The National Gardens Scheme has been opening fine, many normally private, gardens to the public to raise money for charity for over 75 years. So, lets take a look back at how the Scheme began and how it has grown from the creative entwining of two strands of our heritage - the national passion for gardening, and the deeply embedded desire to help those in need. The Scheme's continuing success in raising funds for its beneficiaries indicates how relevant those enthusiasms remain today.
In 1859, a philanthropic Liverpool merchant, William Rathbone, gained much comfort from employing a nurse to care for his dying wife in her own home. Aware of the plight of the poor, for whom there was no such provision, he asked her to finish her contract by tending to them. Convinced by this experiment, he raised funds for the recruitment, training and employment of nurses to go into the deprived areas of the city, which he divided into 'districts', each with an honorary 'Lady Superintendent'. This initiative was to be the beginning of 'District' Nursing. By the end of the 19th century, this regional scheme had been widely copied, and, with the help of Florence Nightingale and the warm approval of Her Majesty the Queen, became 'Queen Victoria's Institute': a national voluntary organisation responsible for setting standards and training nurses for duty in the new countrywide District Nursing Service.
In 1980 the Queen's Nursing Insitiute decided to give the Garden Scheme an existence in its own right, and, on 1 January, The National Gardens Scheme Charitable Trust was born as an independent charity, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as Patron and Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester as President. From that year too, Garden Owners have been able to help additional charities of their own individual choice by offering them a share of the money raised through their garden openings, a procedure which often benefits many smaller, local charities. In 1984 Macmillan Cancer Relief joined the list of nursing charities to benefit from the monies raised by the NGS. A similar garden opening organisation, 'Gardeners Sunday' merged with the National Gardens Scheme in 1986 and as a result the NGS now supports the Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society and the Royal Gardeners' Orphans Fund.
The growth of the Scheme during the 1990s enabled the NGS to add, in 1996, three further charities to its list of beneficiaries: Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices and Crossroads Caring for Carers. Over the years the gardens which open for the Scheme have changed in size and style. In place of the hundreds that opened in 1927 we now have thousands of medium-sized and small gardens, the majority belonging to practical gardeners. However, it is a tribute to the Scheme that in 2002 almost 100 of the 'Pioneer' gardens were open for us.
Abbotswood, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, GL54 1EN (Mr R Scully)
1m W of Stow-on-the-Wold. On B4068 nr Lower Swell or B4077 nr Upper Swell
Massed plantings of spring bulbs, heathers, flowering shrubs and rhododendrons in dramatic, landscaped hillside stream gardens; fine herbaceous planting in elegant formal gardens with lily pond, terraced lawn and fountain created by Sir Edwin Lutyens
8m E of Chipping Norton. On B4030, ½m from junction of A4260 & B4030
15-acre garden with views from house (not open) across sweeping lawns and picturesque lake. Walled garden with colourful herbaceous borders, separated by established yew hedges and espalier fruit, contrasts with more informal woodland garden paths with vistas of specimen trees and meadows. Working glasshouses and fine display of fruit and vegetables.
3m W of Cheltenham. Off A4019 Cheltenham to Tewkesbury rd. After crossing M5, take first turning L, signed to Boddington
Old garden sympathetically restored since 1985 incl wild flower woodland walk, mature specimen trees, extensive lawns and lakes; established pinetum and bog garden. New planting of acers, birches, liquidambars in meadow setting. Neo-gothic manor house (not open). Country Garden Market
Bourton House Garden, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire, GL56 9AE (Mr & Mrs R Paice)
2m W of Moreton-in-Marsh. On A44
Surrounding a delightful C18 Cotswold manor house (not open) and C16 tithe barn, this exciting 3-acre garden positively fizzes with ideas. Featuring flamboyant borders, imaginative topiary, profusions of herbaceous borders and exotic plants and, not least, a myriad of magically planted pots; a plantsman's paradise.
Eastcombe, Bussage and Brownshill Gardens, near Stroud
Gardens in this group:
1 The Laurels Beechcroft, Beech Lane Brewers Cottage Hampton View, The Ridge Holt End, The Ridge Little Dormers, 64 Lypiatt View Mount Pleasant Cottage Normandie Cottage, Fidges Lane Oakgates Redwood Rose Cottage, The Street Vatch Rise
3m E of Stroud. 2m N of A419 Stroud to Cirencester rd on turning signed to Bisley & Eastcombe
A group of gardens, large and small, set in a picturesque hilltop location. Some approachable only by foot. Exhibition of botanical art by Sally Birch. Jewellery and hand-painted silk scarves by Jean French
Ewen Manor, Ewen, nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6BX (Lady Gibbs)
4m SW of Cirencester. Via A429 3m from Cirencester turn at signpost Ewen 1m. Turn L before entering village. Gate on R 50yds
Profusely planted series of gardens with architectural features, yew hedges, pattern-mown lawn, terrace and containers, lily pool, cedar trees over 200yrs old; woodland area all around. Spring bulbs and blossom. Georgian Cotswold manor, not open.
Friars Court, Clanfield, Oxfordshire, OX18 2SU (Mr J H Willmer)
5m N of Faringdon. On A4095 Faringdon to Witney. ½m S of Clanfield
C16 part-moated farmhouse (not open) with approx 4 acres of informal gardens, grounds and moat ponds with living willow tunnel and bower; woodland walk and 1m nature trail to lake area. Solar photovoltaic array and alternative energy exhibition area, museum, display rooms and shop.
Hodges Barn, Shipton Moyne, Gloucestershire, GL8 8PR (Mrs C N Hornby)
3m S of Tetbury. On Malmesbury side of village
Very unusual C15 dovecote converted into family home (not open). Cotswold stone walls act as host to climbing and rambling roses, clematis, vines, hydrangeas, and together with yew, rose and tapestry hedges create formality around house. Mixed shrub and herbaceous borders, shrub roses; water garden; woodland garden planted with cherries, magnolias and spring bulbs. Also open for NGS, adjoining garden of Hodges Farmhouse by kind permission of Mrs Clive Lamb. Featured in 'English Garden' 2005.
Home Farm, Huntley, nr Newent, Gloucestershire, GL19 3HQ
4m S of Newent. On B4216 ½m off A40 in Huntley travelling towards Newent
Set in elevated position with exceptional views. 1m walk through woods and fields to show carpets of spring flowers. Enclosed garden with fern border, sundial and heather bed. White and mixed shrub borders. Stout footwear advisable in winter. Teas available nearby.
3m S of Fairford. Take A419 from Cirencester or Swindon. Kempsford is signed 10m (approx) from each. The Manor is in the centre of village
Early spring garden with snowdrops, winter aconites, followed by crocuses, anemones, daffodils and narcissi. Snowdrop walk along canal to orchard and vegetable garden. Summer garden of herbaceous borders and roses; adjacent to village cricket field. Outdoor games for children. Peaceful, expansive garden for relaxation. Tea is served by log fire in early spring.
Luggers Hall, Springfield Lane, Broadway WR12 7BT
(Kay & Red Haslam)
5m S of Evesham. Turn off Broadway High St by Swan Hotel, bear L into Springfield Lane. Luggers Hall is on the L approx 300yds along. Some parking but limited - if possible use car parks which are close by
2½-acre formal garden originally designed by the famous Victorian garden artist Alfred Parsons. Features incl rose garden; parterre; walled garden; potager; white garden; koi pool and herbaceous borders, all connected by gravel paths with seating areas. An abundance of clipped box and yew hedging; plus Victorian hazel walk. Children with caution due to deep water feature. GGG 2005
March House, Evesham Road, Broadway, Worcestershire
(Jim & June Cowan)
2m NW of Broadway. On A44, 1st house on R after roundabout going towards Evesham turn into unmarked lane. From Evesham approx. 3m, pass Murcot junction turn into unmarked lane 10yds past house sign 'The Slinget'
½ acre of herbaceous borders; extended water feature; young specimen trees; roses; small orchard; soft fruit; vegetable plots and heather garden. The garden was started from scratch in 1993. Featured in 'Worcestershire Life', 'Gloucester Echo' 2004; Natureza San Paulo, Brazil 2005.
Mill Dene Garden, School Lane, Blockley, Gloucestershire, GL56 9HU (Mr & Mrs B S Dare)
3m NW of Moreton-in-Marsh. From A44, follow brown signs from Bourton-on-the-Hill, to Blockley. 11/3m down hill turn L behind village gates. Parking for 8 cars
This garden surrounds a Cotswold stone water-mill, set in a tiny steep sided valley. It seems to have evolved naturally in English 'country garden' style. A millpond, stream, grotto, potager and trompe l'oeil all contribute to the owner's design for surprise, concealment, scent, colour and, above all, fun. New - little cricket pavilion. Featured in '25 Beautiful Gardens' 2005.
Pear Tree Cottage, 58 Malleson Road, Gotherington, Gloucestershire,GL52 9EX (Mr & Mrs E Manders-Trett)
4m N of Cheltenham. From A435 turn R into Gotherington 1m after end of Bishop's Cleeve bypass. Garden is on L approx 100yds past Shutter Inn
Mainly informal country garden approx ½-acre with pond and gravel garden, grasses and herbaceous borders, trees and shrubs surrounding lawns. Wild garden and orchard lead to greenhouses, herb and vegetable gardens. Spring bulbs and early summer perennials and shrubs particularly colourful
3½m SW of Wotton-under-Edge. Off B4058 from Wotton-under Edge through Charfield Village. At top of Charfield Hill, turn L. 2m from M5 J14, at Xrds on B4509 go straight across into Churchend Lane
Small private garden designed and planted in 2002 by Lesley Rosser. Densely planted for all-yr-round interest, maturing well. Incorporates trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, water, gravel and hard landscaping to give an informal peaceful feel. Nearby Urn Cottage may also be open.
Stanway Fountain & Water Garden, nr Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, GL54 5PQ (Lord Neidpath)
9m NE of Cheltenham. 1m E of B4632 Cheltenham to Broadway rd or B4077 Toddington to Stow-on-the-Wold rd
20 acres of planted landscape in early C18 formal setting. Recent restoration of canal, upper pond and 165ft high fountain have re-created one of the most interesting baroque water gardens in Britain. Striking C16 manor with gatehouse, tithe barn and church. Britain's highest fountain, the world's highest gravity fountain.
Temple Guiting Manor, Temple Guiting, nr Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire (Mr S Collins)
7m from Stow on the Wold. From Stow on the Wold take B4077 towards Tewkesbury. On descending hill bear L to village (signed) ½m. Garden in centre of village on R
First stages complete of newly designed formal contemporary gardens (by Jinny Blom) to Grade I listed historic manor house (not open) in Windrush Valley. Featured in 'House & Garden' & on BBC TV with Diarmuid Gavin, 2005.
The Matara Garden, Kingscote, Gloucestershire, GL8 8YA (Herons Mead Ltd)
½m NW of Tetbury. On A4135 towards Dursley. At the Hunters Hall Inn turn R into Kingscote village. Enter Park at 1st gate on R
A unique meditative garden alive with inspiration from around the world. Labyrinths, medicine wheel, ponds, sculptures and walled ornamental vegetable garden. We are developing an Eastern woodland walk and wild flower meadow. Matara is a spiritual garden dedicated to the full expression of the human spirit. All set within a 28-acre parkland. Plants on sale NGS days only.
The Old Rectory, Coleshill, Oxforshire (Sir George & Lady Martin)
3m SW of Faringdon. Coleshill (NT village) is on B4019
Medium-sized garden; lawns and informal shrub beds; wide variety shrubs, incl old-fashioned roses, 50yr-old standard wisteria. Distant views of Berkshire and Wiltshire Downs. House (not open) dates from late C14
The Red House, Pillows Green, Staunton, nr Gloucester (Mr & Mrs W K Turner)
8m NW of Gloucester. On A417 from Staunton Xrds, ½m off B4208
Split-level 2-acre organic and wildlife garden with herbaceous borders, containing many native wild plants, ponds; gravel garden and terrace with containers; parterre; also flower meadow. C17 house open by appt. Garden designed and maintained by owners.
Upton Wold, nr Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9TR
(Mr & Mrs I R S Bond)
3½m W of Moreton-in-Marsh. On A44 1m past A424 junction at Troopers Lodge Garage
Ever-developing and changing garden, architecturally and imaginatively laid out around C17 house (not open) with commanding views. Yew hedges; old shrub roses; herbaceous walk; some unusual plants and trees; vegetables; pond and woodland gardens. National Collection of Juglans. Featured in 'English Garden' 2005.
Westonbirt School Gardens, Westonbirt, Gloucestershire (Westonbirt School)
3m SW of Tetbury. Opp Westonbirt Arboretum, on the A433 (follow brown tourist information signs)
22 acres. Former private garden of Robert Holford, founder of Westonbirt Arboretum. Formal Victorian gardens incl walled Italian garden, terraced pleasure garden, rustic walks, lake, statuary and grotto. Rare, exotic trees and shrubs. Beautiful views of Westonbirt House, now Westonbirt School, not open.
Westwell Manor, near Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4JT
A visitor will find at Westwell an enclosed garden, surrounding a Tudor manor house, having many different rooms, and a focus upon the use of water in both traditionally and more innovative ways. Highlights include a Moonlight Garden where white plants catch the moonlight in an area surrounded by a circular yew hedge, herbaceous border, potager, a rose garden, orchard, water gardens, and experiments in land art.
Whitcombe House, Overbury, Worcestershire (Faith & Anthony Hallett)
8m S of Evesham. 7m W of Broadway, 5m E of Tewkesbury, 7m N of Cheltenham. Overbury village lies off B4080 between Bredon & Beckford. Whitcombe House nr church
Garden set in 1 acre of walled garden. Large herbaceous borders, framed by weeping beech and the Indian Bean tree give shape and height. Shrubberies, countless roses and more raised beds beside gravel paths and high walls complement the air of informality and colour. A stream runs swiftly over waterfalls through the garden under the Captain's Bridge and is surrounded on all sides with primulas, arums and marginals. Allow plenty of time to relax and enjoy the tranquillity and variety, lots of plants available too. Featured in 'Gloucester Echo & Evesham Journal 2005.
Whitehill Farm, Widford nr Burford OX18 4DT (Mr & Mrs Paul Youngson)
1m E of Burford. From A40 take turn signed Widford. Follow signs to Whitehill Farm Nursery
2 acres of hillside gardens and woodland with spectacular views overlooking Burford and Windrush valley. Informal plantsman's garden being continuously developed in various areas. Herbaceous and shrub borders, pond and bog area, old-fashioned roses, ground cover, ornamental grasses, bamboos and hardy geraniums.