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NGS Cedar House First Opening Article - August/September 23

National Garden Scheme Cedar House First Opening

Since 1927, any new National Garden Scheme opening is a seasonal highlight, the throngs of appreciative visitors raising vital funds for NGS nursing charities.

On 27th August the gloriously secluded grounds of Wasperton’s Cedar House will open near Warwick, featuring four contrasting gardens - Peacock, Walled, Woodland & Paddock – with additional areas of interest including bamboo screen, swimming pool garden, arboretum and adjacent Sir Gilbert Scott church.

Owner David Burbidge looks forward to sharing his passion for trees, with the veteran Sycamore and the Cedar of Lebanon, after which the house is named, both being huge presences. He shares the provenance of each planting in his Woodland Garden, a cool, restful glade begun 5 years ago thanks to a time etched into Cedar House annals as “when the Great Beech fell”.

“I love buying plants!” enthuses David, pausing by the 300 year-old sycamore on whose branches sweeties regularly and mysteriously appear, to the delight of his grandchildren. “Every April the drive is ablaze with colour from the 1,000 tulip bulbs we buy in every year. Then the dahlias go in … I do like planting what I buy, I planted most of the Woodland Garden myself…”

Specialist trees and shrubs abound; the 80 year-old claret-leafed Acer, Chinese mahogany, Kentucky coffee tree and a varied clutch of Malus (crab apple) with all horticultural names carefully listed on the newly constructed website

Growing up in Berkswell, David discovered at an early age the satisfaction of growing vegetables, which he still enjoys greatly to this day. His lettuces - sold by a family friend at a local bank - became the source of early pocket money. “I regard my early lettuce-growing venture as being my first step towards my later career as a successful businessman,” he smiles, surveying the Canteloupe melons thriving in the glasshouse. Now retired from the day-to-day running of market leader Burbidge Kitchens, David led the successful bid for Coventry UK City of Culture and is Chair of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The current challenges of irrigating the lawns and borders surrounding this former vicarage are met by the Cedar House borehole, 42 metres deep. It also provides water to the 9 month-old Paddock Garden’s large wildlife pond, home to newts and dragonflies, baby gunnera, and surrounding borders of perennial planting aglow with poppy, cornflower and marigold.

Tranquility reigns throughout these six acres where sculptures come into focus amidst pastoral settings. Rose-climber ladders fashioned by the full-time gardener from arboretum birch thinnings guide the delicate ramblers up into the trees.

The happy project of the moment is “getting the square ready” for the arrival of David’s cricket-mad grandson from Kenya. And at the end of August, a stream of delighted visitors will complete the classic picture, as the garden will come into its NGS own…

Sunday 27th August

CEDAR HOUSE, Wasperton, Warwick, CV35 8EB (1pm-5.30pm) Admission £7.50, children free, homemade teas at the Village Hall.

Cedar House garden will also be Open by Arrangement until 31st October 2023 for groups of 15-25. For details of all Warwickshire openings, please visit

© NGS / Lily Farrah / Warwickshire NGS

Photo credits: Lily Farrah