Gardeners who open their plots for charity under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) face fines or prosecution if they display ‘Garden Open’ posters in public places.

Yellow Book garden visiting raises millions of pounds for charity

The NGS, which saw over 3,700 gardens open this year under its Yellow Book scheme, said local authorities are taking a tough stance against gardeners who illegally stick NGS posters to traffic lights and signposts.

NGS chairwoman Penny Snell said: “There have been nine incidents over the last few years when the NGS has been fined or threatened with prosecution.”

As a result, NGS chiefs decided not to supply A3 ‘Garden Open’ posters for 2011. However, they have since said that posters will be made available on request, following “a number of concerns from garden owners”.

Penny added: “Given that councils who decide to take a tough line will continue to do so, and to avoid further threats of fines and legal action, we must stress the importance of displaying the posters responsibly and in accordance with rules.

“These vary locally, so garden owners who order A3 posters will be responsible for any risk incurred in putting them up or taking them down.

“Technically, any posters displayed on highways are illegal, but some councils allow posters which advertise charitable events. Generally, posters may be displayed on private land where the owner’s permission has been sought.”

But one NGS garden owner, who asked not to be named, said: “This is news to me. I went around town armed with drawing pins and stuck 20 posters to fences, lamp posts and in alleyways. They didn’t get taken down until a few days after the garden opening.”

The NGS, which has donated £25million to charity over the last 10 years, is urging gardeners to get in touch with council planning departments before putting up posters.

NGS chief executive Julia Grant said A3 posters were only a “small element” of tools on offer to promote garden openings. Julia said: “We are advising garden owners of the importance of complying with local authority guidance about posters on or near roadsides.

“Unfortunately, the way this guidance is interpreted and enforced by local authorities varies, so it is difficult for us to offer any definitive guidance for garden owners to follow.”