BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time returns to Ness

BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time returns to Ness

To mark the 70th anniversary of BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time, the programme’s annual Garden Party returned to Ness on 16 September 2017.

The popular show was first broadcast on 9 April 1947 when a panel of expert gardeners answered questions from members of the Smallshaw Allotments Association. Over the years, it has answered well over 35,000 questions with its mixture of light-hearted banter and good gardening sense.  In addition to the weekly broadcasts from a variety of venues from gardening clubs through to the Palace of Westminster, the show also holds an annual garden party.

As part of the 70th anniversary celebrations, the garden party returned to Ness Botanic Gardens - the location which has drawn the largest crowds in the event’s history. Over five thousand people attended the summer garden parties held at Ness in 2012 and 2013 and this tradition was continued with 2500 people attending this year’s sold out event.

1000 people were present for each of the recordings.  In addition to the recordings, visitors enjoyed one-to-one Potting Shed sessions with the panel, browsed the BBC GQT Museum and wandered around the Food, Plant and Wildlife fairs.  As well as all of this activity, a variety of walks, talks, demonstrations and guided tours were available, covering such diverse topics as Highlights of Ness, Wildlife and Composting, Food Preparation and the latest academic research from the University of Liverpool.

The first programme recording will be broadcast on Friday 22 September with a longer version on Sunday 24 of September, then the second recording will be broadcast the following 29 September and 1 October. All the highlights from the Potting Shed Sessions will be broadcast in a separate, third edition on 20 and 22 of October.

As ever, the party featured the pick of the crop of gardening gurus, including Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness, Matthew Wilson, Anne Swithinbank, James Wong, Matthew Biggs, Pippa Greenwood, Roy Lancaster, Nick Hamilton and Rosie Yeomans and Gardeners' Question Time chairmen Eric Robson and Peter Gibbs.

Zoë Chapman, Business Manager at Ness Botanic Gardens said “ It was a genuine pleasure to work so closely with the BBC GQT Team in the hosting of such a wonderful and historic event.  We hope that each and every one of our visitors enjoyed the day and look forward to hearing the broadcasts.”

Darby Dorras, Senior Producer for BBC GQT said “Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in many GQT Garden Parties but I can certainly say that this year was special, with thousands of keen gardeners turning out to mark our programme’s 70th Anniversary. I’m sure I speak on behalf of the whole GQT Team when I say that memories of Saturday will stay with me for many years to come."

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