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BBC Gardeners’ World Live 2012

BBC Gardeners’ World Live is a great favourite with the public, with its selection of stalls, large floral marquee, show gardens and the addition of the BBC Good Food Show to enjoy as well. However some years the gardens have been a little disappointing with big name designers being significant in their absence. This is possibly because the show does not attract the level of sponsorship that other RHS shows receive, yet designers are competing for RHS medals just the same.

However this year showed signs of change. Chris Beardshaw and Adam Frost, both fresh from winning Gold Medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, had stunning gardens with Adam winning Best in Show with his garden Coming out to play? Featuring ponds to dip your net into, a lawn to play skittles on and a woodland area to pitch the tent this garden was designed to provoke nostalgic childhood recollections in all of us.

Two new competitions gave designers the opportunity to win significant financial backing for their gardens. Change-of-career designers were given the chance to win £6000 towards their garden and Lyn Gould’s Don’t dream it – be it! illustrated her journey from the pinstriped world of accountancy to a creative life as a garden designer.

In the second competition, designers were challenged to produce innovative designs using identical materials along with a further £3000 to aid their project. Four were awarded the chance to build their ideas, along with mentorship from multi-award winning designer Andy Sturgeon. With four very different themes the gardens perfectly illustrate the almost endless possibilities that can be achieved with good design.

Brett Hardy’s garden, Water Wise, showed how an eco-friendly can still look chic and attractive.

Lost Forms by Graeme Thirde set out to highlight the spate of metal thefts that are blighting public monuments and sculptures.

With I’d rather be in the garden Helen Stewart created a contemporary, quirky, urban space in which to relax with integrated areas for growing your own.

Angie Turner invited toddlers into the very heart of her Peek-a-Boo garden with places to run and hide among the plants and peep around timbers hidden among the foliage.

As in previous years BBC Gardeners’ World Live tries to encourage everyone to garden, no matter how small the space and outside on the hill could be found a whole array of small plots. Birmingham Borders offers students and gardeners experience in designing, planning and building a horticultural exhibit and although of variable standard some were excellent. Edible Patches are a collection of small workable areas creating real life mini-allotments and every patch is planted with edibles that have been grown by the individual exhibitors. All illustrate perfectly how a small space can still be very productive.

If BBC Gardeners’ World Live continues on this upward trend then it has a very bright future. If it can continue to attract some of our top designers while encouraging those new to the profession to take their first steps into the world of show gardens that is a great achievement. This is the one garden show that really puts an emphasis on getting ordinary people interested in gardening and showing how anyone can do it.

The overall standard of gardens this year was very good but perhaps my secret favourite was to be found indoors and was knitted! The skill and creative inspiration on this stand was phenomenal. Not only did they have to design a garden but then they had to create everything that went in it, from a brick path to a tiny greenfly. Well done to the Creative Moments craft group and their volunteers. It was brilliant!

© Sharon Brown 19th June 2012

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