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Gates reopening to raise funds for Scotland's Gardens Scheme

Over 80 garden openings will take place for Scotlandís Gardens Scheme to raise funds for charity this summer, thanks to a change in guidance from the Scottish Government. The news comes as the open garden charity appoints a new National Organiser, Liz Stewart, to head up its vital fundraising work.

Gardens of all shapes and sizes across the country, which until now have been closed to visitors, are welcoming the public back into their green open spaces, for the charity, with special Covid-19 safety measures in place. Visitors are encouraged to stagger their arrival time, bring exact change, maintain safe social distancing at all times, and to check a gardenís specific entry requirements on the Scotlandís Gardens Scheme website before setting out.

Participating gardens include Dalswinton Mill near Dumfries, a newly-created plantsmanís garden set around an 18th century watermill; Pitmuies Gardens near Forfar, two renowned semi-formal walled gardens; and Shepherd House near Musselburgh, a constantly-evolving artistís garden with a shell house, lavender parterres, fountains and sculpture. More gardens are likely to reopen as the summer progresses. Many have also contributed eye-catching virtual tours with over 100 now available to view via the charityís website and YouTube channel.

The reopening news comes as Scotlandís Gardens Scheme announces the appointment of a new National Organiser to head up the charity. Liz Stewart joins from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), where she was Development Manager for Scotland. She was part of the RHSís national development team for community activities and led the charityís UK-wide Greening Great Britain scheme. Liz has also been a Beautiful Scotland judge for the past five years, volunteering for Keep Scotland Beautiful. She takes up the reins from Terrill Dobson, who ran Scotlandís Gardens Scheme for five years and who will still be involved with the charity at a regional level as a volunteer District Organiser.

ďIím tremendously excited to be joining Scotlandís Gardens Scheme to support the work of such a strong, committed and inspiring community of volunteers. With 2020 being the most challenging of years, gardening has become a solace and inspiration to many and the importance of gardens to our wellbeing has never been greater,Ē said Liz Stewart.

Although, like many charities, Scotland Gardens Schemeís income has been badly hit by the closures caused by the pandemic, the charity Trustees will honour a commitment to make annual donations to the charityís three core beneficiaries, paying £14,000 each to Perennial, the only UK charity for people working in horticulture; The Queenís Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) and Maggieís this summer.

The charityís recently published 2019 annual report highlights that last year, Scotlandís Gardens Scheme enabled Garden Openers to support their own choice of charities, giving £193,219 to 235 nominated charities, as well as supporting its three main beneficiaries (£42,000), its guest charity Trellis Scotland (£5,000) and a training grant to the National Trust of Scotland (£7,500), totalling donations of £247,719 made to charity.

Funds were raised through the hard work and dedication of the SGS community of volunteers with 2019 highlights including:

* 500 garden opening events including 71 gardens new to the scheme

* around 200 District Volunteers organised, delivered, promoted and photographed garden openings, supported by four staff and many other volunteers who provided help with events and publicity

* nearly £250,000 donated to a broad range of charities, including both national and local charities, representing many different causes; from grassroots community gardens, local community centres, hall and churches; mental wellbeing charities; medical research and support charities; supporting children, families and vulnerable adults; animal charities, and arts and heritage.

David Mitchell, Chairman of Scotlandís Gardens Scheme, said: ďThe re-opening of gardens has been successful for all concerned so far and we are grateful that so many of our Garden Openers have been willing to do so. Not only are the funds raised of great importance in supporting such a wide range of charitable causes, but the enjoyment given to so many people through opening gardens, to both visitors and volunteers, is as important to our community as the fundraising itself, especially at this challenging time. We breathe life into gardens and gardens breathe life into ourselves. Come and visit us.Ē

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This story was published on: 31/07/2020

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