Take a virtual tour through a glorious garden in Berkshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:25 29 May 2020

The Old Rectory , Farnborough

The Old Rectory , Farnborough


Despite having to close its garden gates for the first time in its 93-year history, the National Garden Scheme has launched a visually glorious campaign that will keep its stunning gardens virtually open.

In 1927, the National Garden Scheme opened the gates of private gardens for a little genteel snooping and a spot of tea and cake, with 600 gardens charging a shilling on the gate to raise much-needed funds for nurses working in local communities.

Then, it was a great success but, fast forward to 2020, and a global catastrophe has again brought the need for public support for front-line community nurses into sharp focus. The sad truth is that not only do coronavirus victims need care, but other illnesses have not gone away. We can do more than clap for the carers.

Over 3,600 gardens – including more than 50 in Berkshire – were due to open across England and Wales, aiming to raise £4 million for charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Carers Trust, Hospice UK, Parkinson’s UK and the QNI. But due to the coronavirus lockdown, garden gates must close, dramatically hitting the beneficiary charities.

Heather Skinner, County Organiser for Berkshire, said: “This is my 13th year volunteering with the National Garden Scheme, and it is certainly the unluckiest year imaginable. June is a peak month for us and many gardens will be looking at their best. Our volunteer team has been working hard, however, and although the gardens are closed, through the coming weeks virtual garden visits, many filmed by their owners, are being hosted on the National Garden Scheme’s website.”

NGS thank youNGS thank you

Mary Berry, President of the National Garden Scheme, who launched the campaign in her own Oxfordshire garden, said: “This wonderful organisation has been inviting people to open their gardens to raise funds for nursing and health charities for more than 90 years. During that time it has given away nearly £60million. Also during all that time, the gardens have never had to close – not even during the Second World War. That is until now.

“Right now, people are not able to visit the gardens and there is no money being raised. In fact, as things are, the charity’s income is likely to be down by 80% during 2020.

“So a team at the National Garden Scheme made up of garden owners, volunteers and staff have organised a marvellous campaign.

Old RectoryOld Rectory

“Garden owners have recorded videos of their gardens to make a series of ‘virtual visits’ and we are inviting everyone who might have visited a garden to watch a virtual visit instead and think of giving a donation to the charity.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea, typical of the resourcefulness that has kept the National Garden Scheme going for over 90 years, and I urge you to support the campaign generously and enjoy the stunning gardens.”

Medical staff approve too.Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, Chief Executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute – which originally founded the National Garden Scheme in 1927 and still benefits from its fundraising, said: “Queen’s Nurses have been supported by the opening of private gardens to the public since 1927 when the QNI founded the National Garden Scheme, so I am delighted to see that people can continue to enjoy these beautiful gardens – albeit virtually – and continue to raise money for Queen’s Nurses who are leading and delivering expert nursing care to patients in every village, town and city during this pandemic.”

Tracy McWilliams, a Marie Curie Nurse working in end- -of-life care, was amazed to discover that the National Garden Scheme is Marie Curie’s largest single funder and has given the charity nearly £10 million over 25 years. “Their support makes such a difference to me and all Marie Curie Nurses on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis, as we continue to provide care and support to people at end of life,” she says

Nursing during coronavirus pandemic April 2020.Nursing during coronavirus pandemic April 2020.

One of the most stunning gardens in this year’s portfolio, which has been raising funds for over 50 years with annual openings, nestles in the heart of Berkshire, and we are giving you a preview on the opposite page.

The National Garden Scheme hopes you enjoy not only the virtual garden visits but choose to support them and their beneficiaries with a donation.

And looking ahead, the charity remains upbeat. Heather Skinner adds: “We would be delighted to hear from anyone who has a lovely garden and would be interested in opening to support us next year.”

To make a donation, visit ngs.org.uk

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