My Essentials List For Gardener’s World Live 2017

It’s time for BBC Gardener’s World Live 2017 at the Birmingham NEC, and this year’s event is set to be bigger (and greener!) than ever before. Gardener’s World are celebrating a superb 50th anniversary and there are plenty of celebrations in store for all of those visiting the magnificent gardening event this weekend (Thursday 15th June – Sunday 18th Jun). After taking a visit last year, and looking through all the exciting press coverage, I bring you Gardener’s World Live unmissable moments for 2017.

From era inspired gardens to the naming of THE Golden Jubilee Plant, something regular viewers of the show have been anticipating the grand reveal of, visitors will not find any difficulty filling their day with spectacular things to see and do. Last year we visited on the Saturday. We arrived at 9am for opening and did not leave until the very end of the day. We still felt like we hadn’t seen everything, and really could have done with an extra whole day at the show!

Gardeners World Live has once again opened it’s doors side-by-side with BBC Good Food Show, with entry to both shows included in your GWL show ticket. Scroll down for more information on BBC Good Food Show and what’s not to be missed if you’re planning on visiting that arena too.

The show opens tomorrow (Thursday 15th) and it’s filming day for a very special hour long episode which shall be aired on Friday night, GW’s Official 50th Birthday. We can’t wait to see the GW presenters at work… keep your eyes peeled for me fan-girling Monty Don in the background. Do Not Adjust Your Sets. That really is my excited face. If you’re planning on heading to the show tomorrow do wander around and try to spot the film cameras and catch a glimpse of the presenters doing what they do best.

What’s Not To Be Missed At The Year’s GWL

  • Step back in time at The Nostalgia Garden (designed by Paul Stone, plants supplied by St Andrews Healthcare), a village scene set in the ‘60s complete with garden centre overflowing with the plants of the decade, and the prices to match! Stroll by a babbling brook, spot the vintage `1967 Mini Austin and Nuffield Tractor famously constructed in Birmingham and look out for the plants named after Gardeners’ World presenters! Then journey through five decades of glorious gardening, from the crazy paving of the ‘70s to naturalistic planting of the ‘00s, at The Anniversary Garden: A Brief History of Modern Gardens (Prof David Stevens and Peter Dowle). The Beautiful Borders are also all themed around 50 years of Gardeners’ World. Personally, this Garden is #1 on my must-visit list and I am so excited to see The Nostalgia Garden come to life.
  • From the most recent presenters of BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World to some of the most famous faces from the past, the nation’s best-loved gardeners take to the stage, including: Monty Don, Carol Klein, Joe Swift, Adam Frost, Nick Bailey, Flo Headlam and Frances Tophill from the current line-up. Plus Alan Titchmarsh, Toby Buckland and Peter Seabrook from series of old. You can also book tickets for shows on the main stage Gardeners World Live Theatre, where you can sit back, relax and listen to the likes of Monty Don, Alan Titch marsh and Carol Klein, to name a few.
  • The Potting Shed and The Veg Trug Stage is where you shall also find some 1st class knowledge from the big name gardeners including Alan Titchmarsh and Joe Swift.

    Skinny Jean Gardeners chat on the VegTrug stage last year.
  • There’s plenty for the kids to do all weekend, with activities on the Thursday and Friday aimed at pre-schoolers and activities for children of all ages over the weekend. On Picnic Hill you can find texture rubbing, vegetable printing, creating bird feeders and making Fathers Day cards. Located on Picnic Hill will also be a face painter (11:00-16:00) and a huge sandpit plus the schools’ Meal In A Barrow Competition bought to you by The Conservation Volunteers. Dotted around the show will also be lots more fun things for your little gardeners to see and explore, including The Donkey Sanctuary and the Poultry Talk. The National Allotment Society will also have children’s activities to enjoy too. If you fancy some child-free shopping and exploring time for yourself, you can leave your children (aged 0-5) having fun at the Little Folks Day Nursery for 90 minutes for £4 per child.
  • Sponsored by Guide Dogs, the Shop And Drop Plant Crèche (yes… a plant crèche is a thing!) is a place where you can drop off your shopping and plants while you enjoy the rest of your day hands free. Make the most of it, and meet some fluffy loveable guide dogs too.
  • Of course, there are alo the show gardens to explore, as well as the floral marquee, the rose festival, hundreds of shopping stalls, beautiful borders, and small gardens to explore.

    Outside there was so much to explore!

BBC Good Food Show

Are you starting to see why I feel like you need a whole weekend to see and do everything? I have only touched the tip of the iceberg, and it would be hard (and very, very time consuming to list everything and everyone to see. I’ve only really spoken about GWL above, and there is still another whole show to explore, included in your ticket, all in the same venue. BBC Good Food Show, also hosts a fantastic day of excitement.

Baking Queen Mary Berry and mum-favourite Joe Wicks can be found throwing around some flavours, along side a huge selection of other popular chefs and experts. MARY BERRY!!! –THE– MARY BERRY!!!! Just let that soak in.

Be Prepared For The Day

The Birmingham NEC is a big place, and if you’re planning on taking kids or not, it will still be a very tiring day for most. I’ve been a regular NEC visitor for a few years now, and I’ve picked up some tips to make your day more enjoyable.

  • Get there early. The show opens at 9am and you’ll need time to park and get from the car park to the venue. This can take a while, as most people choose to take the free shuttlebus that runs every 5 minutes from the car park to the venue. You don’t want to miss the grand daily openings, because you left half an hour too late!
  • Take parking money. Annoyingly the Birmingham NEC charges for parking. It’s normally £12 for the day (but has been as cheap as £10 and as much as £15 dependent on the show).
  • Make a packed lunch. You want to save as many pennies as your can for that all important event shopping! There are plenty of places to eat around the venue, but these can be expensive and at lunch times the queue can be l-o-n-g.
  • Make a plan the day before you go. What do you want to see? Any speakers that you are desperate to listen to? Any shopping essentials you MUST buy at the show? If you make a plan (even if it’s a loose one) you will certainly waste less time, aimlessly wandering and missing all the good bits!
    Lots of great ideas for small front gardens.


My Essential Crafting Tools And Materials

I like to keep myself busy. Once the kids are in bed and fast asleep, I can be found in my favourite spot in the living room working on something crafty. I have many projects on the go. Currently I am working on a rag rug crocheted from old bedding, I am also crocheting a huge granny square bed throw, I’m always knitting dishcloths (these make fab presents for people and are the easiest thing to make!) and I always seem to be constantly making little blankets for the kids, beds and pets. Oh and I sew too! It’s great fun, learning a new skill and you get to fill your evenings with some brain-sharpening projects.

Giant granny square throws are my favourite thing to make ATM!

Crafting is always a fun way of passing the time. It’s a great way to relax and a good excuse to shut yourself away and enjoy your own company. If you’ve never really crafted anything before, you’re unlikely to have much of the equipment or materials that come in handy. But as you start crafting, you can very quickly build up a collection of essentials. Then whenever you want to work on a project, you’re likely to have what you need already available. You’ll soon be picking up random things whenever you spot something you might like to use in a sale. I always keep my eyes peeled in charity shops and at car boots, you can be surprised at how often the perfect pair of knitting needles can be found for pennies! YouTube videos really helped me learn new skills. You can take your time, re-watch videos over and over, and if there’s something new you want to try, you’re guaranteed to find a video of YT for it, without a doubt.

If you want to start crafting, you should take a look at my suggestions for essential tools and materials.

A Knitting Bag

This is an essential if you want to learn how to knit or crochet. You’ll soon end up with balls of wool and half created projects hanging around so get a decent sized knitting bag to store it or all (or just some of it, if you end up hoarding as much wool as me!) and to keep everything tidy and accessible.

I’ve ended up with so many balls of wool, cotton and tools that I’ve ended up using a whole sideboard in our living room as a storage space for it all. My neighbour… well, she has a whole bedroom! That’s crafty dedication!

This is just 1/3rd of my stash!

A Sewing Machine

The idea of owning a sewing machine might seem a little extreme for a casual crafter. A lot of people think they’re mostly for serious sewers, especially since they can take up a lot of space. However, you don’t have to spend too much or buy anything too big. If you just want to do a bit of basic sewing, there are some very affordable mini sewing machines. You can easily put them away when you’re not using them, and they usually have a handful of useful stitches. They don’t do anything fancy, like sewing buttonholes, but they can do the basics for a variety of sewing projects.

I never knew how to use a sewing machine until I met my husband. I had previously sewn everything by hand, which was very time consuming. He treated me to a mini machine, and it was my husband who even taught me how to use it! We do still giggle that it was him who taught me how to sew. I started practicing by sewing basic squares (turning them into reusable baby wipes and toilet paper) and then I started sewing little scatter cushions and turning up clothes. 2 years ago, I decided I was ready for bigger and better and decide to splash out on a multifunctional Singer sewing machine.

A Hot Glue Gun

When a sewing machine isn’t available or isn’t suitable for your craft project, there’s another essential tool that can come in handy. A hot glue gun can stick all manner of things together, from fabrics to plastic or wood. They come in different sizes so you might want to start off with a mini one. Have a look at what’s available from Glue Guns Direct to compare small 12mm glue guns to monster 43mm ones. They can be very affordable tools, and the refill glue sticks don’t cost a lot either. They have so many different applications, and you can even get coloured glue sticks.

I found glue guns especially useful when reupholstering furniture. It saves me from fiddling around with tacks and hammers, when I could simply glue material into place instead. Learning how to re-cover chairs and stools is very easy, and it means that you can instantly re-vamp tired looking furniture quickly. It’s amazing how fresh an old chair can look with some funky new fabric. Top tip- Use favourite shirts or bedding sets when they no longer fit, or are good enough for their original purpose. You get to keep your favourite top, and still use it every day!


OK I admit, I may have a slight fabric problem. I have a huge box full of pretty bed sheets, curtains, towels and clothes that I’m saving for future projects. A collection of fabrics is something you can build up over time with ease. You’ll soon find that you too have a box or bag full of scraps that you can dip into anytime. If you’re just starting to get crafty, I suggest buying a bundle of fat quarters. A fat quarter is a piece of fabric measuring roughly 18″ by 22″. You can buy them in themed bundles so that you get samples of different fabrics to try out. It’s easy to buy them from places like Hobbycraft, where you can get packs of 5 or 6.

You could be surprised by how many projects you can do with one pack. Of course, you can also order large pieces of fabric. These usually measure 110-112cm (or 45″) in width, sometimes 150cm (or 60″), and you can order the length of fabric you need. Fat quarters are usually used for making quilts (another easy starter project to gibe a go!) but you can also start your sewing journey making some gorgeous bunting for your home. You’ll get a few triangles per square and you’ll soon have friends begging you to make some for them too!

Learn how to give furniture a new lease of life with bright fabrics.

Different Types of Paint

A bit of paint can easily transform something, but you need to have different paints for different materials. You can’t paint on wood or metal with the same paint you use on fabric. But you don’t need to rush out and buy 20 types of paint to start playing with. This is the kind of thing you can start collecting as you try out different projects. If you decide you want to upcycle a table, you might buy some wood or metal paint. Or if you want to make a t-shirt design, you might need some fabric paint.

I’m determined to start painting more and I have 2 tired looking wardrobes that I am determined to revive. Watch this space!

A DIY Toolbox

Some people prefer crafts where they can work with a needle, a glue gun or a paintbrush. Others want to do some sawing and hammering. If you want to start making things for your home or doing a bit of DIY, having a good toolbox is useful. The best thing to do is to collect tools as you need them and put them in your toolbox. However, you can also find some boxes that are already full of some useful tools. Since moving into our new home, I have seriously learnt some skills when it comes to sanding, filling and drilling. The house is unrecognisable now, to when we first moved in and while I don’t do home DIY as often as I knit, I still seem to have discovered a huge passion for it. There are some fabulous Facebook pages for learning DIY skills and getting inspiration for your next project. My favourite FB page is ‘DIY On A Budget’… prepare for some serious house envy!

Wood, MDF, and Similar Materials

If you want to take on some tasks involving woodwork and other DIY skills, you’ll need materials for that too. It’s always useful to have a few random pieces on hand, in case inspiration strikes you. Of course, these materials can be a bit harder to store. You can’t fold them up like you can a piece of fabric. But if you have space in your garage or shed, those are handy places to store them. My husband is always working on something in the home or garden and is very handy with woodwork. He recently made the kids some benches for the garden made from old car tyres and planks of wood, it took him less than an hour, the kids love them and he’s very proud of his upcycling efforts!

You don’t need all these things to start crafting, but they can be useful for different things. Think about what sort of projects you want to do before you buy anything. Do you have a hobby? Maybe you sew, crochet or shabby chic furniture. Tell me what you love doing, and do share your images on my social media pages!