Yesterday morning we took the difficult decision to ask all our garden owners not to open their gardens until further notice. Events moved extremely rapidly over the weekend. Large crowds at National Trust and RHS gardens, and at Kew, made those organisations realise they were not able to control social distancing. We were most concerned that we could see this happening at our gardens. So, after discussion with the charity’s Executive Committee, we put out the announcement that you may have already seen.
This was a painful decision but, particularly in the light of the further Government announcements yesterday evening, we are convinced that it was the right one in the current circumstances. To reiterate: we are asking all gardens to stop opening, whether they have a set open day, open by arrangement, or by pre-paid tickets. This also includes those gardens which open for themselves but generously give us one or more days or a donation. These gardens might chose to continue opening for themselves, but we do not advise that.
As you know we pay for expensive comprehensive public liability insurance to support you with your garden openings. We have now suspended this until further notice in order to conserve the National Garden Scheme's financial position. As from today I regret that there will be no insurance cover for garden openings. Obviously, it will be reinstated as and when we are able to start opening again.
These are very challenging times for us all and I am sure you would all agree that we must now act in the interest of the whole nation even when that may not be best for the National Garden Scheme – or indeed for our visitors who, I know, would have been queuing up to visit yesterday on a sunny Mothering Sunday.
We know that at some point in the future, our gardens will open again to give solace, comfort and enjoyment to hundreds of thousands of visitors while raising substantial funds for our nursing and health charities. Let us all look forward to that time and in the meantime, thank you for your wonderful support.
Best wishes to you all and do please contact me if you have any queries. I will be in touch with a further update later this week or early next.
Chief Executive, National Garden Scheme