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Popular show returns to Birmingham NEC after a year off
Gardens inspired by James Bond, cycling, the British coastline and holidays in Cornwall are some of the highlights of this year's BBC Gardeners' World Live at Birmingham NEC. Because of the COVID pandemic the show last took place in 2019 - and this year it's a 'Special Edition', meaning that it's being staged a couple of months later than its usual June slot, is smaller in size and is mainly outdoors, but the standard of the show gardens and the Beautiful Borders exhibits is as high as ever.
A Very British Affair (above) is a show garden created for a young couple who are fans of Ian Fleming and his literary creation, James Bond. There are Martinis (shaken, not stirred) ready for drinking and Bond-inspired murals on the wall. Low maintenance, sleek and sophisticated, this is a perfect garden for relaxation and entertaining.
For the more active gardener, On Your Bike! (below) may be up your street. Designed by Hana Leonard, it's based around a colourful velodrome-style track, with colourful planting and lots of recycling and upcycling.
The scent, sounds and sights of the coast have inspired The Sea Garden (below). It includes a sunken chill-out zone with a sand floor, a fisherman's hut which opens up to reveal an outdoor kitchen, and a seat made of an old upturned boat on the pebble beach. A screen of driftwood stakes provides an informal boundary to the paved dining area, and a water feature bubbles up through the pebbles.
Coastal holidays also inspire Staycation Tropical Cornwall (below), designed by Kim Parish. The garden celebrates the horticultural opportunities the mild climate of Cornwall offers, with lush tropical planting. It aims to create a private sanctuary in a small outdoor space.
Space, or the lack of it, is often a problem for the keen gardener who wants to plant as much as possible but only has a small patch of land. The Beautiful Borders at Gardeners' World Live demonstrate how to make the most of very limited space, using a variety of materials.
Carpe Diem (above) features thousands of tin can lids to line the bed and decorate a sundial, reflecting light like solar panels. The border celebrates solar power and is filled with flowers like daisies and sunflowers which move with the sun, while grasses and fiery shrubs capture the sun and make the border glow.
Also full of colour is the Dixter Inspired Border (below), which draws on the exuberant planting of the late Christopher Lloyd's garden at Great Dixter in Sussex. The plants have been chosen to provide exciting and creative colour combinations which are also beneficial to wildlife and can be replicated at home. The designer Victoria Legge first visited Great Dixter as a child and later volunteered at the garden which inspired her career change into horticulture.
Plant flowers and bees will come. That's the message of Flower Power For The Bees (below), a bright and cheerful space for the bees and pollinators to thrive. The rustic vibe is emphasised with a potting shed and brick pathway.
The undercover section of Gardeners' World Live is the Floral Marquee where dozens of nurseries and growers are showing their best exhibits. Dotted around the stands are vintage vehicles and tools, provided by the Black Country Living Museum, including a 100-year-old delivery van (pictured below).