expertly tended to by Head Gardener Dave Boyd.

The Texan link comes from the history of the building as the UK Headquarters of US electronics company Texas Instruments, which occupied the building for over 30 years from the early 1960s until the late 1990s.

As the town’s largest employer in its heyday, Texas Instruments is a significant part of Bedford’s history, something the owners of Bedford Heights were keen to respect.

The garden is a haven for horticultural enthusiasts with a variety of rare and native Texan plants set amongst an attractive dry riverbed landscape, replicating the topography found in Texas’ Chihuahuan Desert.

Visitors can admire succulents and cacti as well as a mixture of grasses and herbaceous plants.

The Open Garden event offers a rare opportunity to view a garden of this nature along with the chance to meet both Graham and Dave, who will be on hand to talk more about the plants and landscaping and offer tips and ideas for visitors’ own gardens.

The Texan Riverbed Garden is open on Saturday 5 June from 10am until 2pm. Entry is £5 and all proceeds go to the National Open Garden Scheme charity partners; over £60 million has been donated as part of the Scheme including £2.88 million in 2020.

Pre-booking is essential. Book your timed tickets here.

The Manor House, Stevington – Monday 31 May

Kathy Brown’s garden at the Manor House Stevington covers four and a half acres and has been 30 years in the making.

The award-winning garden, designed and created by Kathy and Simon Brown, was named the Nation’s Favourite Garden – East Region, in 2019, and has been delighting visitors as part of the Open Gardens scheme for over 25 years.

Read: Manor House Stevington crowned Nation’s Favourite Garden

Open to visitors every Tuesday from April until September, bank holidays and selected Saturdays, the garden – and Kathy’s homemade cakes – are wonderful.

This month there are beautiful displays of cherry blossom, lilac and ceanothus, tree peonies are in bloom along with a mass of alliums and poppies.

“The garden should look really special for the Bank Holiday weekend,” said Kathy, who will be demonstrating the art of kokedama (moss balls) if requested. You can also purchase tea and homemade cakes.

Tickets are £7 per adult and £3 per child. Pre-booking is essential and is available here.

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