Agnes Stevenson salutes a vintage year for the 90-year-old charity that encourages gardeners to make a spectacle of their prettiest fancy-work
If the photographs that my friends have been posting on social media this year are anything to go by, then it’s amazing what you can achieve when you are stuck at home.
Gardens that were once neglected weed patches have flourished and good gardens have become even better thanks to the attentions of home workers who have used their downtime to cultivate veg beds, flower borders and lawns.
I was exchanging lockdown news with one of my gardening friends, Liz Stewart, when she suggested that these glorious gardens deserved to have a wider audience.
When she is not caring for her own beautiful patch of earth in East Lothian, Liz is national organiser of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, the organisation that encourages members of the public to open their gardens to visitors in aid of charity.
This year some of that visiting has been done online through virtual garden tours, but next year marks the 90th anniversary of SGS and Liz wants as many new gardens as possible to come on board.
“Most years, around 500 gardens take part and between them they raise funds for about 250 charities,” says Liz.
To make the 90th year as special as possible, gardens of all sizes are being welcomed to join in including urban plots, community gardens and allotment sites.
“Often villages or streets get together to organise open days when there’s a chance to visit a number of gardens within a small area,” adds Liz.
Money is raised through admission prices, teas and plant sales and often garden owners recruit friends and family to help out, making every garden opening a bit of a celebration. The organisation itself promotes garden openings through its famous Yellow Book as well as online and through social media and garden owners are given help and advice from local organisers and from the SGS head office.
“Although we had far fewer gardens opening than usual in 2020 due to Covid, those that did open did so successfully with great care taken to ensure social distancing measures were in place and we know from visitor feedback how much these garden openings were appreciated by visitors,” says Liz.
So after this year of living under lockdown, it’s good to know that Scotland’s Gardens Scheme has ambitious plans for 2021 and I for one will be getting out and about to see as many open gardens as possible, not just for the fruit, veg and flowers but for the delicious cake that almost always accompanies these visits. And that’s something you definitely can’t share on social media.
Info@scotlandsgardens.org or call 0131 226 3714
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