Gardens and Volunteering
22 May 2023 | Matthew Bradby, QNI's Head of Communications
Matthew Bradby writes about opening his garden in London for the National Garden Scheme.
Opening my garden again for the first time since the pandemic felt like quite a big decision. But it gave me a focus and a goal through the winter months, an extra reason to get outside with hat, coat, boots and gloves on.
Then suddenly it was May and spring had sprung, albeit a fairly cold and cloudy one. Persistent rain meant little watering was needed and the garden was looking lush.
I planned to sell teas and cakes, and plants – only possible if you have volunteers to help and I was very lucky to have Aga, Hanna and Louise from the QNI, my father Hugh and sister Alison. I had some very kind donations of homemade cakes from Alison, friends and neighbours.
On the day, the sun didn’t shine but at least it didn’t rain so we were able to serve the teas and cakes outside as planned, while Dad sold plants from the greenhouse at the top of the garden.
I was also reminded how rewarding voluntary work can be, connecting you with other people in a positive way. One guy I’d never met before suggested making tea from the lemon balm growing in the garden, so we did, and it was delicious.Matthew Bradby
I’d forgotten how much fun it is to welcome people to your garden and a morale boost to hear their positive comments. Some visitors were close friends and neighbours, but others I had never met before. It was lovely to see Crystal and Helen, colleagues from the QNI, and my aunt who haven’t seen since before the pandemic. A real reunion.
I was also reminded how rewarding voluntary work can be, connecting you with other people in a positive way. One guy I’d never met before suggested making tea from the lemon balm growing in the garden, so we did, and it was delicious.
If you want to get involved with the National Garden Scheme there are a number of ways to do it. If you have a garden you think you could open, they’ll be glad to hear from you. There are other things you can do, like volunteer at a friend’s garden, or organise a tea party as a fundraiser – it only need be a small private event. It’s a good excuse to get that tea set out of the cupboard and make some cake. And you’ll be raising money for nursing and caring charities, which has never been more needed.