Town & Country
Celebrating the NGS turning 90
NINETY years ago, in 1927, a shilling was all that was required to gain entry to the gardens of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, the first to open on behalf of what is now called the National Garden Scheme (note Garden, not Gardens, as announced yesterday) (NGS); visitors could ‘wander where they liked’, wrote an excited Times reporter.
The scheme had been established earlier that year by the Queen’s Nursing Institute to contribute to a memorial fund in aid of patron Queen Alexandra, following her death in 1925. Of the original 600 gardens that opened in 1927, more than 80 are still part of the scheme—sandringham in Norfolk and Ramster in Surrey are the only two to have been involved for every one of the charity’s 90 years.
To date, the NGS has raised more than £45 million for its beneficiary charities, which include Marie Curie and Macmillan Cancer Support; upping the shillinga-head charge in the 1970s helped enlarge the coffers.
Coinciding with the start of COUNTRY LIFE’S weekly NGS feature (Notebook, page 35), the new Yellow Book (above)—officially The Garden Visitor’s Handbook 2017—the essential guide to gardens opening for the NGS, is out and it’s had a special anniversary makeover. COUNTRY LIFE readers can purchase the book for £9.99 (RRP £12.99)—visit www.ngs.org.uk and enter the code CLMGVH17. Furthermore, May 27–29 is the NGS’S Anniversary Weekend, with 400 gardens open as well as craft fairs and exhibitions.
The West Garden at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, was the first garden to open under the National Garden Scheme