Gardeners flocked to a Neston tourist attraction during the 70th anniversary of a popular BBC radio show.
To mark the significant event for BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, the programme’s annual garden party returned to Liverpool University’s internationally respected botanic gardens at Ness.
The popular show was first broadcast on April 9, 1947 when a panel of expert gardeners answered questions from members of an allotments association.
It has dealt with well over 35,000 questions since then with its mixture of light-hearted banter and good gardening sense.
Ness explains that 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.
The gardens at Ness hold the record as the location which has drawn the largest crowds in the garden parties’ history with over 5,000 people attending the summer garden parties held there in 2012 and 2013. This tradition was continued with 2,500 people attending this year’s sold out event.
Each of the recordings was said to have attracted 1,000 people. In addition visitors enjoyed one-to-one Potting Shed sessions with the panel, browsed the BBC Gardeners’ Question Time Museum and spent time around food, plant and wildlife fairs.
A variety of walks, talks, demonstrations and guided tours were also on offer covering topics such as the highlights of Ness, wildlife and composting, food preparation and the latest academic research from the University of Liverpool.
In all, four programmes are being broadcast from the garden party with the highlights from the Potting Shed sessions on air in a separate edition on October 20 and 22.
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 with Gardeners’ Question Time chairmen Eric Robson and Peter Gibbs.
Zoë Chapman, business manager at Ness, said: “It was a genuine pleasure to work so closely with the BBC Gardeners’ Question Time team in the hosting of such a wonderful and historic event. We hope that each and every one of our visitors enjoyed the day.”
Darby Dorras, the BBC’s senior producer for the programme, said: “Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in many Gardeners’ Question Time 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 Gardeners’ Question Time team when I say that memories of the event will stay with me for many years to come.”
The gardens at Ness were created in 1898 by Cheshire born businessman and botanist Arthur Kilpin Bulley to grow and introduce plants to the UK from numerous plant hunting expeditions.
Mr Bulley, said to have been responsible for introducing hundreds of new botanical species to the UK, also set up the Bees Seeds which was the third biggest seed company in the country.
The 64 acres of landscaped gardens, woodland and wildflower meadows attract over 70,000 visitors every year.