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bee entering flower at Cliveden Gardens

By Ann Evans


Garden photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography

Spring is well and truly here. Buds are appearing and flowers are already in bloom. After the long drab winter, lots of us will be itching to get back out into the garden. While you’re planning your gardening activities, be sure to yourself a copy of The Garden Visitor’s Handbook 2017, published by the National Garden Scheme (NGS).


This year the NGS celebrates its 90th anniversary and to mark the occasion, it has given itself a brand new look. The famous Yellow Book featuring the thousands of open gardens and more has a bright new modern appearance – as does the website. Check it out and see for yourself!


The Garden Visitor’s Handbook 2017 provides a comprehensive listing, county by county, of all the gardens – large and small, from stately homes to tiny cottage gardens which are throwing wide their gates to welcome visitors, and raising millions of pounds for charity. Eight-two pence in every pound raised goes directly to the beneficiaries. More than £50 million has been donated to nursing charities since 1927.


Some 3,700 private gardens will be taking part this year – so there’s bound to be a garden near you!  Maybe you’d like your garden to be included next year. Check the website to see how to go about this.

Hill Close Gardens, Warwick. Photo Tysall’s Photography

Charging just a small admission fee, meandering through a normally private garden can be fascinating and inspirational. The house owner will have been preparing for this special day by making sure their garden is as good as it can be, and may well have cuttings and plants for sale as well as delicious refreshments.  All the money raised goes to the NGS and in turn to the wonderful nursing charities that it supports. This year a record £3 million will be shared by the charities it supports. These are:


The Queen’s Nursing Institute who founded the National Gardens Scheme in the 1920s, to raise money to support district nursing. The two charities have have developed strong ties and a shared heritage ever since. This year is a very special occasion for the QNI as it celebrates its 130th anniversary.


Macmillan Cancer Support who acknowledge the NGS as its largest donor. Since they formed a partnership in 1985 the NGS have donated over £16 million to Macmillan ensuring that they continue caring and supporting people with cancer.


Marie Curie care and support through terminal illness also share a wonderful partnership with the NGS. Since 1997, the NGS have donated almost £8 million to Marie Curie helping them to continue to provide that lifeline for people living with terminal illness and their families.

Hill Close Gardens. Photo Tysall’s Photography

Hospice UK is another charity to benefit from the NGS open gardens scheme. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the modern hospice movement. Hospice UK supports more than 220 hospices across the UK, so that they can deliver high quality care to 360,000 children, young people, adults and their families every year.


Carers Trust is another worthy charity that supports the UK’s seven million unpaid carers. It celebrates its fifth anniversary this year and the NGS has been instrumental in helping the charity grow to the point that Carers Trust and its network support more than 500,000 across the UK.


Perennial the Gardeners Royal Benevolent Society which incorporates the Royal Fund for Gardener’s Children, also benefit from the NGS, who are the largest supporter of Perennial. It has made a massive difference to the lives of thousands of current, former and retired horticulturists and their families.


Parkinsons UK who first became a guest charity of the NGS in 2013, were last year honoured to become a permanent beneficiary. To date, this blossoming relationship has raised £622,000 enabling Parkinsons UK to fund specialist Parkinson’s nurses and give a lifeline to thousands of people across the UK.

NGS Handbook

In 2017 the NGS will also be supporting the MS Society, the National Autistic Society, and other smaller charities. But this can only be done by you and I heading along to one or two of the Open Gardens through the year. Personally, I can’t wait.


To learn more about the National Gardens School visit: https://www.ngs.org.uk/





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