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Gardener's Question Time second successful year at Ness

BBC Radio 4 Gardeners' Question Time (GQT) Summer Garden Party: Saturday, 7th September 2013

After last year when it seemed the sun shone brightly on the day for the first time that summer, it was difficult to
guess at the outset just how the weather - and the day itself - would pan out. As it happened, apart from a couple of very light showers through the day, the sun came out and everyone had a great Summer Garden Party. It was, again, the biggest audience attended event that BBC Radio 4 have put on so far this year - anywhere in the UK - with the audience heralding mainly from the North West.

BBC Radio 4 gardening experts including Eric Robson, Peter Gibbs, Bob Flowerdew, Pippa Greenwood, Toby
Buckland, Bunny Guinness, Matthew Wilson, Matthew Biggs, Anne Swithinbank, Alison Pringle and James Wong took up residence in the Gardens, offering wise gardening advice on all sorts of subjects. Bob Flowerdew talked about useful
garden tools and Matt Wilson discussed creating gardens that don't shun wildlife and don't look like the contents of a washing machine - empty in the middle with all the plants squashed around the edges. Ness experts - including those from the University of Liverpool - also contributed with their own demonstrations on budding and grafting and propagation techniques and others illustrated how to produce spectacular floral displays at this time of year. As one guest put it, it was a show "by gardeners for gardeners".

The two Radio 4 show recordings completed on the day - the Summer Garden Party show and the Ness Gardens show - will be broadcast during the next two weekends in September (13th /15th and 20th /22nd).

Kevin Reid, Director of Ness gardens commented "Once again we have shown the gardening world that we can put on a show that may be smaller scale than the Tatton Show in July but which is just as entertaining and educational.
The GQT expert gardeners seemed happy to get stuck into our Ness demonstrations as well as their own. Again, we've been overwhelmed by the very positive comments posted to our team by email and social media."

As an example, one party guest commented afterwards: "Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make it a memorable day. Please, please can it become an annual event? It is seldom something so good comes to the North."

What was different this year was the separate food stage and the carefully selected food stalls to complement the
demonstrations including local producers of honey, chutney, eggs and a market gardener who was selling beautiful vegetables. BBC Masterchef 2010 winner Claire Lara - head chef at The RiverHill in Oxton - cooked with mackerel and a
surprise basket of produce from Ness Gardens; Anju Chandna gave us all a glimpse and a gorgeous taste of Indian street food aided by James Wong and Alison Pringle; Yasmin Limbert, Quarter-finalist in the popular BBC Great British Bake Off Show, produced a very seasonal Apple Tray Bake with help from Matt Biggs; and Malcolm William of Little Eye Bakery, West Kirby Wirral showed us all how to create a sourdough loaf.

The food presenters were all delighted with the day: "I had so much fun at Ness" said Yasmin, "It was lovely to get such a warm welcome from the audience and have the opportunity to get some allotment advice from the GQT team and pass on some cooking tips to them."

13 September 2013