Gardeners World Live 2016: Show Gardens

Take a look at my pick from the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

The weather may not have been perfect, but the show gardens were still looking beautiful when I visited Gardener’s World Live last weekend.

I was lucky enough to be given a press pass for the show, so I spent two days looking around. Earlier in the week, I posted my show highlights from the Gardener’s World Live and Good Food Show Summer exhibition. In this post, I’m posting a lot more photos from the show gardens – it’s going to be a photo heavy post, but I think it’s worth it!

The Green Connection, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

This was my personal favourite garden – The Green Connection, which was designed by Jean Wardrop & Alexandra Stevenson. This was one of the winners of the APL Avenue Show Garden Competition in association with the Association of Professional Landscapers. Although I do admire the bigger show gardens, this is a garden that I’d love to have at my own home. The Gardener’s World Life show judges gave this garden a Silver-Merit award.

green-connection-2016-2The Green Connection, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

Can’t you just imagine sitting out at this table on a lovely summer’s evening? The table lifts away when not in use, so that you have more space to use – perfect for a smaller garden. I love the fact that the designers also included lots of little nooks and crannies where wildlife can make their own home.

Urban Nature, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

I also really loved Urban Nature, designed by Claudia Yong. It portrays a garden that a retired couple might have behind their house on the outskirts of Birmingham. This design is full of ideas that you could use in your own garden, and won a Silver-Merit award. There’s a surprise hidden behind that fence…

Urban Nature, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

The garden also included a very realistic wild-flower area to attract as much nature as possible. I loved this idea – I’ve always wanted to put a beehive in our garden but it doesn’t really work with kids and a dog running around! This garden won the People’s Choice award at the show.

Next up is Eat and Shelter, which won a Gold Award.

Eat and Shelter, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

It was hard to get decent photos because of the huge crowds around the garden. That might have had something to do with the fact that Joe Swash was filming for Gardener’s World while I was there! Eat and Shelter was designed by Michael John McGarr, and would be perfect for someone who likes to do lots of cooking and entertaining in their garden. There’s also plenty of screening to give privacy, while the planting is wildlife-friendly. I love the colour combinations in this design.

Mark and I had split opinions on the next garden, which probably isn’t surprising seeing as it is called The Man Garden. It’s designed by Robert Grinstead, and received a Bronze award from the show judges.

The Man Garden, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

The brief for this garden is that it is designed for a client who is a bachelor, and who wants a cutting-edge garden where he can impress colleagues and friends. The planting is modern, and the screening gives a sense of seclusion. I’m really not the target audience for this particular design, and found it hard to warm to.

The Man Garden, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

Mark and I really disagreed over this seating area. He thought it looked secluded and cosy, I thought it looked hard and uncomfortable. We both like the idea of seating out in the garden, but would prefer a chiminea or fire pit that you can cosy up in front of, rather than the fireplace in this design.

The Association of Professional Landscapers at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016This is more my kind of seating area – this was next to the Association of Professional Landscapers stand. I’d very happily curl up in one of those seats with a glass of wine on a warm evening!

I found it difficult to get decent photos from some of the Beautiful Borders, because of their long narrow shape. It was hard to get everything in when they are surrounded by people. Luckily, my favourite Beautiful Border was more square in shape, so it was easier to photograph!

The Life Changing Garden, one of the Beautiful Borders at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

This is The Life Changing Garden, designed by Deborah Stubbs and Amanda Field who are horticultural therapists at Thrive. It’s based upon the classic novel The Secret Garden, about a young girl whose parents die and who finds solace in a locked walled garden at her new home. This was given a Silver award.

The bigger show gardens are usually more conceptual than the smaller gardens – not many of us have a canal boat in the back garden…

The Canal Boat Garden, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

This is The Canal Boat Garden, designed by Paul Stone, and I’m so pleased that it received a Gold Award.
The Canal Boat Garden, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

The garden celebrates Birmingham’s canals, and features gorgeous rooftop planting as well as a very realistic wildflower meadow. In fact it was so realistic, that I saw some people stepping onto the meadow, not realising that it was part of the garden – eek!

The Allotment Garden was designed by Jon Wheatley to be as close as possible to a real working allotment.

The Allotment Garden, one of the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

The designer crammed an unbelievable amount of produce into the area they were given, it’s a great inspiration for anyone who has just taken on an allotment.

The Best Show Garden award went to the Health for Life Community Garden, designed by Owen Morgan.

The Health for Life Community Garden, awarded Best Show Garden at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

The Health for Life initiative encourages community groups, primary and secondary schools to grow their own vegetables, fruits and herbs in a bid for a healthier and more enjoyable lifestyle. The garden design was packed with useful features such as raised beds, a green roof on the shed, and pallets repurposed as a bike rack.

The Health for Life Community Garden, awarded Best Show Garden at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

This garden was always packed full of people looking around, and won a Gold Award from the show judges.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through my round-up of the Show Gardens. Check back soon to see photos from the Gardener’s World Live Floral Marquee, and the Good Food Show Summer.

Take a look at my pick from the show gardens at the Gardener's World Live Exhibition, held at the NEC Birmingham in June 2016

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