NGS Annual Lecture – Gardens are for people

The National Garden Scheme (NGS) is supporting the importance of World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2020, with its theme ‘mental health for all’. The gardening charity has long recognised the importance of gardens for our physical and mental wellbeing through its Gardens and Health Initiative and uniquely positioned to provide affordable access to over 3,500 gardens of quality and interest.

The National Garden Scheme’s ongoing mission is to continue to demonstrate and raise awareness of, the huge benefits a visit to a garden can provide for mental health.

The NGS Annual Lecture this year will take the theme: Gardens are for People, and will be presented by Tom and Sue Stuart-Smith, (pictured left) online on 11th November, 2020 at 7pm.

One of the most internationally distinguished and influential couples in the world of gardens and horticulture, universally renowned garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith and his wife Sue, a leading psychiatrist and psychotherapist, will come together to share their fascinating story of gardens and wellbeing.

National Garden Scheme CEO, George Plumptre, points out that the challenges presented to people across the world during the Covid-19 pandemic have brought mental health to the fore: “Enforced and prolonged isolation, restrictions on meeting friends and family and lack of access to outdoor green space has impacted on many and, even though National Garden Scheme gardens were forced to close during lockdown, we continued to champion and share our gardens as places of rest, relaxation and recovery through a unique programme of virtual garden visits,” he says.

The success of the online garden tours on the NGS website has been supported by feedback left by viewers – and those who were filmed in their gardens – and reinforces the charity’s view that even a virtual visit to a garden could be good for your mental health.

The charity received stories of families viewing the gardens from different parts of the UK – and the world – and then coming together by phone, facetime or zoom to discuss what they had seen. People who were housebound, unwell, shielding or isolated looked forward to the weekly film releases which gave hope and solace to many who found them uplifting.

Anecdotally, we knew that gardens (real and virtual) were playing a significant and important role in people’s lives during lockdown but to back this up we conducted an online survey into the importance of our gardens and outdoor spaces during lockdown. Over 2,400 people responded, the results of which were combined with our garden owners’ testimony to create our Gardens and Coronavirus 2020 report. The report clearly confirmed our own belief that the power of gardens to do good has never been more important,” adds George Plumptre.

There are excellent films and case studies on the NGS website at:

Information and tickets for the online Annual Lecture can be found at:

Image banner above: The Barn, the garden of Tom and Sue Stuart-Smith.