A few years ago, I became aware of the National Open Garden Scheme, a proposal where gardeners invite others to look around their pride and joy for a donation to charity. It’s a great idea for other gardeners to get inspiration and advice and the money goes to a good cause. I was going to do this last year but, as so often, the year went too quickly and in September I realised I missed my chance.
I noticed a poster for Fulwood Open Gardens on a walk with a friend. It was displayed on a tree in a particularly eye-catching front garden. It wasn’t part of the national scheme, but was a local event, designed to raise money for the Baby Beat Appeal at the nearby Sharoe Green Hospital.
(The appeal aims to raise £100,000 each year to fund the state – of-the-art technology needed by the Maternity Unit, not covered by the budget. There is also a current funding campaign – Little Ted’s Appeal – to soundproof two rooms at the Delivery Suite).
There were 10 gardens altogether, from 10.30am to 4pm, but we only visited six because of prior commitments in the afternoon.
All had their merits and were varied.
One was very quirky and a real mix of everything in a fairly small space. Buddhas, tick. Fairy garden, tick. Veg patch (including onions), tick. An abundance of flowers, tick…
One gardener proudly showed us around his raised beds and containers of vegetables – carrots, cabbages, parsnips and more – and handing out tips while he did so.
A delightful slice of chocolate cake and a refreshing cup of tea was had in next door’s conservatory. I loved the summer house at the bottom of their garden.
A small garden demonstrated what could be done in such limited space and there was even a sheltered housing complex offering a display of flower borders and hanging baskets.
My personal favourite was the wildlife garden. As we strolled along the path, we saw crowds of bees feasting on the lamb’s tail among other culinary (for them) delights amidst the flower borders. I also came across a small white butterfly. But what I saw was only a mere glimpse of what creatures comes to visit…
The garden owner told me that a hedgehog came round at 9.45pm every night for his supper. Today his neighbour came to look around his garden and told him a hedgehog visited him nightly at 10pm!
I came away from the gardens feeling inspired and invigorated. What next? Raised beds for veg? Bee balm to attract bees? Sink garden of succulents? A fairy garden?
Have you taken part or visited a Open Gardens Scheme, whether local or national?
For more information on the National Garden Scheme, visit https://www.ngs.org.uk/
Facts of the Day
1. The National Garden Scheme was founded in 1927.
2. At that time, before the creation of the NHS, admission fees raised money for district nurses.
3. According to its website, the National Garden Scheme is the ‘largest single funder of nursing and caring charities in the UK’. Since 1927, £55m has been raised for charity.