This year I was lucky enough to be offered a press pass to Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC, Birmingham. Eek!!! The pass included access to the press preview, access to all the show gardens and award presentation on the Wednesday and, of course, the show itself. This gave me an uninterrupted, front row, first peek at these amazing show gardens and borders… And more importantly the opportunity to stalk and pester every member of the Gardeners’ world team – win!
The place was alive with apprehensive gardeners, pondering judges, high-vis jackets and journalists – with the backing track of reversing fork-lifts.
I was dashing around like Pac-Man, devouring every bit of inspiration – this became the theme of the whole event (especially in the BBC Good Food section). There was so much to see and I was on the fizz-clock. I had 1 hour before the fizz-reception and I was going to be front of the queue. It’s rude to keep booze waiting!
I was admiring these gardens from a fan’s perspective, not with the judges’ critical eyes. I was looking for enchantment, beauty and inspiration – not skill and structure. This is why my favourite garden/border was ‘Bright Britain’ by Kirsty Fletcher (below). It was bursting with all my favourite colours and looked great from every angle – I couldn’t stop taking pictures! It was a particularly windy afternoon and the taller flowers seemed to dance with each other in a trance-inducing jig. Beautiful!
Another highlight for me were the School Mealbarrows. Each of the wheelbarrows surrounding Picnic Hill were filled with edible goodies, designed to make a a tasty summer meal. As you’ll already guessed, I am so(ooooooo) passionate about anything that get’s children into the garden. We owe it to the next generation to educate them on where food comes from and how to make healthy choices. This scheme absolutely stole my heart with the illustrations and love that went into each and every barrow. Well done littlies!
Fast forward to the next day and I was at the front of the queue to get into the main halls – time to see what else this show had to offer. To my amazement it offered up Adam Frost! I caught him having a browse and I had to grab the opportunity for a chat. I cannot put into words how delightful this man is – what a diamond. I asked him what advice he would give to parents to get the kids into the garden. “Grow things they can eat” he said “it’s the best way to engage with them” – and of course I agree! This gave me my own inspiration – time for a trip around the Food Hall!
A belly-full of tasters later, it was back to the Gardeners’ World section, where the rest of the day was filled with demo’s, talks and SHOPPING. My feet, brain and purse were all drained by the end and I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing.
The next day I couldn’t shake the feeling that there were bits of the show I had missed – flowers I hadn’t sniffed, presenters I hadn’t pestered and Latin names I hadn’t struggled to pronounce. So, I packed my sandwiches and hit the road again at the crack of dawn on the Saturday. I had arranged to have a coffee with Annabelle, creator of life at No.27 , so I headed straight to the Press Lounge to catch up. I saw Annabelle’s talk on the Gardeners’ Unplugged Stage on the Thursday and it was so inspiring and really got me thinking – I couldn’t wait to pick her brain! I wasn’t disappointed – what a genuinely wonderful and supportive human being. I was blown away with her charm and ambition and I have become a huge fan – I can’t wait to follow her journey and I hope our paths cross again in the future.
During this chat I was introduced to Lee Connolly AKA the Skinny Jean Gardener. Lee was hosting the Unplugged Stage, so later that day I went to see him in action with Jack Wallington (Garden blogger of the year). This was a fantastic talk with plenty of food for thought.
So, what are my thoughts on Gardeners’ World Live? Abso-bloody-lutely AMAZING! I went for inspiration and to grow my knowledge base and I’ve taken away far more than I expected to.
Plant – Astrantia
Place – School Mealbarrows
Person – Adam frost
Until next time, Gardeners’ World Live!