What a day! Last night I remembered I was meant to be somewhere important today. I’m suffering from some serious brain fog at the moment, my head being filled with excitement of moving house (which still feels like I have forever to wait) getting my oldest ready for starting school and a million other house jobs. But, at 8pm as I sat on the sofa with a large glass of wine I decided to catch up on Gardeners World. Oooh, Monty Don is telling his loyal viewers all about BBC Gardeners World Live, an event happening this weekend at the Birmingham NEC.
Wait, what did he just say? This weekend? Oh SH*T!!! I’m down on the doors as going, in like what, 12 hours? And that’s when excitement and scrambled preparation kicked in.
So, this morning we shuttled the kids off to Nanny’s house, grabbed our Thermos and off we went to BBC Gardeners World Live. It was the final day of the show so we really had to cram in a lot in just 1 short day. Arriving at the NEC I realised just how huge this show was. I have been to several events at the NEC such as The Baby Show and The Gadget Show Live, so I sort of knew what to expect. But the sheer size of Gardeners World Live blew me away. Not only were the NEC halls full of glorious products, plants and well known faces, but the amazing-ness also spilt out of the doors and was taking up space outside of the arena with huge pop up marquees, full size gardens to explore, and a gazillion stall holders. Oh and a stunning barge on a mini waterway covered in (you guessed it) flowers.
Our first stop inside of the arena was the VegTrug Grow Your Own stage. VegTrug offer a nifty range of raised planters that look stylish and eliminate the developing back-ache often found in the garden. All day there were great talks from well known faces such as Skinny Jean Gardeners (Blue Peter gardeners and YouTubers) and even Matt Biggs (BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time) to sit and listen to. Matt spoke passionately about growing fruit while the Skinny Jean Gardeners cracked jokes and felt like a breath of fresh air as they encouraged youngsters to step away from the Xbox and get into the garden. They also created a crazy green smoothie loaded from fresh veg grown in their own VegTrug – with the addition of a worrying amount of chillies. My regular readers will know that I am passionate about getting kids outside and in the garden discovering the joys of growing-their-own, so Skinny Jean Gardeners talk was not to be missed.
We headed over to see the chickens who were doing a great job at attracting visitors over to the British Hen Welfare Trust and Poulty Talk stand. We took our youngest baby Ivy with us for the day, and please don’t underestimate how much Ivy is obsessed with chickens. We have 6 of our own at home so she is certainly used to being around our feathered friends. I listened to a talk on what the British Hen Welfare Trust are about and how they are encouraging us all to give ex-battery hens a fresh start through rehoming schemes, which was great to see so many people sat on the hay bales listening. Hens are not only great for giving eggs but they are also calming and fascinating birds to watch, and after many have sad starts in life through living on battery farms, with a new home and a few weeks to settle in they can start to enjoy life again.
We popped along to see the RSPB stand, seeing as we live literally on the edge of one of the RSPB reserves it seemed daft not to go and say hi. We signed up as members too, as this was something we hadn’t done before even though we quite regularly visit our local reserve. Membership costs however much you want it too, so you can choose to either donate £3 a month or £300… whatever goes. We received an awesome pack as a thank you for joining too. The RSPB had created a superb wildlife garden too for us all to explore (and kick start some amazing ideas for keeping the wildlife happy in our new garden once we move).
Monty Don was speaking in the Gardeners World Live theatre, as well as signing his new book for fans in the pop up WHSmith shop. Now, if you’re a fan of Gardeners World, you are a fan of Monty. The man is an absolute legend. He knows his stuff. There literally is not a thing that man doesn’t know about what to plant where, when and what with. Also, I may have been known to blush during summer episodes of Gardeners World when his jumper comes off. The man is gardening GOD. Naturally, wherever Monty was within the NEC he was surrounded by fans. People were flocking to listen to his knowledge and seats for the GW Theatre were sold out. I luckily managed to get a picture, but I was nowhere as near to him as I would liked to have been.
Also joining BBC Gardeners World Live in the NEC arena was BBC Good Food Live too. We briefly had a run through the amazing food stalls, trying not to feel hungry with all the temping and amazing food smells surrounding us, although I must admit I did try nearly every sample I passed without hesitation. We popped to say hi to the Linda McCartney team and waved vigorously at the Pulsin guys. I had to leave the food arena because my tummy was rumbling and I still had outside to explore.
Making our way outside, we first noticed the humongous Floral Marquee. That tent was massive. Stepping inside the beautiful smell of all the flowers hit me in the face first, then once my eyes adjusted I noticed all of the amazing flowers. Just wall to wall with every kind of indoor and outdoor plant imaginable (EDIT: I’m still on the hunt for a Swiss Cheese Plant and sadly GWL failed with that one). Professionals stood proudly displaying their prize flowers and happy to help with any question you may have been burning to ask. The atmosphere was as beautiful as the flowers surrounding us all.
Back outside we wandered through the stalls admiring the equipment, plants and tools for sale. We then took our time walking through the garden set-ups created specially for the show. From space saving tiny gardens to full sized allotment patches there was plenty of inspiration to be absorbed. The day was soon over, as people started to make their way out of the NEC and back to their cars. It couldn’t have been time to leave yet, surely? 🙁 I felt like we needed another whole day to see everything. There just were not enough hours to listen to all over the talks, see all of the stands and look at all of the stunning gardens, and that was just for Gardeners World Live. There was also the BBC Good Food Show on too, which could be visited as well, included in your ticket and was just as huge to walk around with some amazing speakers, such as THE QUEEN Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and even the Hairy Bikers. Seriously, believe me when I say you need more than a day. There is a Travelodge on site and next year I know we shall be booking a room for a night so we can return to the show the next day to make sure we have seen all we wanted too.
I am sure that next years Gardeners World Live will be just as amazing as this years show. So make sure you don’t miss out next year by keeping an eye on the BBC Gardeners World Live website for announcement details about next years show. If you can’t wait until next year, there is an all new show for muddy fans, BBC Country File Live comes to Bleinhem Palace between August 4th – 7th.