Beyond a pair of black and gold gates, one of Watford's “best kept secrets” is in full bloom.

What is now known as Cheslyn Gardens, in Nascot Wood Road, once belonged to Lord Capel, the Earl of Essex, who sold the land in 1888.

A couple named Henry and Daisy Colbeck then bought it piece by piece between 1942 and 1958 at a total cost of £4,986.

An architect, Mr Colbeck designed Cheslyn House and the gardens were built up over 20 years, before the grounds were sold to the Watford Corporation for £5,100 in 1965.

The gardens were later proclaimed to be an area “of special horticultural interest open to the public”, in 1972.

Cheslyn Gardens is now maintained by its resident gardener, who welcomed visitors to the grounds at an open day last Friday.

The sunshine led to people sitting on benches surrounding the recently restored pond, while children were drawn to the aviary that contains a dozen varieties of birds.

Beyond the house, a paved pathway turns into a dirt track for visitors to explore the dense woodland garden.

Nick Harris has been the resident gardener at Cheslyn Gardens for 11 years.

“I like to create a natural feel to the gardens and encourage a lot of wildlife,” he said.

“The aviary and the pond are the main focus points, as well as the woodland walk.

“A lot of people probably drive past here every day but don't realise it's here.”

Mr Harris added that he would like, in the future, to build a bee and butterfly garden, complemented by various new plants across the grounds.

More than 2,000 people have visited Cheslyn Gardens in the past ten months, according to the number of leaflets picked up by visitors.

And along with Cassiobury Park and Woodside Park, it was also the winner of a prestigious Green Flag Award last year, which recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country.

David Jenkins, parks development manager for Watford Borough Council, said it was the perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet.

He said: “It's a nice tranquil place to come.

“People come all year round and if you come at a few different times, you see different things.

“It's a team effort to get a Green Flag, by the dedicated park staff and friends groups, and it's a nice achievement to get.

“The last few years it's come along quite a bit. We're really pleased with it.”