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National Gardens Scheme

April 4, 2012

Spring has most certainly arrived with the start of the garden-visiting season upon us. And what better way to celebrate than by visiting beautiful and interesting gardens in the warm fuzzy knowledge that you are doing your bit for a good cause at the same time? This year is the 85th anniversary of the National Gardens Scheme. If you’ve never heard of it before it’s a scheme that raises money through garden visiting, tea and cake! Every year hundreds of gardens all over the country (over 3,800 this year), many of them private, open to the public and charge a modest fee for entry. Impressively 83p in every pound raised goes to charity – mainly nursing and caring beneficiaries including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices and Crossroads Care. Last year 2.6 million was raised in total for nursing, caring and gardening charities.

Yellow is the colour

Participating gardens are listed annually in the famous Yellow Book. You can order your 2012 copy (£9.99) online here. The NGS has rigorous and high entry criteria so you always know that gardens will have passed a minimum standard making it worthy of inclusion in to the scheme. For the first time this year the NGS has launched a free iPhone app making finding gardens to visit even easier. The NGS can also be found on Twitter here. Who says garden visiting is fuddy-duddy?

Hidden gems

Last year I visited Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden in Hertfordshire on its NGS open day (I’m tempted to revisit again this year to see how the prairie he had sown is doing). I look forward to discovering many more gems in the book this season.

This year Dawn Isaac, author of Garden Crafts for Children and owner of this lovely garden in Cambridgeshire is opening her place for the first time in June. I’m hoping to make it to that.

Right, I’m off to have a cup of tea, perhaps a biscuit or two, and to flick through my Yellow Book to see what’s opening near me this Easter weekend. Happy garden visiting everyone!

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