Home Gardening news Scotland’s Gardens Scheme starts to reopen after lockdown

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme starts to reopen after lockdown

Pitmuies Gardens, Angus and Dundee. Picture; SGS
Pitmuies Gardens, Angus and Dundee. Picture; SGS

New national organiser to lead vital fundraising work

More than 80 gardens will open their gates for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme to raise funds for charity this summer, thanks to a change in guidance from the Scottish Government.

The news comes as the open garden charity appoints a new national organiser, Liz Stewart, to head up its fundraising work.

Gardens now have special Covid-19 safety measures in place:

  • Visitors are encouraged to stagger their arrival time
  • Bring exact change
  • Maintain safe social distancing at all times
  • Check a garden’s specific entry requirements on Scotland’s Gardens Scheme website before setting out.
Liz Stewart. Picture; SGS
Liz Stewart. Picture; SGS

Diverse gardens

Participating gardens include Dalswinton Mill near Dumfries, a newly-created plantsman’s garden set around an 18th-century watermill; Pitmuies Gardens near Forfar, two renowned semi-formal walled gardens; and Shepherd House near Musselburgh, a constantly-evolving artist’s garden with a shell house, lavender parterres, fountains and sculpture.

More gardens are likely to reopen and many have contributed virtual tours with more than 100 available to view via the charity’s website and YouTube.

New national organiser Liz Stewart joins from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), where she was development manager for Scotland. She was part of the RHS’s national development team for community activities and led the Greening Great Britain scheme.

Beautiful Scotland judge

Liz has also been a Beautiful Scotland judge for the past five years, volunteering for Keep Scotland Beautiful. She takes up the reins from Terrill Dobson, who will still be involved with the charity at a regional level as a volunteer district organiser.

She said: “I’m tremendously excited to be joining Scotland’s Gardens Scheme to support the work of such a strong, committed and inspiring community of volunteers.

“With 2020 being the most challenging of years, gardening has become a solace and inspiration to many and the importance of gardens to our wellbeing has never been greater.”

Shepherd House, East Lothian. Picture Ann Fraser
Shepherd House, East Lothian. Picture Ann Fraser

Commitment to donations

Scotland Gardens Scheme’s income has been badly hit by the closures caused by the pandemic, but the charity trustees will honour a commitment to make annual donations to its three core beneficiaries, paying £14,000 each to Perennial, the only UK charity for people working in horticulture; The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) and Maggie’s.

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme’s 2019 annual report highlights that last year, Garden Openers gave £193,219 to 235 nominated charities, as well as supporting its three main beneficiaries (£42,000), its guest charity Trellis Scotland (£5,000) and a training grant to the National Trust of Scotland (£7,500), totalling donations of £247,719.

2019 highlights included:

  • 500 garden opening events, including 71 new gardens
  • About 200 district volunteers organised, delivered, promoted and photographed garden openings, supported by four staff and many other volunteers
  • Nearly £250,000 donated to both national and local charities, from grassroots community gardens, community centres, hall and churches; those supporting mental wellbeing, medical research and support charities; supporting children, families and vulnerable adults; animal charities, and arts and heritage.

For dates and a full list of gardens, visit scotlandsgardens.org.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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