The National Gardens Scheme

Hidcote was one of the first gardens we acquired with NGS support, in 1948 © Hidcote/Gloucestershire Archives/CADHAS

Hidcote was one of the first gardens we acquired with NGS support, in 1948

A total of 15 National Trust properties will be awarded a plaque from the National Gardens Scheme to commemorate its 85th anniversary, celebrating the fact that they have been part of the scheme since its beginning in 1927.

Following the death of their patron, Queen Alexandra, the Queen's Nursing Institute created the National Gardens Scheme in 1927 in order to make basic medical care accessible to all. The Scheme enabled the paying public to 'wander where their liked' [sic] in selected private gardens across England and Wales, previously only accessible to owners and tenants, at the bargain price of one shilling.

Since 1927, £35 million has been donated to nursing, caring and gardening societies through the money raised from entrance fees. The National Gardens Scheme is now the biggest single benefactor for both Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care, and continues to donate significant amounts to different guest charities each year, from which the Alzheimers Society will benefit in 2012.

In the 1940s, when many of the nation’s greatest houses and gardens were facing an uncertain future from the loss, costs and neglect of the war years, the NGS helped secure their future. With foresight and generosity, the NGS agreed to make the National Trust a beneficiary of its funding and the National Trust returned the generosity by opening its gardens in support of their charitable work, which it has done ever since.

Today, the National Garden Scheme and National Trust are still working together by offering gardeners the opportunity to study for qualifications in heritage gardening. The one year Foundation Certificate will develop essential skills, whilst the two year Diploma in Heritage Gardening is unique to the National Trust and offers what is arguably the most comprehensive grounding in heritage gardening available. Co-funded by the National Gardens Scheme, the courses place trainees at major National Trust gardens and cover everything from plant conservation to period planting styles.

Currently, the National Garden Scheme has over 3,800 gardens in England and Wales, including over 100 in our care.

The 15 places are:

Ascott, Lanhydrock, Trelissick, Killerton, Knightshayes, Kingston lacy, Westbury Court Garden, Ightham Mote, Scotney Castle, Ham House, Blickling Hall, Erddig, Dunster Castle, Charlecote Park, Croome Park