SPECIAL gardens across west Dorset will open their gates to the public for this year’s Open Gardens in Dorset.

As part of the National Garden Scheme gardens will across Bridport, Beaminster and Lyme Regis will welcome visitors this month to raise money for various charities.

Each garden selected to be part of the scheme is considered extremely special, of great interest and of high standard.

The Old Rectory in Litton Cheney will be open on May 5 and 8 from 2pm to 5pm and admission costs £6.

Steep paths lead to four-acres of natural woodland with many springs, streams and two pools – one a natural one – planted with native plants. the walled garden has informal planting, a kitchen garden, orchard and 350 rose bushes for a cut flower business.

Wolverhollow in Elsdons Lane in Monkton Wyld, next to the church, will be open on May 12 and 13 from 11.30am to 4pm and admission costs £4.

The garden is made up of more than one acre on different levels, lawns lead past borders and rockeries down to a shady lower garden. Numerous paths take you past a variety of uncommon shrubs and plants and a meadow has an abundance of primulas growing close to a stream. There is also a cabin in the meadow area from which vintage, retro and other items can be purchased.

Pilsdon View on the junction of Butts Lane and Pitman’s Lane in Ryall, Morcombelake, will be open on May 18, 19 and 20 from 1pm to 6pm and admission costs £6 combined with Well Cottage.

The garden’s hard landscaping provides different levels with views over the Marshwood Vale towards Pilsdon Pen. Water features with wildlife add to the essence of the garden.

Well Cottage boasts a one-acre garden brought back to life over the last six and a half years. There is now more light after some trees were taken down and new areas have been cultivated and the planting is intended to be natural and the emphasis is very much on colour.

Heather Coley’s textile art studio will also be open to view.

Another garden opening its gates is 2 Pyes Plot, St James Road in Netherbury, which will be available to view on May 19 from 2pm to 5pm and admission costs £3.

This small front and back courtyard garden was created from new in 2007 with cream walls and black paintwork making a striking framework for softer planting. Climbing plants, foliage and running water feature enhance the tranquil feel to this space.

Slape Manor, also in Netherbury, will be open on the same day from 2pm to 5pm and admission costs £5.

The River Valley garden has spacious lawns and primula-fringed streams down to the lake. Walk over the stream with hostas, gunneras and horizontal cryptomeria. Admire the wellingtonias, wisterias, rhododendrons and planting around the house. It is mostly flat with some sloping paths and steps.

Harcombe House in Pitmans Lane, Morcombelake, will be open on May 26 and 27 from 11am to 5pm and admission costs £5.

The garden is landscaped into the hillside, 500ft above the Char Valley with views across Charmouth and Lyme Bay. The steeply sloped site comprises a three-quarter acre formal garden and a half acre wild garden. The formal garden has been rediscovered, restored and replanted in natural and relaxed style over the last 12 years with an abundance of shrubs and perennials. It featured in Amateur Gardening magazine and on Radio Solent.

The Old Rectory in Netherbury will be open on May 26 and 28 from 11am to 5pm and admission costs £6.

The five-acre garden comprises formal areas with topiary near the house and large drifts of natural planting elsewhere. It has an extensive bog garden with a pond and stream and a large collection of candelabra primulas. There are wildflower areas and orchards, a decorative kitchen and cutting garden and was featured in Gardens Illustrated.

George Plumptre, CEO of the National Garden Scheme, said: “The National Garden Scheme isn’t about opening beautiful gardens for charity – we are passionate about the physical and mental health benefits of gardens and gardening.

“As the gardening visiting season gets into full swing, our Gardens and Health Week that runs from May 11 and 19 encourages everyone to discover more about the often transformative power of gardens and gardening.

“From stately home acres to stunning urban rooftops, to seaside havens, we open gardens to inspire all.”

Many of the gardens will be serving a selection of refreshments.

For more information, visit www.ngs.org.uk