Bumper 2024 National Garden Scheme season

The National Garden Scheme promises a wonderful, expanded portfolio of gardens to visit this year.

Sarah Price own garden open for the NGS

Each year the garden visiting season starts with the National Garden Scheme (NGS) Snowdrop and Spring Flower gardens. Over 100 gardens open their gates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from late January through February and into March. “After the long, dark winter months, the appearance of these beautiful early spring flowers really lifts the spirits and heralds the start of all the wonderful gardens to come,” says NGS Executive, George Plumptre.

For 2024, a total of 3,372 gardens are scheduled to open for the scheme, of which 338 are returning gardens and 575 are new to the scheme. “Every year our portfolio is refreshed with an influx of gardens either opening for the very first time or returning to the scheme after an absence of some years. At the same time, this year our portfolio of gardens emphatically confirms the growing diversity of our garden portfolio that we are actively developing. We are very proud that as well as the traditional country gardens that have supported the National Garden Scheme ever since our foundation in 1927, today our gardens really do represent the glorious kaleidoscope that makes up today’s garden landscape”, adds Plumptre.

2024 NGS gardens at a glance

  • A total of 3,372 gardens are scheduled to open
  • 575 new gardens of these 244 are opening as part of a group
  • 338 returning gardens
  • 213 groups of gardens
  • 981 are by arrangement, of these 671 also have a specific open day
  • 2,681 gardens offer refreshments
  • 1,873 gardens offer plant sales
  • 1,682 gardens welcome dogs
  • Over 1,700 NGS gardens include a water feature, highlighting the importance of this life-giving element

Community Garden Projects

Over the last decade community gardens have become an increasingly significant part of the
National Garden Scheme’s portfolio of gardens and an established section of the charity’s annual distribution of funds. All over the country community gardens are demonstrating the ability to bring people together and introduce them to the joys of gardening. They have made a particular and significant contribution in urban locations where access to green space can be limited and are a rich catalyst for diversity, engaging individuals and groups from the broad range of ethnic and religious backgrounds.

In 2023 the NGS distributed £260,000 to 86 community garden projects across England and Wales. “The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the growing popularity and importance of community gardens, and our support has responded to this. Now, at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is forcing many people to find innovative ways to support themselves, their families and their communities our Community Garden Grants are providing even more of a helping hand to thousands of people across the UK”, said Plumptre.

A few highlights for 2024

  • Exclusive garden opening weekend at David Austin with special access to the private
    garden of Mr Austin senior
    , 15 & 16 June. This also includes the David Austin and Emma Bridgewater collaboration with the ‘Bring me sunshine’ mug – £5 of each sale is destined for the NGS.
  • RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 with the National Garden Scheme Garden, designed by Tom-Stuart Smith and supported by Project Giving Back.
  • Gardens and Health Week (4-12 May in 2024) promoting gardens and health throughout the year, linking service users from our beneficiaries with garden visits and funding garden and health projects.
  • Brockhamton Cottage in Herefordshire. Created from scratch in 1999 by Peter Clay and Tom Stuart-Smith, this beautiful hilltop garden looks south and west over unspoilt countryside. There is a woodland garden, five acre wildflower meadow, a Perry pear orchard and in valley below: lake, stream and arboretum. The extensive borders are planted with drifts of perennials in the modern romantic style.
  • Sarah Price opens her garden, The Chain in Gwent as part of the Chapel Gardens group (pictured). A two acre Victorian walled garden. Gardened experimentally by Price, for the last 9 years for beauty and wildlife. Habitats inc meadow, gardened meadow, recycled sand and gravel plantings, pond and edge habitats, damp shade and dry shade under mature oaks.
  • Little Benville House. Contemporary garden, with landscape interventions by Harris Bugg Studio within a varied ecological ANOB and historic landscape off Benville Lane, mentioned in Thomas Hardy’s Tess. Within the curtilage there are new herbaceous borders, woodland planting, walled vegetable and cutting garden, cloud pruned topiary, ha-ha, ornamental and productive trees and moat which is a listed Ancient Monument.
  • Bramblewood Cottage. The experimental, hillside home garden of renowned horticulturist and designer Nigel Dunnett, which is based on strong ecological and sustainable principles, with extensive areas of naturalistic perennial planting. The front garden is designed around a pool, rain gardens and bioswales that collect rainwater runoff.
  • Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden, The Barn at Serge Hill opens for the 30th time this year. The new educational resource centre, with extensive Plant Library at Serge Hill will be open for the NGS visitors. The Plant Library is a collection of plants, mainly herbaceous, that are laid out as a filing system in an acre of old orchard and includes over 1000 herbaceous plants and 400 varieties of bulbs.

2023 proved to be a record year for the NGS with £3,403,960 donated to the charity’s beneficiaries. This represents a superlative achievement by the garden owners and county team volunteers who together worked tirelessly to host open days at 3,389 gardens across the year.

2024 also marks the 40th anniversary of NGS support for Macmillan and by the end of the year, they will have donated almost £20 million. This has funded over 150 Macmillan Professionals as well as having pivotal impacts on the NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre in Bristol, the NGS Macmillan Unit in Chesterfield and the Y Bwthyn NGS Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Unit in South Wales. Support, which has been invaluable in helping Macmillan to do whatever it takes for people living with cancer.

Commenting, NGS Chairman Rupert Tyler said: “As the nation’s health and social care system continues to battle with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and with deeply embedded systemic challenges, the contribution of the charities that we support has been increasingly vital. Their reach and impact, in cancer and end of life care, in community health and nursing and in particular areas such as people living with Parkinson’s, is immense and we are proud to be a major long-term supporter of them all.”