By Ann Evans

Photos by: Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography



If you enjoy your gardening, you may have gone along to the BBC Gardeners World Live Show and Good Food Show held at the Birmingham NEC over the last four days.  Gardeners World celebrated the 50th anniversary and that sense of nostalgia was reflected in a number of the show gardens and displays.


On Wednesday 14th June, judges announced the winning gardens and presented awards to the Best in Show winners. The panels of judges had been chosen because of their knowledge and expertise in all things horticultural. There were a variety of different categories including Show Gardens, Small Gardens, Beautiful Borders, the APL Avenue ( Association of Professional Landscapers) and Best Display.

A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley

It must have been a difficult choice to select the winners, as wandering around the gardens and displays each had it’s own distinct charm, personality and story to tell. From the mystery and romance of old castle ruins as in Wyvale Garden Centres ‘Romance in the Ruins’ designed by Claudia de Yong of Claudie de Yong Designs, to The MS Society’s ‘A Journey to Hope’ Garden designed by Andy Tudbury, Halycon Days Garden Design.


Relating to the 50th anniversary, ‘The Nostalgia Garden’ designed by Paul Stone of Paul Stone Gardens earned a Gold providing visitors the opportunity to step back to 1967 with its village store, a petrol garage complete with a 1960s Mini on the forecourt, and a nursery shop where you were reminded of what plants used to cost.


Taking Gold in the APL Avenue was St Albans based Lanwarne Landscapes with their Contemporary Bee and Butterfly Garden, designed by Martin Lines. With its purple and silver colour scheme, attractive structures, flowing water and insect nesting towers it was a perfect environment for man, bees and butterflies to enjoy. Last year Lanwarne Landscape, led by owner James Lanwarne took gold in the Beautiful Borders category. Immediately after winning that, James and Martin decided they would try to create a show garden for the next year. They were thrilled to win Best in Show again in their chosen category.


Delighted to receive a Silver Merit for their Artemis Landscapes ‘Living in Sync’ Garden were designer Viv Seccombe of Outside and Rachel Merrick of Artemis. With insect friendly plants, recycled materials and sculptured bug towers, this was a garden they hoped would make people stop and be inspired to do similar things in their own gardens to help wildlife. Rachel was also launching her brand new business, Wonderful Wildlife based around her mother’s incredible illustrations of nature and insects.


Over the four days, Gardeners World presenters including Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh gave talks and interviewed many of the designers, letting us in on their inspired ideas. And Friday’s Gardeners World TV programme was recorded at the show, where the highlight was the announcement of the plant that the British public have decided has had the biggest impact on gardening for the last 50 years. The ten presenters have over the last ten weeks been nominating the plant they feel has been the most influential over the last half century. Mary Berry revealed the winner to be – the rose, nominated by Adam frost, which also delighted her, as the rose was one of her top three favourites.


Visitors to the show had numerous stalls to browse selling everything you could possibly need for your garden from furniture to outside art, and from gardening gear to summer houses and much more – not forgetting a multitude of plants, shrubs, cacti and flowers of course.


The floral marquee was as ever a riot of colour and fabulous displays. One that caught our eye was ‘A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley’, which celebrated the eccentric art work of the late Rowland Emett OBE. He created mechanical ‘things’ purely to entertain and amuse. The fabulous display earned the team a Platinum Award.


Another beautiful if more serene display had been put on by South Staffs Bonsai Society with a fantastic collection of their members’ bonsai trees. Their efforts had earned them a Platinum Award for Best Display for the second year running.


It wasn’t all about gardening of course, the BBC Good Food Show runs alongside Gardeners World Live and popular Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain had created a 50th birthday cake for the event. She was kept busy at the show doing talks and demonstrations.


There were some big names from the world of cookery, including James Martin, Michel Roux Jr., Glynn Purnell, Tom Kerridge, Galton Blackiston to name but a few. And my favourite pair from the day, were Mary Berry assisted by Alan Titchmarsh. Alan proved that not only could he grow tomatoes, but he could also slice them too. Mary Berry showed her audience how to make a plum tomato, olive and marjoram tart, followed by a passion fruit and banana Eton mess.


A fabulously inspirational event for cooks and gardeners – whether novice or experienced. I can’t wait for next years show.