George Plumptre, Chief Executive of National Gardens Scheme, shares some favourite sites.

George Plumptre is Chief Executive of the National Gardens Scheme, a charity which raises millions of pounds annually to donate to major health and wellbeing charities. Giving away more than £2 million a year, the scheme is the largest single benefactor for most of its main beneficiaries including Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

George has spent much of his career steeped in gardens – he has written more than ten books, and done stints as a journalist included being The Times gardening correspondent in the 1990s. A few years later he was at the cutting edge of the internet revolution when he launched one of the most ambitious new gardening websites, He has also enjoyed a successful career focusing on his other passion – art – working for many years at first Sotheby’s and subsequently at Bonhams.

The Gardens of England: Treasures of the National Gardens Scheme edited by George Plumptre and with a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales and a preface by Joe Swift (Merrell, £24.95) is out now.


Goodnestone Park Gardens - I have to start with the website for the garden of my family home, the place which gave me my love of gardens and showed me at first hand how much hard work is needed to make a really top garden. The website takes a fascinating virtual tour of these beautiful and historic gardens.

Abbott and Holder - A picture dealer with galleries in a four-storey house in Museum Street, London opposite the British Museum, which I have been going to for thirty years. They have a wonderful selection of affordable pictures, a constant turnover of special exhibitions that open with a welcoming drinks party, and a great array of one of my passions, Modern British pictures. This website enables me to keep up with all the latest sales news and events.

SA Wines Online - There are not many types of shop or web-shop that I am happy to spend too long in, the exception being those that sell pictures, plants books and wine. Having spent two years working for Sotheby’s in Cape Town and enjoyed regular other visits, I love South African wine and this site has the best selection available in the UK, arranged on their website so as to guarantee hours of mouth-watering browsing.

Shepherds Bookbinding - The website suggests that they are a dusty bookbinder but a quick explore reveals a treasure-trove of paper (in particular gorgeous Japanese designs and marbled paper), book design and crafts from a bygone age.

Marchants Hardy Plants - Lots of plant nursery websites are little more than a list of names online and as they are in Latin this can make for dull reading. My old friend Graham Gough, who has given us much help with planting at Goodnestone, realises that presenting the plants imaginatively brings results and I can happily browse around the pages of perennials, grasses and elegant quotes from admirers for hours on end.

So there we are, nothing more than pictures, plants, books and wine – and hours of enjoyment along the way.

21 May 2013

Read The GWG's review of The Gardens of England.