I think by now many readers of thinkingardens will know that our garden, Veddw, was thrown out of the UK National Gardens Scheme. But I think it’s worth mentioning here for the sake of those who haven’t. For those unfamiliar with the scheme it is an organisation which opens gardens for charity in the UK, and is a major player in the British garden scene.
It’s worth mentioning because it demonstrates the rather depressing state of the British garden world. The reason that the garden is no longer in the scheme is that I wrote a piece in the Spectator lamenting the effect that opening gardens for charity has had on the view of gardens in this country. (The piece can be read here)
It’s a robust piece; it has been accused of being rude, but it’s also not novel. I have been saying this, in print and on-line, for many years now. The National Gardens Scheme and its personnel have in the past, while not engaging with the discussion, been aware and apparently tolerant of, even amused by my views. So our dismissal from the scheme may be more personal than corporate. I don’t know. The only communication I have had is a couple of emails in response to my query about not being asked for dates this year.
This is the second, following my request to know why we had been put out of the scheme:
I don’t think you have any concept how many hundreds of humble, innocent garden-owners and NGS volunteers were deeply hurt by your diatribe in the Spectator earlier this year. I find it hard to believe: 1. You would still want to open in aid of the NGS; 2. Given no information about opening had been sent, in the circumstances you would not realise that we were not inviting you to take part.
George Plumptre Chief Executive National Gardens Scheme www.ngs.org.uk
I quote it because I find the description of garden owners as “humble and innocent” and so vulnerable to “hurt” on behalf of every garden in the country open under the scheme, unbelievably patronising and an eloquent reflection of the attitudes informing gardens in this country.
And, of course, this all demonstrates that my comment in the Spectator article, that : “because gardens have become a charitable exercise, (they are) above all criticism and indeed, critique,” is right. The NGS could have engaged with this debate, to the benefit of all involved with the garden world, and perhaps thereby also created a forum for the actual thoughts and feeling of NGS garden openers and volunteers themselves, instead of speaking for them.
A wasted opportunity.
Anne Wareham, editor
The Daily Mail had its own take on the issue. (below the cake piece – strange how cake always finds it’s way in….)
You may also be interested in this piece about reviewing gardens by Sara Maitland.