Superwoman does gardening by Miranda Parsons

Sometimes I confess to being a little weary of sponsoring fun runs and half marathons and hikes up distant mountains and the like. Old cynic that I am, I feel as if I am sponsoring someone’s hobby, however worthy the charity. This is probably because I never run anywhere, believing walking, dancing and driving there to be the way forward. On the other hand, if you can’t persuade them to stop running about in that intemperate manner, then get them to sponsor your hobby, and one of mine is gardening!

Step forward the National Garden Scheme which in 2010 donated more than £2.6 million and in the last ten years over £26 million to nursing and caring charities, including Macmillan and Marie Curie and Help the Hospices. Over 3700 gardens feature in this year’s ‘Yellow Book’ with which many of you will be familiar. People open their gardens and extend a warm welcome and often tea and cake to fellow enthusiasts and members of the public who love a garden and go for inspiration for their own designing and planting, and ….(did I mention the tea and cake!)

The NGS began in 1927; with the simple idea that ordinary people would open their gardens at a shilling a head to raise money for the community nurses of the day. Even after the NHS was formed, these nurses needed support in training and in retirement. Now of course, charities such as Macmillan cancer support provide the sort of care that we hope that we and our loved ones will not need, but if the worst happens, it is a tremendous comfort to know that these dedicated carers are out there. The other purpose of the NGS, developed in partnership with the National Trust was to preserve important gardens. NGS still keeps overheads low, so most of the money raised at the garden gate goes directly to vital projects.

So, how did we get involved? My husband Alan and I are both keen gardeners. He has loved it since boyhood; I came to the passion later on. I like to think we complement each other well. I claim to be the brains behind the operation and he points out that this is not true! I will find him in the garden and say that I have ‘had an idea’ and he laughs and tells me that I have that look on my face where I go on to ask him to move the oak tree two feet to the left. As if I would ask a thing like that….. (Well I might). I am particularly interested in the design and structure of our garden and in forming year round interest and he is a plants man through and through and in charge of growing things up things and through things (I mean, how many clematis plants does one man need?) We often go around the garden gently bickering about what needs doing and about the aforesaid addiction to climbing plants, but frankly at our happiest. I always maintain that I cannot feel miserable in the garden, however hard I try.

Please don’t get the impression that we are in possession of the hanging gardens of Babylon here, just a much loved, medium sized, suburban garden in Cyncoed. To persuade Alan I took him to our local open gardens in Penylan and he could see that these gardens, ranging in size from very small, to small were nevertheless packed with design, with plants and with inspiration for others. That convinced him that our garden would do. We then had to approach the NGS to be approved and find a garden partner as when you have a smaller garden it is best to open in groups so that the public get better value for money. If any of you know other keen gardeners in Cyncoed, please let me know and I can try to persuade them to join us!

We will be providing tea and cake and attempting to part you from your charity pounds, things will be blossoming and blooming and Alan will have done all the weeding, and I promise you, no running shoes in sight.

We and our garden partners in Cyncoed are opening from 2-6pm on Sunday 15th May and Sunday 24th July this year. If you want to get in touch with me, you can email me through my website:

The National Gardens Scheme has a website where you can find gardens opening all over South Wales and beyond:


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