Wokingham Today

California Gardeners’ Club


AT our March meeting there was a big turnout to hear Heather Skinner tell us about the National Garden Scheme.

She is the county organiser for Berkshire and has been a volunteer for over 10 years.

It is a charity founded in 1927, run by volunteers and is the most significan­t charitable funder of nursing, which it has raised £53,000 to support. Gardens are opened in 50 counties in England and Wales.

Its beginnings were in Liverpool when the wife of William Rathbone fell ill in 1859 and a nurse was employed to look after her.

After Mrs Rathbone died, William Rathbone saw that there was a need for nurses and continued to employ her as the first District Nurse. Florence Nightingal­e helped to open the first nursing college, and Queen Victoria gave her name to what would become the Queen’s Nursing Institute.

In the 1920s Elsie Wagg had the idea of opening gardens for charity. In 1927, 600 gardens opened for an entry fee of one shilling, and £8,000 was raised, a lot of money in those days.

We were shown many pictures of gardens that are open locally – 45 are open this coming summer; and, of course, of the famous cakes. It is not surprising that the cakes are so good, as Mary Berry is the President of the Charity. (Her garden is not open now as too many people descended on the village).

Among the charities supported are the Queen’s Nursing Institute, Macmillan, Marie Curie, the National Autistic Society, the Carer Trust and Parkinson’s.

Their website is: ngs.org.uk gives details of their open gardens.

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