Museum plays host to gardening experts

BBC Gardener's Question Time was recorded at Gressenhall Museum. Pictured (from left) are Matthew Wi

BBC Gardener's Question Time was recorded at Gressenhall Museum. Pictured (from left) are Matthew Wilson, Chris Beardshaw, Peter Gibbs, James Wong and Bob Flowerdew. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

From propagating daphnes to spindly rhubarb and ideas for exotic planting, the questions were aimed at testing their range of knowledge and expertise.

But a panel of some of the country's top gardening experts were more than equal to the challenge at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse when the BBC Radio 4 programme Gardener's Question Time took root for a recording of the popular show.

In the hot seats multi-award-winning designer and presenter Chris Beardshaw, botanist James Wong, top nurseryman Matthew Wilson and Norfolk organic gardening guru Bob Flowerdew spent a good two hours at the museum, near Dereham, on Monday evening in front of a full house of 200 gardeners, who had travelled from across the county, keen to get some top tips for their outdoor spaces with a lucky few selected to ask their horticultural questions.

Chaired by presenter Peter Gibbs, a former Norfolk resident, the audience responded with enthusiasm prompting his praise at the end of the recording that they were 'one of the best (audiences) we've ever had'.

Only he and the producer knew the questions beforehand so the panel really had to think on their feet to solve some tricky cultivation conundrums and propose the perfect plants for their plots.

Norfolk County Council chairman Hilary Cox was given the honour of putting the first question, asking the panel whether gardening archives and old seed catalogues were relevant to today's gardeners while Helen Howard from Dereham raised some laughs by bringing in a sample of her pencil-thin rhubarb but the panel quickly deduced that her soil type was completely wrong for the plant.

Susan Wood from Dillington really tested the panel's knowledge by asking for advice on propagating her daphne plant, producing a fascinating insight from James Wong into oriental techniques when he suggested sprinkling cinnamon around the plant as an anti-bacterial agent.

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Other questions ranged from levelling a lawn to over-wintering dahlias, the use of seaweed extract and advice to newcomers on an allotment, to which Bob Flowerdew suggested 'don't be a very good gardener because everyone will hate you!'

After the recording Mr Wilson praised the Norfolk audience's energy for 'making my job easier'.

Mr Gibbs added that there was a long waiting list of gardening groups wanting to host the show.

The two programmes will be aired at 3pm on Friday, July 5 and Friday, August 23, repeated at 2pm on the following Sundays.

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