National Gardens Scheme: a potted history

Next Saturday 27 May we are opening our garden, in support of the National Garden Scheme.

Beneficiary charities are: The Queen’s Nursing Institute, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Carers Trust, Hospice UK, Perennial, Parkinson’s UK and other guest charities.
Around 3,700 gardens open each year for the National Garden Scheme, all of the gardens can be found on NGS website or in their Garden Visitor’s Handbook, published annually.
The National Garden Scheme has a rich and interesting history that is closely connected with nursing in the UK, which has  been my occupation for the last 31 years.

In 1859, William Rathbone, a Liverpool merchant, employed a nurse to care for his wife at home. After his wife’s death, Rathbone kept the nurse on to help poor people in the neighbourhood. Later, Rathbone raised funds for the recruitment, training and employment of nurses to go into the deprived areas of the city.

In 1926 the organisation decided to raise a special fund in memory of their patron, Queen Alexandra, who had recently died. The fund would pay for training and would also support nurses who were retiring. A council member, Miss Elsie Wagg, came up with the idea of raising money for charity through the nation’s obsession with gardening, by asking people to open their gardens to visitors and charging a modest entry fee that would be donated.

In 1927 The National Garden Scheme was founded. Individuals were asked to open up their gardens for ‘a shilling a head’. In the first year 609 gardens raised over £8,000. A year later, the district nursing organisation became officially named the Queen’s Nursing Institute.

By 1931 a network of volunteer County Organisers had been set up and over 1,000 private gardens were open.

In 1932, Country Life magazine published an illustrated guide – costing one shilling – to 1,079 gardens open for charity, with a green cover and an introduction by its editor, Christopher Hussey.

In 1948, after the Second World War, the National Health Service took on the District Nursing Service, but money was still needed to care for retired nurses and invest in training. The National Garden Scheme offered to donate funding to the National Trust to restore and preserve important gardens. In return, the National Trust opened many of its most prestigious gardens for the National Garden Scheme.

In  1970 1,234 gardens opened raising almost £52,000.

In 1984 Macmillan Cancer Support joined the list of beneficiary charities.

In 1996 Marie Curie (formerly Marie Curie Cancer Care), Help the Hospices and Crossroads (now Carers Trust) also became beneficiary charities.

In  2013 Parkinson’s UK joined as a ‘guest charity’ of the National Garden Scheme, they went on to become a permanent beneficiary.

In 2016 in honour of Frogmore gardens opening for 70 years for the National Garden Scheme, 70 Queen’s Nurses attended the open day in June.

NGS donations for 2017:  MacMillan £500,000. Marie Curie £500,000. Hospice UK £500,000. Carers Trust £400,000. Qni  £375,000.


It would be lovely to see you next weekend. We have plants for sale and Phil is even parting with some trees!!!

2 The Faulds CA49PB. Featured in Cumbria Life, a compact garden accessed via sandstone steps is divided into 3 distinct areas. Rare and unusual trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials, a collection of trees in pots grown from seed, raised beds, wild- life pond and Bantam run. Art work and stained glass are on display. Nearby church with stained glass by Burne-Jones/William Morris and recent window by the garden owner.
For refreshments there are 2 PHs and a village shop all within a short walking distance.

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2 thoughts on “National Gardens Scheme: a potted history

  1. Norman Timperley

    I will be there counting feet and dividing by 2 to get the number of heads but if a one legged person comes in he will just have to hop it

    Like

    Reply

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