Thinking of hosting a Great British Garden Party – “Just do it!” say Penny and Bob

Penny and Bob from Gloucestershire were one of the first couples to host a National Garden Scheme Great British Garden Party on Sunday 23rd August. Here, they share what motivated them, why they chose the date and give their top tips for a successful event.

Our motivation:

Our garden was extremely important to us during lockdown – we felt so privileged to live in the country and have our own outdoor space – and The Great British Garden Party was the perfect opportunity to celebrate everything good about the National Garden Scheme and the causes it supports.


We hosted our Great British Garden Party on Sunday 23rd August – we will be away visiting family in September and so decided to host the party while our garden was looking its best. 

Planning to incorporate the current government guidelines:

Because of the current situation and government guidelines around social distancing we decided to host our party over a series of 1-hour slots throughout the day with a maximum of 4 guests, plus my husband and I, at any one time.  It was easy and worked well. We used plastic tablecloths and also laid individual trays with tea and coffee for each couple so that we didn’t have multiple people handling the crockery or cakes. Everyone felt comfortable. 

Our guests:

We sent out invitations two weeks in advance of the date giving people options to RSVP for a particular time slot. Not everyone responded but we welcomed 11 guests on the day. Everyone was from our local community and enjoyed the opportunity to see each other and have a chat. One couple were a little older and have been very nervous about socialising – I think it helped them – the opportunity to see a small number of other people in a safe outdoor environment, to be out and about again. 

We did walk people around the garden and had one particular friend who was knowledgeable about plants which was quite a bonus to other guests who shared that time slot. But it was the chatting to one another that people really enjoyed. 

What we served:

We had tea, coffee and homemade cake and biscuits. I made biscuits and the Chocolate and Courgette Cake recipe from the National Garden Scheme website which was quite a stunner and a friend also made a cake. 


How we raised funds:

We raised around £150 – some donated on the day and others made very generous donations direct to the National Garden Scheme JustGiving website. We did not have any prices or charges for anything, it was all on a donations basis. In addition to the teas and cakes we also laid out homemade jams and chutneys as well as fruit from the garden which visitors could help themselves to for a donation.  

Our top tip to anyone else considering hosting a Great British Garden Party:

Enjoy it. And for anyone hesitating, just do it. It is as much about seeing other people as the garden and we have had some lovely emails from people after the event telling us how much they enjoyed it. The money raised is for such a good cause.

For more information about hosting a safe, socially distanced garden party read our guide here


Don’t miss a thing

Sign up to hear more about gardens, events and our
activities throughout the year

By completing this form, you confirm that you are aged 18 years or over and that you are happy to receive emails from the National Garden Scheme in accordance with our Privacy Policy. We will never share your details with anyone else without your express permission.



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