Sense Overload at BBC Gardeners’ World Live

It’s garden showtime with Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC in Birmingham, and I’ve just returned from a very long and sense stunning day. Four packed days are on offer through to Sunday 17th June, and there’s more than enough to fill a full day – if you’ve stamina enough to last a full day that is!

The show seemed this year to be set out better than ever, with wide walkways making people-jams almost a rarity, and allowing easier strolling around to see the goodies on offer.

Many well known gardening TV celebrities are doing shifts at the show in easy to see theatre style areas. Generally speaking, there are plenty of seats, good sound systems, and large video screens if you end up standing outside any given seating area.

Believe me – there is plenty to see with exhibits peppered throughout the show area. From floral displays, bespoke borders and plant nursery creations, to full scale designed gardens – something always to delight plant lovers both near and far.

A first discovery, for me at least, was an interactive element to one stand with the gardeners equivalent of a scratch-n-sniff display – a guess the herb section! I do have to say though, that it is stationed in the floral marquee where the atmosphere is packed with floral notes and pollen rich air – hay fever sufferers be warned!

Being a plant obsessed person anyway, I have to admit a degree of frustration with every garden show, and #BBCGWLive is no different. It is, I hasten to add, the restraint I have to show in NOT touching many plants; especially as they are all look so tactile and touchable! It is a garden show, after all, and the plants wouldn’t last should everyone try to touch!

There are so many fabulous plants and garden features packed, as always, with ingenious ideas to take away. One of the latest trends, the planted or ‘green’ wall is well represented at the show. They are just so full of texture I was mentally leaping the rope barriers, wanting to get up close and explore the touchy-feely plants.

Spread between Gardeners’ World Live and the Good Food Show were twelve stages to my knowledge, with only five carrying an extra charge. The open nature of the stages (a great move in my opinion) mean that even when you’re wandering around at leisure, you happen across folk otherwise only seen on TV! I have great respect for these people, and it is such a treat to hear them talk in such a relaxed manner about their gardening ways and experiences.

The knowledge shared between the various speakers is incredible, and even allowing for the odd curved ball question; all ‘performed’ extremely well. I have to say, a fun memory from today was James Alexander-Sinclair who, when introducing Carol Klein to the stage, made everyone wave their arms and sing Sweet Carol-Klein to the well know Neil Diamond tune!

I do have to give a shout out to Annabelle Padwick, who, after being introduced by the renowned Skinny Jean Gardener, revealed her gardening journey from early inspiration, through significant health challenges to the successful establishment of her allotment. Annabelle has a bright future ahead and her daily talks throughout the show, titled ‘Life at No. 27‘ are inspiring and not to be missed.

I couldn’t close my post without a mention of the taste temptingly gorgeous food; some still growing, but much, thankfully for sale! (How could I not mention food, seeing as we toured the Good Food Show many times during the day!)

Displaying vegetables is nothing new of course, but now more than ever, fruit and vegetables are turning up in designed gardens. Those shown in the Made in Birmingham garden especially were of amazing size and condition; quite an achievement for plants grown in containers.

I also have to recognise my favourite ‘Meal in a Barrow’ display, featuring, wait for it, a Viking themed barrow titled Veg-Halla – one of more than 30 examples of barrows created by Birmingham primary and secondary schools.

And so my post must end, and what an image to close the show. We sat on the lawn beneath a sunny sky with live music playing from the bandstand. It was an afternoon treat towards the end of a long, interest packed but tiring day. I found it fascinating, informative and inspiring – and I’m not simply referring to the cake!

I hope if you visit Gardeners’ World Live this weekend, you have a blast. I did, and I’d highly recommend it! If you go, or have been, I’d genuinely like to hear your comments.

Best wishes, Gary

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