Best in Show – the canine stars of National Garden Scheme gardens

While Nigel and Nellie, Monty Don’s adorable golden retriever companions attract millions of viewers each week to BBC Gardeners’ World, the National Garden Scheme’s new Virtual Garden Visits initiative confirms that we are not only a nation of gardeners but also of dog lovers too. 

The short films that launched on April 8 bring glorious gardens into your living room and introduce Hebe, Troy, Fred, Morty, Gertrude, Idgie, Lottie, Jolie and Dante and a host of other canine companions, starring in supporting roles to their garden’s owners. 

Of the 3,700 gardens that were due to open in 2020, 1,793 welcome dogs making your visits perfect for you and your best friends. Although the garden gates were closed under current restrictions the National Garden Scheme will be revising and reviewing the situation in line with government advice so planning ahead and adding your perfect dog-friendly garden to your favourites could help you get ahead of the game! Look out for the little dog symbol when searching for a garden either online or in the 2021 Garden Visitor’s Handbook.

Griselda gardening with her helper, Hebe

Name: Hebe 
Breed: West Highland Terrier 
Age: 12
Under gardening role: She is completely attached to her owner Griselda Kerr and sits wherever she is gardening. “She usually sits exactly where I want to plant something or dig out a weed. As a puppy her greatest amusement was to pull out flower labels and bring them to me.  I had her mother before her and her grandmother before that.
Currently starring in: Now’s the time to plant out your sweet peas  VIEW HERE 


Fred showing off his best side at Mulberry House

Name: Fred
Breed: Labrador retriever 
Age: 11
Under gardening role: Master of picking blackberries from the bushFavourite hobbies – sunbathing and eating. 
Currently starring in: Creating a springtime display with owner Tina Barber VIEW HERE 


Sarah with Troy, who gave her the confidence to produce the virtual visit to Riverhill

Name: Troy
Breed: Labrador 
Age: 7
Under gardening role: Incredibly loyal, Troy provided vital support and gave confidence to owner Sarah for her latest film. “If he likes you, you have a friend for life. He adores one of our ticket office volunteers and spends every Thursday in the office glued to her side. I try not to be jealous,” says Sarah. 
Mainly to be found: Outside the café at closing time hoovering crumbs. 
Currently starring in: Explore Riverhill Himalayan Gardens VIEW HERE


“We love her more than gardening” Jude and Sue with Idgie

Name: Idgie (after the character Idgie Threadgood in the film ’Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe’)
Breed: Staffordshire Bull Terrier / Spring Spaniel cross
Age: 3 (but as a rescue not sure)
Under gardening role: Owners Jude and Sue say: “Idgie really likes having a garden to hare around in and especially likes to hunt for her dinner which we hide up trees, behind pots and under leaves. Her special skill in the garden is playing football. She can spend hours chasing after the football and can now use her front paws like hands to catch the ball as well as her mouth. She also enjoys hiding her toys and sunbathing stretched out on the slate path warmed by the sun. We love her more than gardening.”
Currently starring in: Explore The Rock House VIEW HERE


Gertie and Morty ready for a swim and some frisbee fun

Names: Gertie (Gertrude) and Morty (Moritmer)  
Breed: Black labradollies (or Boradors
Age: Morty 2, Gertie 7
Under gardening role: Both wonderfully affectionate and well-behaved dogs, they love swimming while Morty has a frisbee obsession.
Currently starring in: Explore Woodlands Farm VIEW HERE


Garden rescues front to back, Lottie, Jolie and Dante

Names: Jolie, Lottie and Dante
Breed: Mixed – all Romanian rescues
Age: Jolie 7, Lottie 5 and Dante between 7-9
Under gardening role: Jolie was found on the street with severe injuries to her rear end, presumably having been hit by a car. She had to have a number of operations, which have left her without a tail and with a walk like Marilyn Monroe – serious hip swing!  It doesn’t stop her running though, and she’s always chasing squirrels and birds. The fact that they’re completely out of her reach doesn’t deter her!
Lottie is the sweetest, gentlest little soul you could wish to meet. She loves to play chase, and is always running around the garden, using the borders like an obstacle course. She smiles when she’s happy and loves sleeping on the garden tables. 
Dante is the newcomer, he’s probably somewhere between 7 and 9, and has spent his life on the streets. He’s a funny, happy, cheeky little lad, and a real mummy’s boy. He steals everything he finds lying around – shoes, socks, laundry from the basket, coasters – and they all have to be retrieved from his bed. He’s adapted to family life so well“They all enjoy the freedom of the garden, and love to keep me company while I’m working outside,” says owner Annie Frost.
Rescue centres involved: Save and Care (Romania) Love Underdogs
Currently starring in: Explore Gorsty House VIEW HERE and Maintaining Wonderfully Wild Daffodils VIEW HERE

Look out for more important under gardeners as we continue our Virtual Garden Visits and gardening tutorials during the current Coronavirus crisis. For a list of dog-friendly gardens click here

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