36 years of sharing the passion and love of their garden with others

The spirit of generosity that exemplifies the garden owners and volunteers who support the National Garden Scheme is embodied in the story of Mel and Janet Bates, who, after an extraordinary 36 years of opening their garden for the National Garden Scheme, and raising almost £30,000, are closing the gates to their wonderful garden at White Cottage & Nursery in Worcestershire.

Their last openings are on the 8th and 22nd June. Click here for details.

In Volunteers Week we asked them to share their experience …

In 1981 we moved from Yorkshire to live in a cottage in the Worcestershire countryside. It was a change from a large Georgian Vicarage but it had the advantage of a much larger garden. It was virtually a blank canvas so it has been a great adventure to turn what was virtually a field, apart from a small area near the house, into a plantsman’s  paradise.

I believe that most gardeners when they grow something beautiful or unusual want to share that with other like-minded people and so it was with us, and if as a result of sharing our garden it has also benefitted others through charities then that is a bonus. The charities that the National Garden Scheme support all do such excellent work and so it just felt like the right fit for us to support for all these years.

I remember our first open garden when we opened the gate at 2pm, we thought a coach must have arrived at the bottom of the drive, we were totally overwhelmed by the interest! Over the years we must have shown ten’s of thousands of visitors around the garden and still people come who have never been before. With more gardens in the scheme now and lots of new ones joining each year, our visitor numbers are more manageable which gives us time to enjoy a conversation with our guests.

The only downside to opening for the National Garden Scheme is keeping the garden up to a certain standard. If you only open your garden once a year then you can work hard prior to the opening, and then relax, but when you do it on a regular basis it has to be kept looking excellent all the time. However, don’t let that put you off opening, as it gives a great deal of pleasure to a great many people!

When you are in the garden whether you are weeding, planning a new area, or redesigning an area that needs a facelift or even mowing the grass, it is peaceful. You forget about other problems, you just enjoy the moment of making something look better, we find that very rewarding.

So, after our next two National Garden Scheme openings in June we are pulling up the drawbridge, we are both well into our 80’s and have decided it is time to just have time to enjoy our garden. I would say sit back and relax but a gardener can never stop just doing a little bit more.

Thank you National Garden Scheme it’s been a wonderful partnership for all these years. You have given us the opportunity to share the passion and love we have for our garden with others, and in return we are delighted that in doing so we have helped to raise much needed funds to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We wish you the best for the future, for all your gardens and gardeners and we will of course now have more time to get out and about to see the effort others are putting in to share their gardens with us.

Thank you Mel and Janet, and everyone who opens their garden or volunteers for the National Garden Scheme. We couldn’t do it without you.

You can support their last garden openings on the 8th and 22nd June Click here for details.

If you’d like to find out more about how to get involved click here


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Our donations in 2023

Donor 1
Donor 2 £450,000
Donor 3 £450,000
Donor 4 £450,000
Donor 5 £425,000
Donor 6 £350,000
Donor 7 £350,000
Donor 8
Donor 9 £100,000
Donor 10 £90,000
Donor 11 £80,000
Donor 12 £281,000
Donor 13 £260,000