© friedmanwd and istockphoto

© friedmanwd and istockphoto

Here’s the perfect way to knock back some fresh air and say hello to spring – and it’s all for a good cause.

From now until September, you can visit hundreds of gardens to raise life-saving cash – including some never seen before.

Not only will you get your daily dose of green space, but many are a whole day out in themselves: with mazes, woodland walks, treasure hunts and cream teas.

Prepare for a few surprises. Here are just a few things you can see and do:

1. Hang out with an alpaca

The alpaca: how can an animal be this cute and funny? When you’ve had your fill of all the fluff and buckteeth, you can go and explore these 20 acres of garden.

Dassels in Hertfordshire

2. Play croquet like you’re lord of the manor
© Aldo Murillo and istockphoto

© Aldo Murillo and istockphoto

What could be more civilised than a game of croquet, surrounded by fantastic valley views? Just bring some racquets and equipment – and then figure out the rules.

Aydon Grange in Northumberland

3. See India in the Cotswolds
© Sezincote garden owners

© Sezincote garden owners

Thought the Cotswolds were just full of chocolate-box cottages? Think again. Sezincote is an extraordinary Indian house, which inspired the Brighton Pavilion.

Sezincote in Gloucestershire

4. Dance the ceilidh on a sheep farm
© JulieVMac and istockphoto

© JulieVMac and istockphoto

Let the sun power your dance moves at this midsummer celebration. There’s still time to practise that tricky ‘flying Scotsman’ manoeuvre. After that, roll out the picnic and enjoy this rural spot.

Grundle Farm in Norfolk

5. Take tea in a Mongolian yurt
Get comfy: there's even a wood-burning stove inside this yurt. © Alan Tindley

Get comfy: there’s even a wood-burning stove inside this yurt. © Alan Tindley

Lean back and relax in this Mongolian yurt, on a 2½-acre plot with an organic kitchen garden, orchard, goat paddock and ‘earth’ labyrinth. Make mine a milk with no sugar, please.

Michael’s Folly in Hertfordshire

6. Channel your inner ‘artiste’
© bjones27 and istockphoto

© bjones27 and istockphoto

Remember that gorgeous view forever by painting a picture and taking it home. All the materials you need will be there at the garden, supplied by the Society for All Artists.

The Red House in Lincolnshire

7. Take your new profile pic – with doves
© Rockcliffe garden owners

© Rockcliffe garden owners

Beat this for a garden walk: a pathway flanked by giant topiary doves, leading up to a dovecote (a small building for birds). And there are plenty of other surprises in this eight-acre garden…

Rockcliffe in Durham

8. Swim outside… Don’t worry, it’s heated
Fun for all the family. © Styford Hall owners

Fun for all the family. © Styford Hall owners

You could spend the whole day at this Victorian walled garden. There’s a tennis court, cricket lawn and boules – and, for an extra £3.50, you can even take a dip in this heated pool.

Styford Hall in Northumberland

9. Make like Monet at a lily pond
Look forward to seeing something like this. © craigchiassonphotography and istockphoto

Look forward to seeing something like this. © craigchiassonphotography and istockphoto

Like a bit of history with your garden? This green space surrounds a 15th-century farmhouse – and includes some wonderful water lilies in the original moat. Prepare your best ‘poetic’ and thoughtful face, now.

Trinity Place in Suffolk

10. Then find the subtropics… in Fareham
© Birdwood Grove garden owners

© Birdwood Grove garden owners

Sometimes the smaller gardens are the most surprising. Who would have thought you’d find rare, lush flora and fernery – from Australia and New Zealand – in this backyard in suburbia?

Birdwood Grove in Hampshire

Find out more
  • There are open gardens across England and Wales, and more will open over the following weeks. Find a garden near you – and start planning your fun day out.
  • Remember: your entry fee or donation goes towards the British Red Cross and all our UK and overseas work to help vulnerable people.
  • Take part in some of other amazing events – from zip wires and hill climbs to more leisurely jazz lunches.