Gardens starting to reopen

The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen garden closures, nursery closures, show cancellations and restrictions throughout the UK since March 2020.

However, there is some good news in that nurseries and garden centres are now starting to re-open in England and both the National Trust and the National Garden Scheme have announced that gardens will now start to re-open (as of 3rd June 2020) in England. For individual arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland please check the current situation for each venue.

The National Garden Scheme, in order to comply with social distancing and other Government guidelines, will open in a system of pre-purchased tickets for a timed slot at the visitor’s garden of choice. Tickets must be purchased via the National Garden Scheme website. Numbers of visitors per timed slot will vary from garden to garden, depending on size.

Gardens will not offer teas or other refreshments but at gardens where there is sufficient space, people will be allowed to bring their own picnics. All buildings will be closed and access to toilets will only be provided in an emergency and so long as it does not involve access to a house.

George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme comments: “We are delighted that we are able to open the gates of some of our gardens in England and welcome people. Right now our gardens are blossoming into their midsummer glories and so it is wonderful that our garden owners can share them with visitors.”

The NGS website now has a number of virtual visits, giving a taste of what visitors can expect and enjoy and for those of us who may be shielding, enables us to see some of these wonderful gardens from the comfort of our own homes.

The National Trust have started re-opening the first of their gardens and parklands in England and Northern Ireland. To open safely they have also introduced an advanced booking system. You can visit the National Trust website to find out what is open and to check availability and to book your visit here.

Sadly, the rescheduled RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, supported by Viking, due to take place in September 2020, has had to be cancelled due to the uncertainty about events amid the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The Royal Horticultural Society have also cancelled their flower shows at RHS Rosemoor, RHS Wisley and RHS Hyde Hall all due in September as well as RHS Tatton Park in August.

The four RHS Gardens at Hyde Hall, Wisley, Rosemoor and Harlow Carr are now open to visitors with advance bookings only. Time slots can be booked via the RHS website.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, says: “We had so hoped that we could hold our much loved RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival this autumn for our members, visitors, exhibitors and sponsors, but sadly in these challenging times this is just not possible.
“We are pleased that our Virtual Chelsea online show did so much in terms of bringing some horticultural joy to the nation, as well as supporting the horticulture industry and we continue to support our nurseries through the Garden Magazine and online during this time.”

Everyone who has purchased a ticket to the affected shows will be contacted by the RHS and offered 2021 show dates, refunds and other options should they wish to show their support of the RHS.

Sue finishes: “We continue to carefully follow Government advice and make responsible decisions with the health and safety of people always at the front of our minds.

It goes without saying that visits to shows, nurseries and gardens are an important part of our life and support our mental health and wellbeing and we will all look forward to next year when we can hopefully visit our favourite shows once again. In the meantime, our best wishes to all those gardens and nurseries opening to visitors for the first time since lockdown.

PLEASE NOTE THAT BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL FOR VISITS TO THE GARDENS MENTIONED, YOU CANNOT VISIT WITHOUT PRE-BOOKING A DAY AND TIME SLOT.Always check information with the venue before planning a visit as government advice may vary in different parts of the UK.

Picture credits: banner – National Trust Sizergh, middle – Sissinghurst ©Reckless Gardener.