A First Date with the National Garden Scheme

Before reading this post, it helps to know what the NGS is:

“The National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique access to over 3,500 exceptional private gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Guernsey, and raises impressive amounts of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas and cake.”


You could say this post has been over eight years in the making. Likely even longer.

While the aim was there from Day 1, back in 2014 – when the garden was an expanse of sorry grass with overgrown areas, neglected plants and invasive weeds – it would be 3000 days later, that the final inspection would take place that would agree and accept the garden’s inclusion into the famous “Yellow Book” of the NGS and thus complete a dream of mine that stretched back to the start of the millennium.

That final inspection actually happened this very afternoon, thankfully after the rain had stopped, when the clouds packed off and the sun finally came out. It was kind of anticlimactic though, I’m not sure what I was expecting, a fly-past? Balloons from the sky? Confetti? Fireworks?

The inspectors arrived after lunch – we’ve known them for some time as they first saw the garden a good few years ago when the entire back of the garden was yet to be “dealt with” – we subsequently walked around the garden for a while, discussing what had changed since the last visit and there was I, frantically trying to explain the glaring gaps in the borders, like explaining gaps in employment on a CV at a job interview.

After circling the garden in various directions, we found our way back to the terrace, where I brought out freshly-made lemon and poppy seed muffins with lemon drizzle icing (see, no expense spared) and tea/coffee. We sat, overlooking the garden and talked NGS.

The birds were playful and raucous, the power tools were silent and the garden was lit in warm, buttery yellow sunlight. The muffins were moist and well-textured, somewhere in the distance, a chicken clucked as though it was laying an egg on behalf of a much larger bird species.

We spent the rest of the time discussing the logistics of opening, pricing, volunteers, road signs, dates, group visits, timed-slots, pre-booked tickets, parking, baking, raising money, donating money, perks, advertising and so on.

They then left, taking a pair of muffins with them.

So here I am, with lots to think about for next year, principally, “how the *@£$¢* am I going to fill the gaps I’ve got?”.

Before I dive into all that though, I’m just going to take a moment to have a good sit down first, after all, events like this don’t just come around every year, but they will start doing so from now on.


  1. Congratulations! Confetti seems appropriate. When will your open day happen? Do you get to choose your own preferred day in the garden season, or is that something negotiated with the inspectors? It’s very exciting.


    1. Thank you, Jean. We’ve yet to decide the dates – and that is a plural – as it’ll be around August when we receive all the admin paperwork to advertise our garden, facilities and dates for opening in 2023. We plan to open on dates across May, June, July but are not sure exactly when, we’ve never planned so far ahead before!


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