This week, Jon Cruddas MP’s team had the pleasure of meeting with Dagenham resident, horticultural enthusiast and charity volunteer, John Seaman. John is part of the National Garden Scheme in Essex. The scheme gives visitors access to over 3500 exceptional private gardens in England and Wales. 100 of these gardens are in Essex. The scheme raises impressive amounts of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas, and cake. The scheme has been running for 90 years.

John’s Exotic Garden

John explained he has always had a passion for horticulture and would describe himself as a “plant man”. When asking John what advice he would give to new gardeners who have potential to join the scheme he said: “Just go for it! If you have a passion for gardening and enthusiasm, it could really help others and be an enjoyable experience”.

Although the gardens do require maintenance and dedication, John explained that this can all be done on a budget. He regularly engages in “plant swaps” with other gardeners and buys seeds to grow the plants from seedlings.

John has a number of impressive plants in his garden. Including exotic flowers, bananas, and ginger. He said his exotic garden has the ability to make individuals feel like they have been transported thousands of miles away. Fresh air, a hobby and beautiful surroundings are just some of the mental and physical benefits this scheme has to offer.

Charity begins in the garden!

The National Gardening Scheme is hugely successful in their endeavour to raise money for charity. This has been particularly important in the last two years, with the challenges Covid-19 has bought. The generosity of Essex garden owners, volunteers and visitors means the scheme was able to raise over £39,000 in 2020. This total is added to a national pot and distributed to Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, Carer’s Trust, The Queen’s Nursing Institute, Parkinson’s UK, Perennial and Guest Charity Mind.

How to get involved

If you would like to visit John’s garden in Dagenham or get involved with the National Gardening Scheme, all information can be found on the Nation Gardening Scheme’s website at: 2021 gardens open for private group visits - National Garden Scheme in Essex (essexngs.co.uk).