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Winning garden visits

Joe Swift | 15:52 UK time, Friday, 6 February 2009

I've had a busy couple of days helping to launch the 2009 Yellow Book for the National Garden Scheme (NGS). I do hope you've all heard of it, but it sometimes worries me how many haven't.

It may still be one of Britain's best kept secrets so help me spread the word. This is how it works: people open their private gardens to the public who pay a small amount of money to look around. After snooping around, getting ideas and talking to like-minded folk, the visitors then buy a cup of tea and slice of cake (this is very important and some say the best bit!My favourite's lemon drizzle). There may be some plants on sale too and most of the proceeds raised (at least 80p in the pound) go to charity.
I see it as a win, win, win situation. The garden owner gets some satisfaction by letting others in to experience their garden (not in a show off way, but in an unselfish 'I-don't-just-do-all-this-work-just-for-myself-and-it'd-be-nice-for-others-to-see-it' kind of way). The visitors have a good morning or afternoon out for a few quid (extremely good value and hopefully it's recession proof), and ultimately  everyone's doing the right thing by raising money for charity. Win, Win, Win! Brilliant.
There are gardens of all types and sizes, urban, suburban and rural totalling 3,600 with 600 new ones this year, and I'm pleased to say there are more and more community gardens and allotments too. Over the year all those £2 and £3 really add up - in fact in the last 10 years over £2.5 million has been raised. You can find out more on thehttp://www.ngs.org.uk website and start planning your gardening year nice and early.

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