Toby Buckland is on the hunt for plants with a story at Gardeners’ World Live, he tells Andy Coleman.
Television gardener Toby Buckland wants your plants – and your stories.
The BBC Gardeners’ World presenter is looking forward to the Plant Swap at this year’s Gardeners’ World Live at Birmingham’s NEC.
Visitors are being asked to bring along their unwanted plants to exchange for something new to take home.
“This year we’re after plants with a story,” says Toby, who will be at the show with fellow presenters Joe Swift, Alys Fowler and Carol Klein.
“Maybe something that’s been grown from cuttings that’s been in your family for years, or a plant that’s followed you around the country as you’ve changed jobs or homes.
"Perhaps it’s something you remember somebody by – you may have taken a cutting from their garden and it keeps their memory alive. We want to hear those stories. I like it because it’s a good chance for us to have a chat with all the viewers of the programme.”
If your plant is not snapped up by fellow gardeners it may be taken to Greenacre, the BBC television garden and home to Gardeners’ World a few miles south of Birmingham city centre.
“There’s a list of plants that we’re after on our website and we’re particularly after those that will grow well among grasses,” Toby says.
For a keen plantsman like Toby, Gardeners’ World Live is irresistible.
‘‘What I love about the show’s floral marquee are the rose displays which are always brilliant and they’re all in perfect flower. And you can buy them as well. Roses are a particular favourite of mine – there’s one called Kew Gardens that we grow at Greenacre. It’s an excellent rose, disease-free and full of flower.’’
Toby likes the hands-on aspect of the show and the way it sparks ideas.
‘‘I’ve noticed in the last few years that if you’re keen on growing your own food there are really natty, simple ideas incorporated into the show gardens that you can do yourself. Unlike Chelsea, you can often get onto the show gardens and have a really good look at how things are made and get some ideas for your own back garden.’’
Before joining Gardeners’ World, Toby was a Gardeners’ World Live Best In Show winner as a garden designer, with his winning entry based on his own home garden in Devon.
“I enjoyed the whole process. Everyone at the NEC, the staff, security, everyone who works there, are a great bunch of characters. Everyone’s really friendly, making a great working environment. Building a show garden is stressful and you value those sorts of relationships.”
The modern gardening trend is for growing your own and at Gardeners’ World Live this aspect has its own area.
He adds: ‘‘The thing about growing your own fruit and vegetables, if you’re just starting out, is that some things do well one year then don’t do well the next. You always have to take a philosophical approach to it.
‘‘Going to the Grow Your Own Area is a brilliant way to get hints and tips on how to improve your harvests at home.’’
And, of course, once you’ve grown the food you need to know how to cook it which is why the Summer Good Food Show, which runs alongside Gardeners’ World Live, is the perfect companion.
‘‘I used to be on a BBC food channel, as their gardener, so I’ve worked with James Martin and all these wonderful chefs,’’ Toby reveals. ‘‘The demonstrations are a real highlight for me. Not only can you see gardeners that you’ve seen on television passing on tips, but you also get to see cooking demonstrations. There’s so much to see, the show is worth visiting more than once.’’
l BBC Gardeners’ World Live and BBC Summer Good Food Show is at Birmingham NEC June 16 - 20. For ticket details call 0844 581 1339 or book online at www.bbcgardenersworldlive.com.
l Next week: The Show Gardens