Great gardens, great cake

NGS 90th birthday cake

I had the good fortune to attend the NGS launch in London last week, where the celebratory 90th birthday cake was most excellent. It had to be seeing the NGS's president is Mary Berry and their new strapline is Great gardens, great cake. It was a most uplifting day, with the chance to talk to people from the charities who benefit from the scheme, garden owners, and many of the volunteers who help make it happen.

There was the grand reveal of the fab friendly new branding, plus the record distribution of £3 million pounds to good causes from the money raised in 2016. I was particularly interested to hear about the opening of the NGS Macmillan Unit at Chesterfield Royal Hospital as my niece is studying medicine at Nottingham University, so may get the chance to have a placement there.

Alan Gardner made a most moving speech in recognition of the National Autistic Society's receipt of the Health and Wellbeing award for 2017. He talked about how Twitter had brought about a transformation in his world. He's a top garden designer who just happens to have Asperger's and he found as his tweeting went on that people with autism started to ask him questions about gardening, and in turn gardeners asked him questions about autism.

Then the two groups started to talk to each other and found a common bond through gardening. We hear so much how bad social media is for individuals and society as a whole. Here's one quiet example of how it can be for good - how two disparate groups found an understanding - common ground if you'll excuse the pun.

It shows how talking and listening to each other, plus the simple act of gardening (and NGS garden visiting!) can do much to make the world a better place.

There is a brand new NGS website to explore as well as the new Garden Visitor's Handbook - the ray of sunshine which landed on my doormat last week. Where will they take you this year?

NGS Garden Visitor's Handbook
The dog's name is Geoffrey, a lively dachshund 
Update: Victoria's written a great piece on her experiences of opening for the NGS and why it's an important charity to support. Her poignant comment about the lack of district nurses reminded me that George Plumptre (the NGS' Chief Executive) also made a moving speech about how important they are.

Support for the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) goes right back to when the NGS started 90 years ago. Community nursing in the shape of district nurses was important then, and they are needed even more now that the demands on care in the community are increasing.

George said that community nurses have more responsibility than their hospital counterparts and on lower pay, so it's no wonder their numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate. The NGS is increasing their grant to the QNI this year to fund leadership training, which in turn should lead to more Queen's Nurses and a higher profile for the profession. The QNI website says:

"The title 'Queen's Nurse' is available to community nurses who have demonstrated a high commitment to patient care."

Doesn't every community deserve to have a Queen's Nurse? Let's visit some NGS gardens and help make it so.

NGS Garden opening at Awkward Hill Cottage, Bibury in 2016
At Victoria's NGS opening last year


  1. A good post about this worthy cause that all gardeners should support. Flighty xx

  2. Oh that cake looks most appetising VP. I have my 2017 'Yellow Book' and have one or two visits planned already :)

  3. As well as coming away with new ideas after a stroll in a beautiful garden, the good vibes that come from the owners and visitors of the NGS gives you a real buzz - or is that from the delicious cakes!

    1. Hi L, welcome to Veg Plotting :) Yes, there's plenty of good vibes to be add from NGS visits. The same happened at the launch too!


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