A Brief History of Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts

On 30 June 2013 the owners of four private gardens in the département of La Creuse opened their gardens to the public with the object of donating the money raised to charitable causes. This initiative was inspired partly from the work of the National Gardens Scheme in England, established in the late 1920s.

These openings raised 300€, most of which was donated to the association À Chacun Son Everest, which actively supports children and young people in remission from leukaemia and other forms of cancer. Further work was undertaken to increase the number of garden openings under the leadership of Mick Moat, one of the openers. This led to the setting up of the Association Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts, with Mick Moat as its founding president.

The money raised from garden openings, donations and money-raising events grew substantially during the years 2014 to 2018, the movement spreading far beyond La Creuse. In 2016 16000€ was raised from 116 garden openings in 13 départements for 8 beneficiaries, and in 2018 25,500€ for 15 beneficiaries.  The Association became more widely known through its garden openings and presence at national, local and regional plant fairs. A particular objective was to encourage more French garden owners to take part in the scheme.

2019 proved to be a more challenging year for the Association. Mick Moat left France to live in Scotland and the Association under its new president Karen Roper had to face a number of challenges including a wet spring, a hot, dry summer and a reduction in the number of gardens which had previously opened. Nevertheless, 17500€ was raised for 7 beneficiaries and although some gardens were lost, there was a steady supply of new gardens. Throughout this time the Conseil worked hard to maintain the momentum achieved in previous years.

2020 was a year like no other, because of the COVID19 Pandemic. The Conseil took the decision that no formal garden opening could take place during the main garden season. Despite this, the Association was able to make donations totalling 3000€ to 7 beneficiaries. This brings the total money raised for beneficiaries since the Association was founded to 96050€. During the year much work has been done towards developing a new website and updating publicity materials for the coming season.