It’s All Glenn’s Fault

There we were happily watching Gardener’s World one Friday night in March without a care in the world. We had our wedding to look forward to in October, plans for a summer holiday brewing, even the garden was looking green again after a miserable winter.

Before I knew it Glenn had emailed a TV researcher following a brief announcement at the end of the programme, calling for anyone interested in taking part in a garden makeover show to contact them. At this point we had been in our house less than six months. We had started redecorating and every now and then went out to peer over the edge of the garden into an abyss. We had talked about what we could to do make the garden useable but hadn’t come up with much. Obviously we knew the garden was a challenge when we bought the house and we were pretty sure the lack of level ground would be manageable, somehow.

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Our garden as we inherited it

Within a couple of days we heard from the researcher who wanted to chat to us both on the phone about our garden and us. All fine, no problems. Then a couple of days later, another call. Could she come over to do a test piece, was that ok? At this point we started to waver. What were we getting into? Were we really able to be on TV and do the garden? Could we meet the deadline? After all, we had a wedding to plan, jobs to go to, family commitments, life in general.

The more we talked about it the more we realised what an opportunity it was because this was no ordinary garden make over programme. We would be working with the lovely Monty Don who would come to our house and help us. How could we refuse! To add to the glamour we had set ourselves a target of having some flowers from the garden at our wedding, even if it was just a few dried seed heads on the table. It would be October after all.

Test interview done, in the rain. Sent back to the BBC for approval. We hadn’t realised we had to be vetted by the beeb but thankfully we did not offend them with our mannerisms or appearance and within four weeks Monty Don was standing in our garden. It was as easy as that.

Our garden was made up of the following; a steep slope running away from the house in two directions. A stone wall half way down the slope running along the width. A narrow bed at the bottom with shrubs and a row of daffodils. A small stepping stone path which ended suddenly and a compost heap in the corner.

Both Glenn and I had owned gardens before. We knew what plants we liked and the look we wanted. Luckily for us, Glenn is a master of planning and problem solving. He is methodical and practical with a wealth of experience and so even though he had started the ball rolling (into the unknown) with this project I had every confidence it would go smoothly.

We drew up our plans, set our budget, thought about planting, did some research, cleaned the house, tidied the garden, baked a cake and carefully planned what to wear. We didn’t want to clash with Monty’s trademark blue linen. With just a few days left before our first day of filming we were already in a state of high excitement and just a moderate amount of anxiety. What would he be like? How would we react? What on earth had we done? Because there was probably no going back now.IMG_3404

Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea; A Bolt From the Blue (linen)

One Week in Showbiz

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It’s been a bizarre and genuinely exciting time for us. Ever since we heard from Lion TV that the BBC were finally going to show the series we took part in last year we have been on a bit of a media ride. Hence this blog, it had to be done.

Take today for example, we were stopped in the street by a lovely little old lady. I say lovely, she might not have been of course but she at least seemed it. She came out of nowhere, grabbed Glenn by the arm and said to us “You’re the gardeners! Well done!”. We were bowled over, thanked her and carried on our way laughing in disbelief. We have both been recognised separately in the last week, today was our first joint outing so we could enjoy the experience together.

We have had many emails from old friends who happened to see us on TV. Many lovely comments from colleagues, friends and of course, family. Social media in all its forms has been incredible, so much positivity, encouragement, new contacts and opportunities. We have been in the local and national press which has cost us a small fortune as we have bought each one we appeared in and now have a great stack waiting to be archived. Local BBC radio has been to interview us and we were asked for our tips on garden design. This totally floored us and we had to fumble for a decent answer as it was for an RHS competition, no pressure. Most exciting has been the invitation to give some talks and a demonstration at the Salisbury Home and Garden show on March 20. We cannot wait! The demonstration side of the day will need some thought. Based on our experience we could demonstrate endless hours of digging and soil shifting with some sleepless nights and tortuous discussions on planting schemes thrown in. Not sure how well that will go down with the gardeners of Salisbury though.

The weather though cold has been less dreary and we have been feeling refreshed and enthusiastic for a looming growing season. Probably spurred on by the fact we have applied to open our garden via the National Garden Scheme. Today we went to Baskets and Blooms in Fordingbridge to buy hellebores and primroses. We also found a lot of summer bulbs we were planning on buying via mail order. They were so cheap we couldn’t walk away, always an eye for a bargain. The last time we went there it was to panic buy as many plants as we could fit in the car but more of that another time….

We have planted many annual seeds this week, determined to make a proper impact with our cutting garden. Sweet peas will feature heavily as will all our favourites from last year. I am also trying out some varieties we didn’t have time to grow; ammi, gypsophila, echinacea and large quantities of cerinthe are a priority. The trees at the bottom of our garden had a much needed trim. Glenn had his eye on the logs as potential mushroom growing hosts. It turns out almost any wood is good apart from ash and sycamore. Guess what the trees are we had chopped? Plans B, C, D; wildlife homes, structure in garden, burn in outdoor woodburner.

The next few months are set to be busy but a lot of fun. Our new found passion has taken our lives in a direction we hadn’t considered a year ago and it all began with an email.

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Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea; It’s All Glenn’s Fault