The National Gardens Scheme (NGS) has come under fire from gardening’s most outspoken critic.

Anne Wareham argued that the NGS “blighted gardens in the UK forever” when it was created 85 years ago.

Garden critic Anne Wareham

Writing in The Spectator about the NGS, which sees over 3,600 gardens open each year for charity, Anne said: “It started as a scheme to let everyone, even the hoi polloi, into posh gardens for a donation to charity. It now dominates the garden world, tainting all it touches.”

Anne said “good gardens, awful gardens and nonexistent gardens” could not be criticised because they were opening for good causes: “All may come to the party and be bathed in a rosy glow of goodwill and piety,” she wrote.

Instead of complaining about “rotten design that’s poorly executed,” visitors go to NGS gardens to eat cake, Anne quipped.

But NGS chief executive George Plumptre said that since 1927, the charity had raised over £40million, making it the single largest benefactor in the history of two good causes: Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

George said: “A few years ago, Anne decided to set herself up as the iconoclast of the gardening world. The NGS became her number one target.”

He added: “I am not concerned with Anne’s views on gardens, rather with the underlying implications of her snobbery towards those ordinary people in the NGS.”

George hit back: “Many of the thousands of modest, generous people who work tirelessly for nothing opening their gardens will be mortified that their efforts have been so vilified.

“If Anne ever requires the support of a Marie Curie nurse, or ends up in a hospice, she might think back to one of her less edifying efforts as a journalist.”

  • Tallison

    I’ve managed to grow some failry large tomato plants (3-4 ft. tall) from seeds left over from the chopping board, but they have yet to produce any tomatoes (though they did flower briefly). However, some of my colleagues have already gotten tomatoes despiet their tomato plants being much smaller (they used tomato seeds bought in packets). One of my friends told me this is because grocery tomatoes have been bred to make commercially viable tomatoes, but are not necessarily good for growing tomato plants from. Is this true?

  • Rich102,

    Having read the original article in ‘The Spectator’ my first thought was that Anne Wareham was just taking the mickey, writing a ‘controversial’ article to make a name for herself. Then, reading some of her blog postings, I realised that Anne Wareham takes this very seriously.

    I think Anne Wareham misses the point. Yes, I’m sure there are some poor quality gardens in the NGS scheme, yes I’m sure there are those who entered the scheme just for the prestige and, yes i’m sure that there are those who visit who are just looking for tea and cake.

    But, I’m also sure that the majority of visitors are those gardeners that love to look at all kinds of gardens. To see the many different things that gardeners do in their own gardens throughout the country, to look for ideas, inspiration. Her article disparages both the visitors and those who work hard to maintain their gardens.

    Anne seems to feel that gardens should have some kind of artistic statement and be viewed in that context. Although most gardeners would find that the least interesting aspect of any garden they visited.

    Anne is entitled to her opinion, it’s a shame it is expressed in such a negative fashion.

  • Trcia Edwards

    Whilst everybody is entitled to an opinion this one seems very angst ridden almost as if she has a personal axe to grind? Ok NGS hand’s up who’s upset Anne?
    Her comments seem daft to me and without merit, even so tis only an opinion which we the lovers of visiting NGS gardens can take on board or dismiss as we so chose. Personally I’m all for putting this particular pile of high smelling bile on the compost heap where it deserves to be.

  • Trcia Edwards

    Whilst everybody is entitled to an opinion this one seems very angst ridden, almost as if she has a personal axe to grind? Ok NGS hand’s up who’s upset Anne?
    Her comments seem daft to me and without merit, even so tis only an opinion which we the lovers of visiting NGS gardens can take on board or dismiss as we so chose. Personally I’m all for putting this particular pile of high smelling bile on the compost heap where it deserves to be.

  • Dee

    NGS keep Going!!!
    People like Ann Wareham need to step back from their high towers and get their wellies on and pick up a few gardening tools.
    The NGS make a lot of peoples lives worth living and provide unlimited advice and garden exposure to all ages across a wide scope of gardening issues.
    These are gardeners who work hard, and also have jobs.,
    I organise a Voluntary Gardening Club and all my members love the NGS,for the RIGHT REASONS.GARDENING!!!!!!
    NGS is for Garden Lovers who are not looking for perfection.
    So if Ann Wareham wants this i suggest she stays at home, to advise her Gardener !