Ever thought about opening your garden to the public? How to join the NGS open garden scheme.
You dont need a garden that looks like Hampton Court
in order to open it up to the public. Your garden could be of interest to others, provided it is considered to be worth visiting and to be exceptional in certain respects. The criteria for open gardens is quality, character and interest. The National Garden Scheme (NGS) reputedly recommends that the garden needs to 'offer 45 minutes of interest to visitors'.
Garden lovers just enjoy looking at other people's special places!
Popular leisure activity
It seems that visiting gardens is now one of the most popular British leisure activities. And the NGS provides a highly efficient co-ordination scheme. It commenced back in 1927 with the aim to raise money for The Queen's Nursing Institute.
At that time it was largely the aristocratic
or wealthy who opened their doors to the middle classes
who couldn't wait to see what went on within the garden walls.
Who wouldn't want to take a look inside this secret garden?
Now, just about anyone can do it! You will need garden passion, vision, commitment and quite a lot of time, but most people feel that the rewards are well worth it. If you are highly enthusiastic about your garden and other people seem to like it too, its possibly a candidate for opening under the NGS.
How to find gardens that open to the public
There are currently around 3,700 gardens which open each year in this way and these can be found in the Garden Visitors Handbook which is often known as the yellow book.
The famous NGS 'Yellow Book' is a great way to plan some rewarding days out.
They are also detailed on the NGS website: www.ngs.org.uk.
These are all private gardens that open for charity, so opening to the public not only gives visitors a great day out but also helps to fund good causes. Some people open their gardens once per year, others open the garden gate several times, its entirely up to the owner.
Spring is a great time to visit other people's gardens!
How to open your own garden under the NGS
Personnel from the National Gardens Scheme need to approve gardens before they are accepted for opening. The organisation has a team of volunteers who can not only provide information to gardens owners, but they will also come and visit to see if your garden is suitable and offer advice where needed. Every garden that opens needs to be identified, categorised and itemised for the website and publication and there are health and safety issues to be considered too. It's impossible to prevent absolutely every type of mis-hap, indeed there are records showing that 'granny fell into the stream' at one open garden event!
The Yellow Book includes symbols to show potential visitors what it includes at a glance.
Each garden is labelled according to many different criteria including whether or not it is wheelchair-friendly, dog-friendly, whether it has refreshment facilities, toilets, car parking, plants for sale and whether or not it can accept groups. Some gardens even provide music and entertainment for their visitors!
Other people's gardens are fascinating!
Plan for the future
Planning ahead is essential! Opening a garden under the NGS can take many months to set up. The NGS official representative will generally time their visit to coincide with the month in which you would like the garden to open. This means that they will view the garden during the appropriate season. Don't imagine you can open next week without any preparation, it is more likely to be next year. Theres a lot that happens behind the scenes at these events. Not only must your garden be visitor-ready but youll need to think about baking cakes; marketing; publicity; organising volunteers to take entry money, serve teas and even to guide traffic and tours.
Home made cakes are always popular at an open garden event!
What can you gain from attending or hosting an open garden event? Hopefully, you will meet lots of friendly people, receive great feedback and gain plenty of enthusiastic inspiration.
Whats in it for you? After all the hard work and possible anxiety generated by getting things ready, satisfaction is the number one benefit! Gardeners and garden lovers are mostly friendly, positive and interesting people and you are likely to gain new friends and a lot of fun from their visit. Whats more, its a great way to exchange ideas and to receive compliments from those who have enjoyed their visit. Youll also know that funds raised are going to a good charitable cause its a win-win situation.
Getting a garden ready for opening to the public can be rather stressful, but the rewards are worth the effort.
Telephone 01483 211 535 to speak to one of the NGS team.
You need to prepare for opening a garden to the public. You can't organise the weather but everything else is up to you.
Garden lovers have plenty of opportunity to engage in their favourite pastime whilst entering competitions. There are competitions for having the best lawn (a recent winner claimed to mow his lawn six times every week including on Christmas day), village in bloom competitions, horticultural shows and photographic competitions.
If you are an amateur photographer or simply a garden enthusiast, you might be interested in The National Garden Scheme photography competition which is held in association with the BBC Gardener's World Magazine.
Don't delay: the competition runs from 15th March to 28th August 2018.
Photographic competitions are a great way to make people really look at a subject in order to capture its beauty.
There are categories to inspire all budding photographers:
Do you have a beautiful Clematis that will be flowering soon? You could try entering your photos into a competition!
- Town Gardens
- Design Details
- Beautiful Garden Views
- Garden Wildlife
- People in gardens
- BBC Gardeners World Magazine Fantastic Flowers
Judges will put forward category winners into a competition to win the Best Overall Photo prize. Each category winner can choose tools from the current WOLF-Garten range, up to £100. The overall winner will win a WOLF-Garten
72v lithium bundle, including lawnmower, leaf blower, hedge trimmer, and grass trimmer, worth £950.
Flowers make a great subject for close-up photography. Is your photo good enough to enter into a competition?
All photos entered must be taken at a National Garden Scheme open garden
between 15 March and 28 August 2018.
Entry and further details from www.ngs.org.uk/photo