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.”