Some people's gardens are just too beautiful to be kept to themselves. Fortunately, the National Gardens Scheme allows us all a peek behind some very special hedges.
All over England and Wales, from stately homes to tiny terraces, the results of the pruning, hoeing and nurturing of Britain's most green-fingered are on display as part of the National Gardens Scheme.
For the owners, it can be the culmination of a year's hard work. For the rest of us, it's a chance to be wowed by their skills, learn from their experience, and sample some tea and cake.
And it's all in a good cause. Last year alone the NGS raised £2 million for charity from admission fees, refreshments and sales of the NGS directory, The Yellow Book.
Chris Morley, from the National Gardens Scheme, says that those generous souls taking part often have very personal reasons for doing so.
"Perhaps a garden owner has had a friend or relative who was cared for by one of our main beneficiaries and wishes to raise funds in that person's memory.
"Then there are those people who are keen gardeners and just want to share their garden and their gardening experience with others."
But visitors' motivations tend to be simple. "People like gardens!" says Chris. "People like to see other people's gardens. And it's a great value for money afternoon out.
"Two adults - £3 each, under-16s free, tea and cake and you might have spent £10. And with over 3,600 gardens you won't have to travel far either to visit one."
The first openings are in January and February when snowdrops and hellebores are emerging. They reach their peak in June, and some gardens will open deep into the autumn and early winter.
If you would like to take part, but find the idea of getting your own garden up to scratch a little daunting, have a look at a few properties currently for sale with gardens that have already been open for all.
The House: Fairfield is a fine wisteria-clad six-bed period house elevated above the Severn Valley. It was built in about 1830, was once part of a substantial estate, and is thought to have only changed hands four times.
Guide Price: £1.1 million
The Garden: The 2.4 acre gardens feature vistas and hidden seating areas, orchards and terraced lawns, a kitchen garden, and wildlife areas.
For traditional rail enthusiasts, the Severn Valley Steam Railway line runs below the far boundary, operational during the summer months.
What the Owner says: Mr Pat Beardsley says: "It has given me a lot of joy over 26 years.
"I was in the National Gardens Scheme for several years but had to stop when my wife became ill.
"I still cut the lawn and keep the hedges tidy, and someone comes in to help me once a week. It's a good home for a keen gardener."
What the Agent Says: Belinda Hutchinson-Smith from Savills, West Midlands, says:
"The gardens are glorious. They've been established upwards of 150 years, and been nurtured over the last 26 years by the clients.
"It's the variety, the fact that you have the mix of the wildlife and the formal gardens. They're magical. The sort of gardens one could imagine children having a ball in with lots of trees to climb and corners to hide in."
"You can't define an actual value for gardens like these, but they certainly add to the wow factor."
The House: Stanford House is a substantial seven-bed Edwardian home with an indoor swimming pool, boat store, and views over formal gardens to the marshes, river and sea beyond.
Price: Offers in the region of £2 million.
The Garden: The 1.5 acre gardens feature wide herbaceous beds and pathways that lead through staged lawns, interspersed by specimen trees, and various well-stocked flower beds. At the bottom of the garden is a large pond with a waterfall.
What The owners says: Lady Gillian Cave says: "We've been in the house for 30 years, and I've opened the garden for the Red Cross in the past, but I've been taking part in the National Gardens Scheme for the last four years.
"It is hard work, but it's very rewarding. It's gratifying for the people who help me here to have it appreciated by more people.
"We've been very busy this year. I don't know if it was because people thought it was their last chance to see the gardens before I move.
"We've made £720, which we can donate to local charities. There are so many beautiful gardens and I wish more people would take part.
"I'm 84 now and I've done my back in doing this garden. I'm moving to a house with an enchanting garden, but much smaller."
What The Agent Says: Tom Orford from Savills, Ipswich, says: "The gardens in coastal properties don't generally match up to their inland rivals but Stanford House breaks all the rules.
"People do attribute value to the garden, but it's not something I could quantify as a value, particularly as the position of this property is also so remarkable.
"But the gardens are lovely. People who see them just stand and gaze and gaze."
The House: The Parsonage is a charming Grade II listed period house. It has evolved from its Medieval and Tudor timber-framed origins and combines Queen Anne, Georgian and Victorian additions and features.
Guide Price: £1.75 million
The Garden: The 12.2 acre grounds comprise sweeping lawns, colour-filled borders, a productive kitchen garden, rare orchards, parklands with arboretum, and stunning topiary.
What the Owner Says: Mrs Rosemary McCollum says: "I open the garden to groups such as the University of the Third Age, the WI, Rotary Club, and the RHS.
"The soil is excellent, grade A in Europe. We have a 300-year-old pear orchard and an organic vegetable garden that I'm told could feed a village.
"And the views are tremendous. We're semi-elevated and we have views of the Malverns and the Abberley Hills."
What the Agent Says: Belinda Hutchinson-Smith from Savills, West Midlands, says: "The combination of its wonderful topiary, formal and informal gardens, woodland walks and parklands provide the most perfect setting for such an attractive and impressive period house.
"The new owner could either enjoy it to its full or minimize it. Expertly-planted beds are actually less work than they look."
The House: A six-bed traditional timber-framed Kent farmhouse, dating back to the 16th century, with Edwardian extensions, set on the outskirts of the village, and with excellent views across to the Greensand ridge.
Price: Offers in excess of £975,000
Garden: The four-acre grounds comprise lawns, formal gardens, box hedge bordered beds planted with a variety of bulbs, shrubs, fruit trees, and vegetables, and, to the north, an apple orchard.
What the Owner says: Mr Redman says: "I designed and created the garden myself, and I've been taking part in the National Gardens Scheme on and off for about five years.
"I do it because I enjoy gardening and I've learnt a lot from seeing other gardens in the scheme and wanted to share my knowledge.
"I will be sorry to leave it but there are always new challenges. We have a house in Spain and I'm in the process of tackling the garden there."
What the Agent Says: Sarah Simmons at Savills, Cranbrook, says: "We were all very jealous when we saw this garden, and it made me want to get out there and start creating my own garden.
"Gardens like this are unusual and people will buy a property because of the garden, though at the moment people are looking for value for money."