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NGS Festival Weekend

PUBLISHED: 13:21 15 May 2014

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Celebrities and the public share what gardens mean to them ahead of this year's National Festival Weekend

The enjoyment of gardens is as much a part of our national identity as standing in queues and talking about the weather. Rural or urban, modern or traditional, our gardens come in all shapes and sizes and ignite a host of emotions, memories and special meanings. From planting seeds for the first time with grandparents, to a surprise romantic proposal or birthday bash, gardens often provide the background for life’s feel-good moments.

In the run-up to the country’s biggest celebration of gardens – this year’s Festival Weekend on

7-8 June – event organisers the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) are calling on us to share what gardens mean to us. Do they inspire or de-stress, or provide a place for solitude and reflection? Perhaps your garden or a garden you have visited has a special meaning?

Share your garden stories, memories and images with #gardenshare

A host of celebrities are backing the drive to get the nation outside and enjoying the feel-good benefits of gardens, by sharing what gardens mean to them:

Actress and Parkinson’s UK President, Jane Asher says: “My grandmother had a large weeping willow in her garden in Essex, with a tap right in the middle of the exciting, gloomy tent created by the drooping branches. I remember the lovely feeling of the wet, muddy, squishy grass on my bare feet when I pushed my way in to fill a tiny tin teapot with ‘tea’ from the tap. And in my mind’s eye, as I emerge to fill up the little cups and saucers for my patiently waiting dolls and teddies, the lawn is perfect, the garden is enormous and the sun always shining. However misremembered, those occasional visits when I was very young gave me a love of being in an English garden that has stayed with me to this day”.

Carers Trust Vice-President, Hilary Devey CBE says: “I love my garden because it is such a badly-behaved, independent, undisciplined thing. We British love our gardens because they provide an opportunity for socially-acceptable violence: the pruning, weeding and trimming being an aggressive, yet rewarding, way to release our accumulated stress. On those precious few days when the sun is shining and my garden is perfect, I can sit outside and read a book and feel the cares of the world just dissolve away. Then I spot a cheeky weed poking its head out of a flower bed, I reach for a trowel and the very British battle begins all over again.”

For NGS Chief Executive, George Plumptre, visiting an NGS garden during 7-8 June will mean having a great day out while raising vital funds for nursing and caring charities: “Looking round an interesting garden has to be one of the most enjoyable ways of raising money for charity. From a grand country estate, to a hidden oasis at the back of a suburban semi or a row of urban terraces, there’s a Festival Weekend garden to suit all tastes. This year, the money raised through Festival garden admissions will help our beneficiary charities support nurses and carers across the UK as well as people with terminal illness, cancer and Parkinson’s Disease.”

Thanks to the hard work of garden owners and volunteers, and the enduring enthusiasm of thousands of visitors, the NGS has donated just over £20million to nursing and caring charities over the past 10 years, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Carers Trust, Help the Hospices and Parkinson’s UK.

Gardens open in Somerset over the Festival Weekend include the following:

Ashcott Gardens (Group)

Glebe Court (New)

Little Garth

Vellacott

·Admission prices The average adult admission to a Festival Weekend garden is just £4 and many gardens are offering free entry for children. Visit www.ngs.org.uk and use the online ‘garden search’ tool to find an NGS garden open near you.

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