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.


A Garden That Won’t Grab Your Money But Will Grab Your Eye

We all want our gardens to look their best. This is especially the case when we have little ones to consider. The garden is their point of access to the outside, especially in their early years. It makes sense to want a garden that offers them as much outside experience as possible. But, there’s no denying that an elaborate garden can cost extortionate amounts, if you just splash the cash with unnecessary purchases. If you move into a garden that like ours, was in need of a complete over haul and a LOT of TLC you may need to stock up on materials, plants, and pay the bills to keep it all watered. All put together, those costs add up and fast. We often talk about saving money in the home, but we rarely consider how to save costs in our gardens. That’s why we’ve put together some points worth considering.

Spread The Love

bleeding hearts

You will, of course, want to fill your garden with beautiful blooms. Variety would be ideal but it isn’t always practical. To save money, you may be better off selecting a few plant types which spread well and will fill the empty spaces. Plants like Sweet Woodruff and Bishop’s Weed are fantastic for this. When using plants that spread, it’s possible to get a lot more for your money. And, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?

Go for big plats too such as Poppies and Hollyhocks. These are easy to grow and are large statement plants that look amazing but require minimum effort. My front garden doesn’t produce food (unlike our mini-farm back garden) and I have it crammed with low maintenance bushy plants.

Grow Your Own

Growing your own fruit and veg is a fantastic way to save money in the garden and is another way of getting the kids involved outside and having fun. You’ll still need to buy your equipment, but the amount of produce you receive will soon cover the costs. This will save you having to buy fruit and veg all year round. Of course you don’t need to dash to the garden centre and buy 100’s of plant pots, seeds and fancy digging equiptment. Keep your eyes peeled on Gumtree, Freecycle, Facebook selling pages and Schpock for cheap (and often free!) items. We were given a huge greenhouse for free recently, and all of our plant pots have been passed on by friends or given to us for free from garden centres who end up throwing loads in the skip (just like clothes shops do with hangers- another thing you never need to buy!).

If you wanted to, you could even make a little money growing food. Selling excess produce is sure to see a small profit or earning extra produce. I often swap food items for other items. It works fantastically and everyone saves a little cash! To ensure they get the most from their own gardening experience, get them involved in the whole process. Let them help with planning the garden, planting and maintenance, watering and then ensure they see the finished products. Kids love eating what they have grown and picked and it will teach kids a lot about food and where it comes from, something that many kids sadly struggle to understand in this modern world.

Your own water supply

Water supply is a major cost for any gardener. The more plants you have, the more water you’ll use. In the summer when rain is often rare, plants needs regularly watering to not only keep them alive but to keep flowers, flavouring and colour. It can get pricey fast if you’re using a hose pipe attached to your home water supply. A fantastic way around the problem is to invest in a private water supply, like Nicholls water boreholes. These will allow you to cut costs on water consumption drastically. It also means that your plants won’t have to go without if water restrictions are enforced. Your private water supply will still be going strong!

Setting up a borehole and the initial cost can be very costly and if you live in a rented home or a council house the landlords wont be happy if you go and dig up their land. Waterbutts are cheap and cheerful, and again you can often pick up second hand ones for pennies or even free! Kits to attach them to your drain pipe from the roof guttering only costs a couple of quid and after a heavy rainfall your water butt will be full. We have 3 waterbutts in our garden and they save enough rain to keep our mini-farm well watered in dry spells. Waterbutts can be attached to drain pipes, shed and garage roofs and even your greenhouse.


flowers in toilet

Of course, it’s not all about the plants. An excellent garden will also include stunning plant pots and garden ornaments. These don’t come cheap, either. In fact, buying the real deal could set you back a fair bit. That’s why it’s worth upcycling to keep your garden gorgeous. Again, this could offer a lot of fun for your children. You could get them planting flowers into old shoes, wheelbarrows, and even a bathtub if you wanted. Not only will these save on costs, but they’ll also become fantastic features for your outside space. We have transformed an old Belfast sink (a skip find!) into a herb garden, and even an 2 old toilets for flowers. I have flowers growing in tyres, logs as flower bed boarders and pallets as a compost heap. All work well, and cost me nothing!

growing flowers in tyres