We’re excited to share that Gardeners’ Question Time recently came to the Botanic Garden to record one of its regular postbag episodes for the long-running radio programme.
Co-presenter and chair, Peter Gibbs was joined by a panel of gardening experts – landscape and garden designer Bunny Guinness; ethnobotanist and garden designer James Wong and Head Gardener of Horatio’s Garden, London and South East, Ashley Edwards. They also invited CUBG’s Head of Horticulture, Sally Petitt to join the panel and take them on a tour of the Garden!
The episode will be played across the airwaves on Friday 1 December, 3pm and again on Sunday 3 December, 2pm. We hope you’ll tune in!
Sally welcomed the team and enjoyed showing them the Garden, stopping at interesting and relevant areas as Peter selected questions from the show’s listeners for the panel to answer. The autumn rain didn’t deter the hardy gardeners who had great fun answering as many of the questions as possible ‘huddled up’ around the microphone – much to our visitors’ intrigue!
Sally says: “It was a joy to welcome the GQT team to the Garden. We’ve hosted the show here in the past but recording the postbag episode is completely different, mainly because it’s outside, providing us with a wonderful opportunity to show our collection of plants to some very knowledgeable gardeners! We wandered around the Garden, looking at a variety of landscapes and plants. The panel were really keen to hear about the history of the Garden and find out more about what we do. It felt a real honour to be invited to contribute – it was great fun and tested the horticultural grey matter!!”
It’s wonderful to come to a place like this and tap into expert knowledge of people like Sally who know their patch really well. It’s also hard work getting a bunch of panellists around a botanic garden, because they want to stop and look at plants every two minutes!
The panel do not have any prior knowledge of the questions being asked. Sally adds: “It was really interesting discussing the questions put to the team, who all chip in with different ideas and advice, literally thinking on their feet. Being put on the spot like that really shows how experienced and knowledgeable they are and it was fun discussing a variety of ideas and solutions! The questions were wide-ranging and we were able to find some of the plants listeners were asking about – which led to even more discussion – especially about our large conifer Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Winston Churchill’ in the Winter Garden which became quite a controversial talking point!”
The panel visited the Systematic Beds, Winter Garden and warmed up in the Glasshouse Range, much to James Wong’s delight as an expert in tropical plants. Bunny Guiness marvelled at the size of the Garden and commented on how lucky Cambridge is, having such a large and diverse green space in the heart of the city. It was a first visit for Ashley Edwards who loved exploring, finding out more about the collection and promised to return.
Peter Gibbs said: “It’s wonderful to come to a place like this and tap into expert knowledge of people like Sally who know their patch really well. It’s also hard work getting a bunch of panellists around a botanic garden, because they want to stop and look at plants every two minutes!”
We’re really grateful to the Gardeners’ Question Time team for visiting and featuring CUBG. We hope you’ll tune in and enjoy a virtual tour of the Garden with the team, along with their answers to those perennial gardening conundrums.