Slugger Off revisited
Yesterday was very special - I visited Gardeners' World Live at the NEC in the delightful company of 2 of my fellow students from KLC. We managed to fit in a few things to do with gardening whilst catching up with the regular student activities of drinking coffee and talking nineteen to the dozen - something we can't do usually as ours is a distance learning course. On the way to the NEC I had the bizarre experience of a hearse passing me by on the M42, so I can now say I've been undertaken by undertakers. I also managed to time my arrival with a massive deluge, so spent most of the morning looking like someone had thrown a bucket of water over my jeans. However, it was a most enjoyable day in the best of company.We took the advice of some show old hands I met just after parking my car and spent most of the morning in the floral marquee. It was good advice as we managed to get a good look at everything - the place was packed by the time we left at lunchtime. With 100 exhibitors, there was much to ooh and marvel at and I quickly got to plant overload. The alliums were particularly good and I was glad to get a close-up of Allium 'Hair' at last. The catalogues (and my photo) don't do it justice. I managed a quick word with Terry from The Botanic Nursery (you may remember I've been attending his workshops), who was rushed off his feet - a good sign.
JAS in full flow
A quick lunchstop then a trawl round part of the massive indoor exhibition. There was quite a bit of non-gardening stands, so sorting the wheat from the chaff in the time we had was quite a task. Then on to the Celebrity Theatre for a well-earned sit down. The guy doing the introduction was pure 'voiceover man' and I had a terrible fit of the giggles over his suit, fake tan, white teeth and getting everyone's names wrong. Finally, our main man James Alexander Sinclair bounded onto the stage to deliver a very energetic talk, though he did also manage to lie down on the stage at one point. It was all in the call of duty to get us to look at plants more closely (aka the 'garden pimples') as these are the building blocks needed to make an exciting garden. I was pleased he highlighted how inconsequential weeds can look when you've got fantastic plants in your borders - I'm always telling myself the eye travels to the nice bits and ignores the weeds in the process. We had a lovely long chat afterwards (and much later on) and I now have a much treasured signature in the book I reviewed earlier in the week.
By mid afternoon the weather outside had improved, so we headed out to have a look at the show gardens. These were quite plentiful - more than I'd expected and all judged to RHS standard, as were the smaller 'vignette' gardens in the indoor exhibition halls. Veggie lovers will be pleased to note that many of the gardens were devoted to vegetables, like the 3 Rs Garden shown above. Claire, the most enthusiastic designer of the garden proudly took us through all the materials she'd found for the garden, including used banknotes!
Checking the script with the production crew - the crew were relaxed, friendly, had a great sense of humour and gave us a round of applause (so did the presenters) at the end of filmingSomehow we managed to find ourselves caught up in the filming for tonight's Gardeners' World. I was quite happily looking at the Bradstone garden and noticed that the woman chatting away over the garden wall as if we were her neighbours was actually Rachel de Thame. I then noticed Joe Swift in the far corner of the garden rehearsing his lines. Like everyone else I took a few pictures and was about to move on when the TV crew came through to try and get the boom camera in the garden. It wouldn't fit through the gate, so much quick thinking was needed to hastily put together some shots that would work. A path was quickly cleared in front of us so Joe could move down the side of the garden to say his piece. Ah, but where was Carol Klein to go? Another path was cleared to the side and I suddenly found myself at the junction where Joe and Carol would meet up, then to be joined by Rachel over the wall - a prime spot! It took a few goes to get their piece done (including retakes because the weather wouldn't behave and the crew forgot to turn the camera on) and we weren't allowed to move off for the sake of continuity. So if you tune in to tonight's show on the telly, I'm the one that Joe Swift plonks himself in front of because my top matches Carol Klein's coat!
Er, how's this going to work then? I now have a much greater respect for the presenters - last minute changes, lines to check and deliver, plus many chats, autographs and photographs given willingly in-between.
Joe Swift took all the stick about his allotment firmly on the chin - here he is in the aptly named Joe's Allotment showgarden.