The National Garden Scheme by Martyn Cox

Annually, throughout the country, gardens are opened for the National Garden Scheme, this year 150, all featured in “The yellow Book”, in Hampshire alone. Mainly privately owned, remarkably varied in size and design, they have quality, character and interest in common. Money raised through the scheme funds a number of nursing charities.

Our speaker on April 20th was Martyn Cox, a horticulturalist with 30 years professional experience, a regular gardening columnist and book writer. In his talk he relayed his experiences creating a garden that he subsequently opened for the NGS. A small South-facing but neglected space in London was entirely changed and transformed. He created structure, with a new patio, painted fences, a wall, a curved path through a lawn, a greenhouse and a small pond. Planting in every space available followed. A few favourites: Phyllostachys Nigra (bamboo); Euphorbia mellifera; Stylophorum lasiocarpum; Begonia grandis subsp. Evansiana. He also planted edibles; Apricot “Flavorcot”; Redcurrant “Roveda”; Ficus Brunswick; Tomatillo; Courgette “Black Forest’ (the first climbing courgette), all of these in pots.”Black Hamburgh” grapevine from “The Great Vine” at Hampton Court.

At the end of six years, when he had filled the garden, “now an oasis”, he applied to the NGS, whose inspector approved it, and prepared for the opening. Having “spread the word” he received so many visitors on the day that he raised £640 for charity. It appeared in magazines and even a film crew from Japan, making a documentary on NGS gardens came along later.

This was a successful project, inspired by Martyn’s knowledge, energy and enthusiasm.