Tuesday 11 October 2011

What a weekend (aka I love Carol Klein)

Look at me and my NBF!
I think I need to pinch myself as I have just had the most surreal and wonderful birthday weekend. It all started at 8am on Friday morning when Carol Klein and the BBC Gardeners World film crew arrived to film my garden for a slot which was about jungle/exotic style gardening and putting the garden to bed for the winter.

I have always loved Carol Klein, and having her come to film was a birthday wish come true. For my non UK readers who have no idea who she is, she is basically British gardening royalty, and the most famous and recognisable of lady gardening presenters. Even the young builder from upstairs recognised her ‘ey, isn’t she that bird from telly?’ he asked as he swept the front porch for the third time that day.....

Whenever you watch tv you always wonder whether off screen ‘stars’ would be like you imagined them to be, and if nice people are actually real divas. Carol was just as I had imagined (lovely and not a troublesome diva) and great fun to spend the day with, as were the whole crew as they were just genuinely nice people.

The whole operation was a lot more slimmed down than I had thought. I wondered if I would hear Carol’s arrival as I imagined the house shaking as her Winnebago pulled up, but she stayed in a Travel lodge with the others. There wasn’t even a makeup crew or catering van... I had to get over my fears of how I would look on HD with my forehead shine, and Carol had to sort herself out once she found her lippy in her tea bag box. She clearly is not getting the recognition she deserves!

I knew that TV takes a lot longer to film than you think, but I was amazed at how many takes each section took as you have to do it a few times to get it right, then remember what you said and repeat it, do shots from different angles and then if you touch a plant/do something with your hands they then want a close up of this too! This was all to a backdrop of a very noisy garden as next door to the right the builders were drilling, to the other side they were piling and digging with a JCB, then there were airplanes overhead and the railway. The poor sound guy looked a little frustrated at times.  Each time they shot they also did say 'Action' which always made me giggle and feel just that little bit Hollywood!
Carol and my big banana

I had a funny feeling that we were being followed
The essence of the slot was about how to sustain/use plants for the exotic effect so we looked at how you could use annuals with a shot of  Ricinus and Kangeroo apple, then close up at Tithonia and collecting seeds. Then we looked at hardy plants you could use to get the effect looking first at the Calla lilly and then Clerondendron bungeii (wich sounds fabulous said in a Lanacshire accent). We finished with digging up a Musa sikkimensis which was then wrapped for the winter (to protect, not put under the Xmas tree)....if we had more time we would do a tepee for the Basjoo which stays in the ground but we decided against this.

I think the only part where my enthusiasm began to wane was digging up the banana (then replanting it twice) then wrapping it, unwrapping it, wrapping it again a couple of times. When I thought we were done we then completely unwrapped it again in order to reattach a couple of leaves to do a close up of cutting the leaf off....ah the magic of tv!

The most amusing bit was the last part of the day as it was getting a bit late and the light was going, but they hadn’t yet managed to do the introduction sequence walking up to the house...they had to keep re-filming as cars kept coming up the road with their headlights on ruining the magic.

So all in all a fabulous day...with all the repetition it could have been very dull, but I was lucky that the film crew were some of the nicest people I have met in ages. Carol was also a real hoot to spend the day with, and it was great to talk plants and have a giggle.

That evening I went for my bday dinner eating Kazakhstani food complete with bellydancing in a bit of a surreal haze, and had to remind myself what had actually happened. The next day we then went to Norfolk to spend the weekend making the pilgrimage to Will Giles garden, Amultree exotics and Urban Jungle.

I love Will Giles as his book is pretty much my gardening Bible, and seeing his garden in the flesh was a real treat. He has a lovely collection of plants, and spookily my own garden felt quite similar. He uses his spaces well with lots of different areas including a great covered passage, huts, fountains and flint walls.

Will Giles's fabulous treehouse

So beautiful! I want it all starting with the Schleffera....
I also took the opportunity to see Urban Jungle which I have used for mail order. It was a great nursery packed with well grown and cared for plants and I would recommend a trip. They also have a little garden and it was inspiring to see things I hadn’t seen in the flesh before but want to grow including a Tamarillo, Leonotus and Eryngium pandanifolium.

Finally we went to Amultree exotics, which I didn’t have a hugely positively opinion of as last year I wasn’t that impressed with their mail order but figured I should go as we were in the area, however it was great! As we walked round and chatted to the owner I was really impressed by his diversity of plants including many things I had no idea about. They also have a 50% sale, and it was my birthday so there was a huge amount of impulse buying and the car was so full by the end. I got loads of things I’m excited about including Cyathea brownei, Musa Chini-Champa, some Musa’s I’ve never heard of, Phyllostachys Shanghai 3, Phyllostachys propinqua  and lots more

Urban Jungle garden

I thought I may have to ask Steven to walk, but we managed to fit it all in!
So all in all a rather fabulous weekend, I couldn’t have asked for better. Whether or not the filming makes it to the program I’m not sure (if it does it will probably be on 28th Oct) however I had a truly fabulous day with Carol and the team on Friday which is still bringing a smile to my face.


  1. Happy Birthday! What a wonderful weekend for you...I wish we had a hope of seeing your TV moment over here in the U.S., maybe it will end up in the pages of the magazine someday? (that we do get, although on a bit of a delay). Lovely shot of a very full car!

  2. Happy Birthday and well done on getting featured! Looking forward to seeing the episode on GW :) It's interesting to know what actually happens behind the scenes, on what actually happens when GW films private gardens. Lovely haul of plants too!

  3. Lovely blog! And how exciting to meet Carol. Her voice and her familiarity with those Latin names is so cozy. Love!
    Hannah C xxxx

  4. Thanks all! everything about Carol was wonderful and I could chat and hear her forever...

    I am glad of my haul, but having the questioning feeling of where are they going to go! Im also begining to buy more and more properly tender things which I need to stop as I dont have space

  5. Very Happy belated birthday. Great seeing you a couple weeks ago. Garden is lovely, and I can't imagine them not using you and your garden. Either way what fun:) Now about the new plants....hhhhmmm, I think you need about 3 more car loads. You and Steve will have to get another job to pay for them. Take care, Liz.