BBC Gardeners' World Live 2011
While not in the same league as Chelsea, the annual BBC Gardeners' World Show at Birmingham is an impressive show and well worth the trip for any keen gardener.
The BBC hold an annual event at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre every June combining their Summer Good Food Show with the Gardeners' World Show.
The show is probably 70% dedicated to the gardener and 30% to the foodies. To entice the gardener there are a vast array of stands within the main exhibition halls offering their wares in an effort to part you from your hard earned cash. You could spend anything from a few pence for a pack of seeds to tens of thousands of pounds for a top notch greenhouse. It's a bit like visiting the largest garden centre in the world.
Inside the main arena they also have a theatre where the BBC Gardeners' World team give regular talks. Some are free, others cost a few pounds to attend, but ensure you book early as demand is fierce. We attended one of the presentations given by Alan Titchmarsh on growing Roses. While this was only half an hour long, it was incredibly informative and well worth the modest fee.
Outside the main exhibition halls are a selection of show gardens judged by the RHS. Whilst the majority of these are certainly not up to the top Chelsea standards, there are nonetheless some interesting gardens which can give the keen gardener some useful inspiration.
The floral marquee at the Gardeners' World show is very similar in size to that of the Chelsea Flower Show, with a host of amazing floral displays (a few of which were at Chelsea a few weeks earlier). The big difference between this floral marquee and Chelsea's was the fact that you can actually buy plants, seeds or bulbs from most of the stands in the "tent". However, you need to be wary as many of the visitors to the show come armed with wheeled shopping trolleys to haul their purchases about, so be careful of your ankles!
This show is not the same type of show as the likes of Chelsea or the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, but it does offer a lot to the average gardener. There are a few nice show gardens, but the floral marquee offers you the opportunity to see displays of some wonderful plants and cultivars, whilst allowing you to pick the brains of the experts who grew them and to purchase your own specimens. So if you're thinking of going to next year's show, be sure to take your credit card and your shopping trolley to make the best of it.
For more information see:
BBC Gardeners' World Live