Spade in garden soil


National Garden Scheme

Enthusiastic gardeners looking to make their mark can seek inspiration from a rich source of horticultural excellence through the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

Whether you are looking for ideas to enliven your borders or for wholesale landscaping changes, there is bound to be something to get the juices flowing among the 3,800 gardens which are open to the public.

It is the breadth and scale of the variety of gardens on display which make the scheme such an incredible opportunity. There are ideas for those who own a small cottage plot or for the more substantial grounds of a country home.

Blanche Surman, who helped organise NFU Mutual’s sponsorship of the National Gardens Scheme, said: “We wanted to be involved with the National Gardens Scheme because we felt it showcased the natural beauty of this country while helping some very deserving causes.

"I would encourage anyone with an interest in gardening, or anyone who enjoys a day spent in beautiful surroundings, to take a look at what's on offer in the NGS's Yellow Book. There is sure to be something of interest just a stone's throw from your home."

Since its foundation in 1927, the National Gardens Scheme has donated over £45 million to charities. Among the charities which have benefited from the scheme are Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Hospice UK, Carers Trust, and The Queen's Nursing Institute.


Couple share their love of gardening:

Andrew and Celia Payne

On Sunday, June 21, Andrew and Celia Payne will open their garden in rural Staffordshire to dozens of visitors for the 13th year as part of the National Gardens Scheme.

The NGS guide describes the garden as a 'richly planted, wildlife-friendly garden with a large collection of unusual plants set in three-quarters of an acre'.

Their garden, in the village of Gnosall, features a wildflower meadow, cottage garden and vegetable plot, with Andrew's passion for hostas particularly in evidence with over 100 varieties on show. Colourful hardy geraniums, bamboos and a huge Kiftsgate rose are further highlights awaiting visitors.

Andrew, who estimates he spends 30 to 40 hours working in the garden each week, said: "I suppose I have always been a keen gardener and we are in a very fortunate position in that we have a nice garden and we can share it with other people. It is a great opportunity to mix with like-minded people and we have a made a lot of friends through the scheme. We do visit other gardens in the scheme ourselves as it gives us ideas for our own garden. It is also useful because many of them have plant stalls, like we do, so you can get some interesting bargains sometimes.

"Many of them also offer tea and cakes which is something I also like!"

Since the Paynes began opening their garden they estimate they have raised almost £10,000 for NGS through charging an entrance fee and sales from their plant stalls.

Opening information:

Sunday, June 21 (2pm to 5.30pm). Admission £3.00, child free. Home-made teas.

Contact Andrew & Celia Payne on 01785 822253 or at


A small selection of gems from the NGS’s Yellow Book: 


  • Bedfordshire - The grounds of Luton Hoo and the Luton Hoo Walled Garden, which was designed by Capability Brown and established by Lord Bute in the late 1760s.
  • Berkshire – Stunning setting for the BBC Great British Bake Off 2014, Welford Park near Newbury
  • Buckinghamshire – Cheddington Combined School Sensory Garden, created by pupils in 2007 and based on the senses of sight, sound, taste and smell.
  • Durham – Low Row is a former miner’s cottage described as ‘delightfully quirky’ with a knowledgeable gardener awaiting visitors and their questions.
  • Essex – 40 acres of garden and woodland punctuated by 60 sculptures await visitors of Barnards Farm south of Brentwood.
  • Gloucestershire – a modest, yet impressive garden at 25 Bowling Green Road is home to 400 varieties of Hemerocallis with their trumpet-like blooms.
  • Oxfordshire – the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden’s claim to fame is that it contains more species of plants per acre than anywhere else on earth.
  • Shropshire – a Japanese-inspired, beautifully designed garden is situated in the east of the county in Bridgnorth.