ISSUE 10, July 2004
John Pine: A sociable craftsman
Jumping for Joy: Skydiving for charity
Quarterly Communication: Speeches of: the Grand Master, the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Address of the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
Royal Arch: Cheshire gives a lead
  Walking with the greats: Bath Masonic Hall
Motoring in style: Classic Vehicle Club
Masonic education: A daily advancement and Events for your diary
Travel: Portugal
Library & Museum of Freemasonry
International: A warm welcome in Malta
Masonic ritual: Spoilt for choice
Public relations: Sheffield; Dorset; Chelsea Flower Show; Freemasons' Hall
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Iris Jardine visits three different private gardens, open to the public under The National Gardens Scheme, and tells you what to expect.

National Garden Scheme private gardens in Cobham (left) and (below) at Shackleford, both in Surrey
Blossoming charities
Have you ever wanted to know what other people’s gardens are like, particularly some of your neighbours? Under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), you can visit 3,500 of them and at the same time support several worthwhile charities.
     The gardens, except in a few cases, are usually only open to the public one or two days a year. With some, you can also visit on non-opening days by appointment. I visited three in London – a college garden; the official open day for a private garden; and a private visit.
     The first, Regent’s College Botany Garden, is based in the Inner Circle of Regents Park, and is known as a secret garden. Belonging to the President of the College, the one and a half acres was formally used as a teaching garden, and laid out in botanical families.
     In 1980 it was relaid in the style of an English garden. It is maintained by the college’s head gardener and his team, who were on hand to answer questions, not only on the actual garden, but queries that people had about their own gardens.
     My second visit was totally different. This was a three and a half acre private garden in Mill Hill. The owners have been part of the scheme for some years and are supported by many of the local community.
     As we walked in, there was a good selection of plants for sale from the local nursery at incredibly cheap prices, and a continual queue for the home-made cakes and drinks.
     The garden has appeal for all tastes, and is tended by a full time gardener under the instruction of Penny Gluckstein. The formal grounds have several sculptures, and hidden from view when you enter is a lake with fish and a waterfall.
     Bordering the patio of the house is a herb garden, while at the back is a woodland glade. The garden is designed so that every time you turn a corner, you find something new.
     During the two-day opening the Glucksteins had 1,039 visitors, and including a donation, collected £5,600. Under the scheme, they are allowed to give part of this to a charity of their choice which, in this case, was the North London Hospice.
     My last visit was to a neighbour in St. John’s Wood. When the family first moved to the house 16 years ago, the garden was completely neglected. The Kathurias had it landscaped, but for the last six years Gerlinde Kathuria has been tendering it herself.
     She is enormously proud of her work and has won many cups. This year, their garden was featured on ITV’s Britain’s Best Back Gardens. There are lots of evergreens and shrubs, with groupings of colours, and she has made it look pleasing all the year round.
     “The benefit of coming to see a private garden is that you can see what other people do, and then go home and do it yourself ”, says Gerlinde.
     “You go somewhere like the Chelsea Flower show and see gardens, but if you followed what they did, the flowers may die, as it is just done for the show. For example, the display may have flowers under trees that would never normally grow in the shade”.
     The National Gardens Scheme was started in 1927 and supports 11 charities including cancer, nurses, carers and the hospice movement as well as those chosen by the people who open their gardens.

All photographs: Nicola Stocken Tomkins

Gardens of England and Wales Open for Charity (known as the Yellow Book) is available from all major bookshops, price £5.99 or direct through the NGS website for £7.99 (including p&p).