There’s more than a whiff of nostalgia about this year’s Gardeners’ World Live. With the BBC programme celebrating its 50th anniversary, the show is looking back at gardening over the decades.
One of the displays I’m most looking forward to is the Anniversary Garden, which will show just how much gardening has changed over the 50 years.
Designed by Professor David Stevens and built by Peter Dowle, who last week won gold and Best in Show for his meditation garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival a few weeks ago, it’s being billed as “a brief history of modern gardens” and will have five ‘vignettes’ from the different decades.
Starting with the 1960s – who remembers colourful bedding and crazy paving? – it will move on to the 1970s and heather collections, outdoor rooms from the 1980s, growing environmental awareness and the garden ‘make-over’ of the 1990s, while the 2000s has a renewed interest in growing vegetables and herbs.
It’s not just gardening trends that are being remembered, the changing Gardeners’ World line-up is also being commemorated. Plants named after presenters, including ‘Geoff Hamilton’, ‘Alan Titchmarsh’ and ‘Percy Thrower’ roses, and ‘Monty Don’ sweet pea, have been woven into the planting in ‘The Nostalgia Garden’.
Designer Paul Stone has set it firmly in the 1960s with a village scene that has a classic Mini Cooper, period garage and even a Flymo – the first was sold 50 years ago.
And the party theme continues into the Floral Marquee with a three-tier birthday cake made of peonies and a garden party with British cut flowers. There will also be the chance to buy a piece of ‘Spiced Beetroot’ birthday cake made by Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain for the GWL show.
Meanwhile, ‘Gardeners’ Gold’ will be launched by Harkness Roses and Roses UK as part of the Rose Festival.
The Gardeners’ World anniversary is also the starting point for the popular Beautiful Borders feature. These small space designs show what you can achieve in the tiniest of plots.
Among this year’s entries is ‘The Magnolias’, a homage to Percy Thrower by three Pershore College students, a modern-style rock garden for an urban site, and a garden that celebrates Monty’s dog Nigel that includes a raised border shaped like a bone.
More inspiration for those with limited space will come from the five designs on ’APL Avenue’ where landscapers and designers put forward ideas for either a small front or back garden – all built with a limited budget.
Among the entries is one by Jamie Langlands of Cotswold firm Pro Gardens. The ‘CLIC Sargent’ Garden has a magical folly at its heart and aims to inspire imagination and adventure for a young family.
The other designs range from a wildlife friendly urban plot and a “hipster back garden” with a floating lounging platform, to a modern back garden with an outdoor kitchen and a garden for art lovers with decking that converts to lounge chairs.
• Gardeners’ World Live 2017 is at the NEC Birmingham from June 15-18. There will be talks, growing advice, including how to grow veg in containers with Matt Biggs, nursery exhibits and free entry to the neighbouring BBC Good Food Show. For more details, see the website.
I have six pairs of tickets to give away, valid for any day except Saturday June 17. See my Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram feeds for more details. (Click on the links at the top of the site.)