Just thought I would tell you all a little bit about the National Garden Scheme. I have just come from the Somerset region NGS lunch- and very nice it was too, whoever made the beetroot jelly is a genius.
The NGS was started in 1927 to raise money for the nurses of the Queen's Nursing Institute by opening gardens of quality and interest to the public. Since then the NHS has been set up but the NGS carried on supporting many other charities. Today 3700 gardens are opened and money is raised by donation, plant sales and cream teas. The NGS is mostly run by volunteers so that 80p out of every £1 raised goes straight to its beneficiaries. Hestercombe has opened its doors to the NGS for 85 years and our first NGS open day this year is the 5th March. Hestercombe donates all paid entry to the garden that day to the NGS.
It is also a charity that is very close to my heart. The NGS help sponsor horticultural training by supporting the National Trust's horticultural trainee-ship (known as the Careership). I was lucky enough to be sponsored by the NGS when I first embarked on my career. I spent 3 years based at Barrington Court near Ilminster and received all my qualifications and training thanks to the NGS, so I am always happy to support them back.
There are several really beautiful gardens in our area that open through the NGS, or Yellow Book scheme as many people refer to it. It is a great opportunity to visit a garden that you wouldn't normally have access to, meet fellow local gardeners, swap tips and ideas, and generally have a good nose around! And there are some really inspiring private gardens out there. So, arm yourself with a yellow book and go site seeing. If you don't have a yellow book we have a local version you can pick up from Hestercombe with information of all the gardens open across Somerset. You can also order a Yellow Book through the NGS website:
or use their online search to see what's on near you each day.
Not only will you have a fantastic day out but you get a chance to support some amazing charities. Below is a list of the charities supported by the NGS and the cash raised for each one last year. A spokeswoman from Marie-curie was at the lunch. She told us about how the charity aim to keep terminally ill patients at home with their families by offering nursing and respite care to their families. She said that it costs £180 for a nurse to stay overnight to care for a patient so they really appreciate all the help that the NGS offer.
So get out there and see some really unique gardens- just follow the yellow signs!