In this piece we’ll be discussing the Gardeners’ World Live Show of 2012, currently running in Birmingham – how the project got started and has subsequently grown within the media and horticultural industries since its inception, and how exposure and your own enjoyment of its subjects can be improved through the awareness we hope to provide. Also, as with all the major gardening shows this year, we’ll be giving our personal opinion on the greatest triumphs of the show, the motivations behind these installations and also the people who helped transform them from a concept or design, to the reality GWL’s visitors will be able to enjoy en masse.
The beginning of Gardeners’ World Live, of course, stem from the titular television program of which the design expose was a spin-off (and a very successful one at that!). The TV broadcast piloted in 1968 and, by June 1992, it had been decided that perhaps the full potential of the show’s exposure hadn’t been taken advantage of and so Gardeners’ World Live was born. In its initial run the show enjoyed over 17,000 visitors and 100 exhibitors, and has since become a staple among the RHS’ seven annual shows. Since 2005 it has included the BBC Good Food show as one of its entertainment vassals. This year’s show expects around 85,000 visitors.
Also, due to its affiliation with the British Broadcasting Company, the GWL regularly entertains celebrity gardening personalities such as Monty Don, Julia Bradbury and Ainsley Harriott, further cementing its identity within the British psyche.
What this means of course, is that part of this year’s show will be devoted to the jubilation surrounding its 20 year anniversary , however, aside from celebrating the shows heritage, this year’s exhibition welcomes a host of new attractions that have only now been introduced. These include the ‘Going Wild’ feature which consists of a variety of different pursuits that can be used to strengthen our waning ecosystems and support the hugely varied wildlife endemic to our shores.
As such, it is sponsored and informed by a number of major charities and ecological preservation societies and trusts, including the British Beekeepers Association, Pond Conservation Charity and the Bat Conservation Trust. However, this exhibit is not limited only to the fauna of Britain, but also to her flora, as exemplified by the presence of the RHS sponsored ‘Seeds of Knowledge’ area.
This area is devoted to the sharing of new horticultural theory and also to familiarise gardeners with recently developed methods and species, with the aid of various horticultural colleges and national plant associations.
Leaning more on the aesthetic side of things, GWL is also entertaining a myriad of gardening pedigree this year with a veritable all-star group of designers, including Chris Beardshaw and Andy Sturgeon – RHS gold medallists, who’ve both been commissioned for separate roles in the show.
Sturgeon will be judging a new competition entitled ‘On Your Marks, Get Set, Garden!’ that is hoping to encourage new designers on the larger stage that the GWL offers and, as part of this impetus on new blood within horticulture, the show is for the first time offering a kids-go-free policy for its two weekend days and any child under 6 will gain free entry throughout. This offer has come on the back of several attractions designed to stimulate kid’s interest in gardening.
The show closes on Sunday, so it’s not too late – try and get along there this weekend to enjoy everything the show has to offer. Might even make another good Father’s Day gift?
By Josh Ellison