It has all the ingredients of village life: neighbourly co-operation, the sort of community spirit that gets things done, sweet-scented roses, freshly baked scones, serious fundraising for charity and a healthy sprinkling of politely disguised rivalry.

Iain Morrison started gardening at the age of 11, when his father gave him the task of looking after the vegetable patch on the family farm, Mains of Doune. His life is now dominated by gardening. Apart from running his garden design and maintenance business, he has fallen heir to the task of persuading people to open up their back yards to public view next weekend.

In a historic village which has gradually expanded, the oldest houses sit squarely on the main road with their gardens hidden at the back, grander mansions remain mysterious at the end of driveways and only the slightly newer cottages conform to the traditional image of a small house surrounded by a bountiful garden.

In Doune the tradition began nine years ago when keen gardener Irene Tulloch and her neighbour decided to open their gardens for charity and were quickly joined by others. "It was fantastic because it was a lovely sunny day, we had 10 gardens open and around 400 people." Following that success she is opening her garden for the fourth time this year, anticipating "a real social event, because people are very interested in gardening and so you are happy to chat to them".

During the 16 years she has tended her patch with her husband, George, it has changed from being mainly grass to having no grass at all as the shrubs and perennials were added to provide structure and colour in what is now a cottage garden with something of interest throughout the year.

"I have a framework of evergreens including a few pieris which are really handy because they provide colour and the bigger ones flower and have a perfume as well," explains Tulloch, who refers to her garden as a work in progress.

"There's been a lot of replanting over the past 18 months. Following two bad winters, I lost a lot of plants. My husband built a new shed last year so what had been a hidden part of the garden is now more open and that's allowed me to create an area for woodland plants."

Amateur gardeners preparing to display the fruits of their weekend labours to the public suffer the same anxieties as the professionals gearing up for a major event, whether at Chelsea or Ingliston. For Tulloch, it's whether the early summer flowers will last or the later ones be blooming at the start of July. "I'm worried some things will be over. I'm just hoping other things will be flowering in time. Certainly, my white rambling rose should be covered in blooms and providing scent, and there's a lovely deep-pink escallonia which should be in flower by July."

Nobody would know from the front of her house that there's a garden hidden at the back.

Her tips for keeping a garden attractive include vigorously pruning lilac to produce more flowers, packing plants in "so you only see the weeds when they are about three or four feet high", weeding after a shower of rain and pulling out one or two weeds every time you pass through the garden, something Tulloch says she does automatically, even when she's visiting a friend's garden.

This enthusiasm prompted her to take on another gardening project for the village 16 months ago. Doune's former bakery has been given a new lease of life as an information centre and community hub. When Tulloch and a friend were lamenting that the area behind it remained a derelict eyesore, the idea of turning it into a garden was born.

"Through the Kilmadock Development Trust we got people on community service to clear an area that had become a dumping ground. We set up a deep border and asked people to donate plants and got so many we had to make the border bigger. We are very pleased that it will be on show on the open day and we will use the Tarmac area for a stall with plants from all the open gardens".

For most of us, the attraction of village gardens, as opposed to the grand country house gardens with which Scotland's Gardens Scheme began in the 1930s to provide pensions for district nurses, is the invitation to snoop and gain ideas for our own humble plots.

Colin Scott's back garden is a dazzling demonstration of making the most of a small space. In the 50 feet behind his former council house he has managed to squeeze a miniature forest of conifers and shrubs that would rival many a garden 10 times the size. Larch, pine and yew trees, with several varieties of fir from the small alpine and Korean, to his favourite, the silvery noble fir, are set out like chess pieces. Clipping them carefully once a year keeps them from taking over. That leaves room for a few flowering shrubs of azalea and lilac and a greenhouse full of tomatoes with bright pansies and violas providing a splash of colour. With not a single weed visible and not a leaf out of place, this garden will be too regimented for some but the plants are meticulously cared for.

The village's newly acquired allotments offer a contrast of horticultural expertise. So far the furthest advanced is that belonging to John Wells, where not only potatoes but also peas, beans, beetroot, radishes and fruit bushes are all thriving. This is the result of Wells' experience and physical toil, with his partner and children, now 20, 17 and 15, all "cajoled into helping". He recently returned to Scotland after living in the south of England, where his very productive garden included tomatoes grown outside in the warm climate.

"We have a flat, so as soon as I heard there was a group looking for an allotment site, I got involved. We got the lease for the new site last October and work started in February in what was just a grassy field," he says.

"There are some experienced plot holders and some raw beginners, so advice is available to anyone who wants it. We also get plenty of advice from people along the walkway which overlooks the site and who seem to take an interest, so we are happy for people to come down and see what we're doing."

Since this is the first year of cultivation, most plot holders have given over the bulk of the ground to potatoes. Jayne Whitehead, chairwoman of Kilmadock Community Allotment Group (covering both Doune and Deanston, the village on the other side of the River Teith) is also a garden designer, and says a number of different varieties are being grown as a result of obtaining seed at a potato day held by the Dunblane allotment group. She hopes they might be able to have their own potato day later in the summer to show off their first crops. "Eventually we hope to have a small community orchard in the corner of the field. And possibly a wild flower meadow," she adds pointing to the carpet of buttercups in the uncultivated area. Space for children to play is also an important part of the package.

Childhood memories of her mother's allotment prompted Anna Clark to become involved with the group. She has a small garden at home in Deanston but wanted her children, aged eight and 10, to experience the pleasure of an allotment including getting along with people they would not otherwise meet.

Sarah-Jane Walker and her daughter Meghan, four, are hard at work weeding in the plot they share with Walker's sister-in-law. Having just started, they are concentrating their efforts in one half, which they have planted with potatoes and some seeds for salad crops and peas. Meghan also has a hosta to look after, a present from her granny. "I remember helping my grandad to grow vegetables, so working in the allotment gives me a chance to pass that on to Meghan," says Walker.

Whitehead's village garden will be one of those open next Sunday, despite her protests that she's been too busy working on other people's gardens. It's full of typical cottage garden flowers, including, on the day we visit, a stately angelica plant towering over irises and her current seasonal favourite aquilegia. "I like them because they do their own thing," she explains.

When the Whiteheads moved in eight years ago, it was a gravel garden, with no fence separating it from the pavement. Now it has been restored to archetypal cottage form, bordered by a wooden fence, with alchemilla mollis spilling round the edges.

Annette and Bob Oliver have twice opened their garden, although Mrs Oliver insists it isn't anything special. "It would be daunting if I thought people were coming to learn from my garden but, in my case, it's a question of taking part in an event that raises money for charity and lets people come for a day out and see different types of garden. This is definitely a very ordinary garden but it does have a variety of things in quite a small space. I think what makes it interesting is that the house, which dates from 1790, is very plain and sits right on the pavement, so people don't know what to expect when they come round the back". What they will find has changed over the 24 years of the Oliver family's stewardship. When their boys were young it was mainly given over to a football pitch and vegetable garden, then came flowers, vegetables and a pond.

Oliver categorises it as a village garden. "There's a wee pond, flower beds and shrubs, vegetables and a herb garden. Because of the weather, I don't think there is going to be a huge show of flowers. The veg are looking fine and I've just done a second planting of peas and beans," However, she says it's a question of waiting to see what effect the weather will have on the plants: "Some things have already flowered that should not and others which should have flowered haven't".

Despite similar trepidation on the part of the other gardeners, Morrison remains quietly confident. "A lot of people won't open their gardens because they think they are not good enough but once they have done it, they are keen to do it again," he says reassuringly.

Jean Gore, a former organiser for SGS in Stirlingshire and Argyll has fond memories of previous openings in Doune. "The first opening really did bring everybody out and about and the second one had great community spirit by including both Doune and Deanston which are really linked by a bridge," she recalls. A favourite story is that one of the visitors to her garden in Doune was someone who had lived in her house as a child. When he expressed sadness that they had cut down the holly tree, she was able to direct him to the two seedlings from the tree that she had put on the plant stall.

It's that human aspect which makes "ordinary" village gardens so alluring. Irene Tulloch sums it up. "I like to visit other village gardens, so I went over to see the gardens at Thornhill when they were open. There were three fabulous cottage gardens and three big houses on the outskirts, where the gardens were chock-a-block with weeds. The cottage gardens were much more interesting." n

Doune village gardens will be open for various charities under Scotland's Gardens Scheme on Sunday July 1 from 2-5pm. Tickets cost £5 from the information centre.