The National Garden Scheme has supported the QNI since 1927 and is our single biggest funder.

We are enormously grateful to the National Garden Scheme, which donated £425,000 to the QNI in 2023. The funding is essential to all our work supporting community nurses. This supports several networks and a wide range of activities of our charity, including:

Get Involved

If you want to support us, visit a garden in 2024! Plan your visit using the National Garden Scheme website or buy your copy of the Garden Visitor’s Handbook.

You can also take a virtual garden tour here and support the National Garden Scheme at any time:


In 1926, QNI Council Member Elsie Wagg came up with the idea to raise funds for the QNI by opening private gardens to the public. In June 1927, 349 private gardens opened, including Sandringham and Blenheim Palace. Members of the public paid one shilling each to enter. The scheme was so successful it continued into September, by which time over six hundred gardens had opened and over £8000 raised.

In the following years, a network of county organisers was established to encourage and support garden owners to open their gardens annually. As well as the Royal Family, the Royal Horticultural Society, Country Life magazine, the BBC and the AA were all early supporters. By 1930 the number of gardens opened reached 900 and Sir Winston Churchill and Vita Sackville-West were among those who opened famous private gardens to the public.

In 1948 the NHS came into being, but nursing in the community still relied on funds raised by the open garden scheme. In 1980 the National Garden Scheme became an independent charity funding a whole range of nursing and health charities, community gardens, and other causes.

A growing role

Over 3500 gardens now open annually and in 2023, over £4m was raised. As well as the QNI, other beneficiary charities include Macmillan, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, Parkinsons UK, Carers Trust, Horatio’s Garden – a full list of the beneficiaries is here.

In 2021, The QNI and the National Garden Scheme created a new scholarship programme, the NGS Elsie Wagg (Innovation) Scholarship. The Scholarship is open to any nurse working in the community and is a unique opportunity to use gardens to improve the health of people you care for.

In 2024, the National Garden Scheme will have a major show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. You can follow this exciting story as it unfolds on the NGS website.

The Great British Garden Party

You can join in by hosting a Great British Garden Party to raise funds for health and nursing charities – including the QNI.

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