One of my life philosophies is to always observe the beauty in the world, through whatever form that might take. Usually in my case, through a lens or created experience but also in physical space, getting close to nature. My relaxation time is just as important to me as what I do professionally, and luckily creating the perfect space in my garden to do that is something I really enjoy. Wherever I’ve lived, even in the tiniest of spaces I’ve always nurtured a little patch of green that I can call mine. Watching something grow, evolve and take shape over days/months/years is beautiful, even more so when it becomes part of the wider community environment, becoming a habitat for creatures big and small to go about their lives too. Anyway, before I deviate too much from the intention of this post, I wanted to tell you about my experience at BBC Gardener’s World Live 2017.
The annual event takes place at the NEC Birmingham and I visited on 18th June (tip, always visit on the last day for an enhanced experience and last day sales!). You’re most likely already familiar with the BBC television show Gardener’s World which this event stems from (hint: if you’re not already, give it a watch for really easy to digest tips and inspiration), this event really does continue in the same way. From Show Gardens, displays, presentations, celebrity appearances, demonstrations, stalls and sales to name a few, there’s plenty to look at and get involved with and you really don’t need to be an expert, quite the opposite. I’ll explore a few of my favourite bits below.
Show gardens and Borders
The show gardens were a fantastic collection of what great looks like and how easy it can be to create. Designs inspired from the 50’s up until modern day ran throughout to celebrate the shows golden jubilee. They really showed just how versatile gardens can be, taking all different shapes and forms, sizes and conditions, all adding something different but all visually amazing. From a garden inspired by a castle ruin to another inspired by a 60’s garage forecourt each showed off incredible thought, love and perfect planting. To the casual gardener like myself, the show gardens are easy to draw inspiration from, to take little snippets and try it yourself or to realise what colours work together or which plants prefer what conditions. The show borders also showed how easy it was to create an environment just as stunning, in a much smaller confined space and showed how choosing the right plants to add structure, height, depth was even more important.
Recycling and reusing
I took the most inspiration from the fact that throughout the show was a subtle focus on reusing the materials around you, or creating what seem like expensive elaborate structures from quite cheap and easy to source materials. My immediate favourite was the bottles stacked in one of the show borders. They simply had a curl of coloured paper in each, which the light bounced and reflected off, illuminating the bottles in a wall of colour. Add to that some vibrant plants and it looked brilliant! What’s great is that it’s really easy to recreate at home (I’m currently saving up my tonic bottles to do something similar), and that was captured in a few other gardens too. In one of the show gardens I loved how there were plastic 2L bottles with cut out holes hung up by pieces of rope. They were filled with Marigolds and provided a simple way of gaining more garden in a location which might be quite tight, it certainly made the most of the wall space. I think the colours worked well too, not by accident I’m sure, but the green of the bottles contrasted the orange on the rope and that of the marigolds and married together beautifully, fab for something which probably cost a few quid! There was a lot of interest in bringing wildlife into the garden too, with bug hotels and hide outs made from all sorts of things. From what looked like old DVD racks to old drawers and bookshelves. They were just given a new home outside and crammed full of interesting little things to create an exciting home to mini-beasts and crawlies which in term help the garden environment and the plants.
Other fab things
The Floral marquee at the show is home to the most exquisite plants, flowers and their many variations. Trimmed and grown to perfection this is the best way to explore many varieties of plants, their qualities and how best to look after them. You can chat away to worldwide experts on each variety and see what best looks like. For newbies like myself it’s great to learn about so many new varieties and add lots of plants to your wishlist. There’s a huge shopping area too, so you can add plants to your basket as you see them (can be a dangerous game). Plus to celebrate the 50 year anniversary there were some fantastic displays, such as this amazing giant cake of peonies.
With your entry to Gardner’s World Live you also get access to the BBC summer good food show too, which is a blast. You can try lots of new flavours, meet the stars of TV culinary fame and go shopping in the stalls too. In my case this was great for adding to my collection of gins.
So, you can probably see why I’m keen to return year after year. I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to gardening at all in fact I make a lot of mistakes, that’s half the fun, but BBC Gardener’s World (in all forms) makes it easy and fun to have a go and events like this are a great day out for anyone, garden enthusiast or not so I definitely encourage you to go along next year, in the meantime you can watch Monty and the team on TV.