I can't believe it's Tuesday evening already and I'm only just sitting down to write my highlights from Gardeners' World Live which we popped up to Birmingham for on Sunday. It was a long day, leaving home before 7.30am and not getting back until 9.30pm but we had a great day, were lucky with our train connections and saw lots. The day ended with a Chinese takeaway and some photo editing, with my highlights chosen that evening.
Would I go again? Yes. So if you've thought about visiting but haven't been sure I'd recommend it. For me, shows like this are all about the gardens and the displays. I tend to avoid buying too much, although we did leave with some cheese and some Whiskey and Toffee Vodka from the adjoining Good Food Show. There were lots of plants to purchase on those crates on wheel trolley things tackled me at least a few times while I wasn't expecting it. I was less keen on transporting plants home by train, but perhaps if I lived closer or if we'd driven then it might have been an option.
I've driven to the NEC before, albeit from Norfolk which isn't as straightforward as you think it might be, but even so after our train journey this weekend, it's safe to say I'm a train convert. The downside though is trying to predict when you're ready to come home in advance, and I think I was optimistic with that, which resulted in the longer than usual day. Although if the weather had been nicer I'm sure we wouldn't have noticed it quite so much, and would more likely have spent time making use of the plentiful outdoor seating areas.
So onto my highlights
One of the first show gardens we saw was this "Breath of Fresh Air" garden, and it certainly was. The helenium-type yellow flowers against the leaves of the hosta made for an unusual combination and well, as you know, I'm rather partial to a pop of yellow.
The Made in Birmingham garden was one that I'd seen on Gardeners' World before our visit and I was looking forward to seeing it. I love veg growing in rows nice and orderly like this and in my mind's eye my allotment would look like this, without weeds of course, just like this one. I think MOH was more interested in the train carriage, but declined the opportunity to see the garden from the other side.
You'll definitely be seeing more of this garden on the blog, and you never know one day I may be able to grow veg as neatly as this. It's a long shot, but definitely something to aim for!
Another feature of the show was the Beautiful Borders area, and there were many of these small plots of loveliness which I insisted we walk around every side of every single border. I've chosen a few photos from this part of the show as not only were they great to look at and full of inspiration, but they also used plants that you or I would have in our gardens and looked, dare I say it, attainable?
The first one represented one of my favourite books - The Chronicles of Narnia - and was complete with a wardrobe. I'm teasing you though as I'm showing an arty-farty pic, but it's so gorgeous I had to include it in a highlights post.
The Marie Curie With Love pulled at all sorts of heart strings with its message pebbles around the pool, and while it was touching to read these messages, and I'm sure leave them, the bridge did make me smile for the designer's attention to detail.
The Pyramid Garden was a jumble of beauty (with apologies to the designer if they're offended by my description), but to me it was the dense planting and plants that most of us recognise that was central to its appeal.
After we'd systematically admired each of the Beautiful Borders my eyes were taken by a row of wheelbarrows, which turned out to be a rather long row of wheelbarrows planted up by local schools. Each wheelbarrow was a "meal in a barrow" and it was great to see how the schools had tackled this, and the meals they chose. The stone bugs and painted wooden spoon plant labels of this one were the deciding factor on which of the many photos to include, but you may have seen my Instagram on Sunday where I shared a chicken in a wheelbarrow...
I've chosen the next few photos for their colour and form, and you'll not be surprised to see a succulent or two along the way I'm sure. But first up is this vivid reddy-pink phormium, which was also in a glossy red pot. If you want colour, this certainly delivered.
In the flower marquee I quickly sniffed out the cacti and agaves and this one caught my eye.
We also stopped a while and admired the air plants, they really are quite peculiar and yet fascinating at the same time. I've a feeling there'll be more about these on the blog too, but I'd be interested to know what you think of them? I was almost tempted to buy one of these but found it hard to choose just one.
It wasn't long though before I stumbled across some more succulents, these ones having a picnic. Quite random, but pretty nonetheless.
The Floral Marquee was a mix of exhibits and plant sales and a hive of activity. There was a cafe in the centre but it seemed pretty low on stock compared to the many food vans around the show so we stuck to searching out the more unusual plants, like these carnivorous ones. Don't get too excited though as they're unlikely to solve any fly problem you might have as they are only likely to eat around six a year.
The markings are spectacular though, and it's easy to see why a fly might be tempted in.
My last highlight photo is one of a stand offering wedding floral arrangements and the fountain of champagne glasses filled with flowers looked spectacular. Probably a little too delicate for my clumsy self (and apart from the fact that I'm not in the market for wedding flowers) but an unusual, and pretty take on wedding flowers.
So, now you can see why - or part of why - it was such a good day. I'll be sharing more photos from my visit, interspersed with all the other photos I've already promised to share.