The National Garden Scheme opens privately owned gardens in England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and the Channel Islands on selected dates for charity. It was founded in 1927 with the aim of "opening gardens of quality, character and interest to the public for charity". The scheme has raised over £60 million since it began, and normally opens thousands of gardens a year.
County organisers are responsible for vetting gardens to make sure they are of sufficient interest. When the scheme began 609 private gardens were opened and £8,191 was raised. A small number of the original "pioneer" gardens still participate in the Scheme, while many more have joined. Over 3,700 gardens were due to open in 2020 but the impact of COVID-19 meant that most openings were cancelled. However, new online virtual garden tours were introduced. Visitor information is published in a publication called The Garden Visitor's Handbook (formerly the Yellow Book). There is another Yellow Book for the separate Scotland's Gardens scheme.
Originally the admission fees raised money for district nurses, although the creation of the National Health Service in 1948 changed the nature of the support required. In 1980, the National Garden Scheme Charitable Trust was launched as an independent charity with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as patron. The current patron is Charles, Prince of Wales. The Queen's Nursing Institute is still one of the charities supported, along with Perennial, Macmillan Cancer Support and others.
- "Yellow Book" (2008). National Gardens Scheme.
- Follow the yellow guide road to great British gardens: Private gardens open for charity under the National Gardens Scheme and Scotland's Gardens Scheme.(Features)(Homefront). The Christian Science Monitor. 2002. Retrieved via HighBeam Research (subscription required. (18 March 2013).
- "Virtual garden visits".
- 2008 annual report Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- The Yellow Book, 2014: ngs gardens open for charity. London: National Gardens Scheme