Fans of the great outdoors can look forward to a spectacular celebration of spring plants, gardens and gardening over the first weekend in May (Friday 3 – Sunday 5 May 2024) when the BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair returns to Beaulieu in the beautiful New Forest.
Whether you’re an experienced grower, a complete gardening beginner or just enjoy time spent in the garden with friends and family, this year’s bigger, better Spring Fair has something for everyone, with seasonal gardening inspiration and achievable, take-home ideas throughout.
Visitors can look forward to stunning show gardens and floral displays, stages featuring friendly advice from Gardeners’ World TV presenters and magazine editors, hands-on workshops and demonstrations by expert horticultural hosts, garden tours, plants to browse and buy, and more.
With exciting new features and a new show layout, it’s the perfect spring day out and tickets are on sale now.
Headline sponsor, Hillier, will present the Spring Fair’s central feature – a stunning woodland-themed seasonal show garden with shade-friendly planting, flowers and bulbs. Plant information will be available throughout to inspire visitors’ own garden plans, with advice pods and a large retail area stocked with Hillier plants and garden accessories, plus expert horticultural advice from Hillier’s nursery team on the main stage.
New for 2024 is the Get Growing Stage, an exciting, informal drop-in space that’s dedicated to the joy of home growing, hosted by horticultural broadcaster, author and award-winning podcaster, Ellen Mary. Well-known faces from the world of ‘Grow Your Own’ will be sharing their top tips, including Jason Williams (Cloud Gardener UK), flower farmer, Kim O’Brien, mushroom growers, Caley Brothers, and chefs from The Pig and Lime Wood hotel.
Also new is the Plant Expert Workshop Marquee, where visitors can take part in a range of practical activities led by plant experts Lucy Chamberlain, Saul Walker and Rosy Hardy, founder of Hampshire-based nursery, Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants. The expert team will host a daily programme of bookable, hands-on workshops to boost your growing know-how. Workshop themes include Peat-Free Propagation, 10 Essentials of Grow Your Own, and Keeping Healthy Houseplants.
Another brand-new Spring Fair highlight for 2024 is an exclusive fine dining invitation from Gardeners’ World presenter, Adam Frost, and Lime Wood Chef Director, Luke Holder. To make an already fabulous day at the Spring Fair extra special, the duo will be hosting a one-of-a-kind, limited availability Supper Club at Lime Wood on Saturday 4 May with a menu featuring locally sourced produce, including fruit and veg from Lime Wood’s greenhouse and kitchen garden. Guests will experience Lime Wood’s laidback luxury while enjoying drinks, relaxed conversation with the evening’s hosts, and a set menu supper served at banqueting style tables in The Scullery. Tickets are £185 per person and are extremely limited. Early booking is advised. The Supper Club is sponsored by Regent Seven Sea Cruises.
At the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Stage, special guests Frances Tophill (Friday), Adam Frost (Saturday), and – new for 2024 – Sue Kent (Saturday) and Rachel de Thame (Sunday) will be joining the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine’s editors to share seasonal gardening advice.
Seasonal plants get top billing as stars of the show at the Spring Fair, with more than thirty specialist plant nurseries and growers to browse and buy from, and a wide range of high-quality retailers selling garden accessories, décor, tools, equipment and furniture. Volunteers from Maggie’s Cancer Care in Southampton will be hosting a Plant Crèche and Wheelbarrow Porter Service for hands-free plant shopping. Donations to the charity will be very gratefully received.
The Spring Fair’s Showcase Gardens, College Garden competition, and compact Beautiful Borders are sure to inspire with their creative designs and imaginative planting. Showcase Gardens include: The Inner Dancer by Matt Le Gassick, a tribute to the legendary dance choreographer and director, Dame Gillian Lynne; The Retreat by Marc Buirski (2 Forks and a Spade), a woodland-inspired mindfulness garden for schoolchildren and staff; A Forest of Calm, by Leigh Johnstone (aka The Beardy Gardener) and Lily Clarke, inspired by the New Forest National Park and the mental health benefits of being in nature; and Garden of Life by Mountbatten Hampshire Hospice.
At 9m2, the Beautiful Borders are miniature, show gardens, packed with design elements and brimming with ideas for small spaces and challenging places. This year’s Beautiful Borders theme is ‘Share My Space’. Entries include The Kettle’s On by Catherine Butcher (Plants For Design) and Tiffany Passmore, A New Leaf by Alison Firth and BCHA Learn (Bournemouth Churches Housing Association), Together by Andrew Williamson and Laura Hall for Maggie’s Southampton, Once upon a time by Minstead Trust; The Synthesis Border by Pamela Barden (Painted Fern Garden Design); and three seasonal, edible Borders by Jon Wheatley (Stonebarn Landscapes).
In the College Garden competition, landscaping and horticultural students from Merrist Wood College in Guildford, Plumpton College in East Sussex, and Capel Manor College in London will be showcasing their skills. Award-winning garden designer, Cherry Carmen (BBC Gardeners’ World Live Gold medallist), will mentor the college teams as they create budget-friendly garden designs with a ‘Gardening in a Challenging Climate’ theme.
For visitors feeling inspired to make some garden changes, the Association of Professional Landscapers will be running a brand-new drop-in Landscaping and Design Clinic. Qualified member designers and landscapers will be on hand throughout the show to answer any questions.
Want to make your visit to the BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair extra special? Why not book a Plant Expert Tour of Beaulieu’s Victorian walled gardens with Lucy Chamberlain, Saul Walker, Tamsin Westhorpe, or Beaulieu Head Gardener, Kelvin Yapp, a Spring Garden Floristry Workshop with award-winning flower grower, Kim O’Brien (@dahliafarmerama), or an Oyster Mushroom Workshop with the Sussex-based Caley Brothers. All are bookable in advance. There will also be drop-in tours of the Abbey Cloisters herb gardens.
A great day out requires something delicious to eat and drink, and the Spring Fair’s BBC Good Food Market offers just that. There’s a tempting array of artisan food and drink producers and street food vendors offering mouth-watering seasonal flavours, all accompanied by live, toe-tapping music at the Bandstand. At Beaulieu’s Victorian Kitchen, located in Palace House, TV food presenter, Chris Bavin, will be introducing chefs and kitchen gardeners from the New Forest’s The Pig and Lime Wood Hotels who will be sharing an extended programme of daily ‘field to fork’ recipes to try at home.
Free, hands-on gardening activities for children are available at the Budding Little Gardeners’ Workshops area, featuring a timetable of daily drop-in sessions. From mulching compost into soil to planting baby plants to grow at home, the workshops are linked to the National Curriculum (Key Stage 1) with take-home worksheets. Young visitors can enjoy exploring the Little Beaulieu adventure playground, Monorail Skytrain, woodland walks and medieval abbey ruins too.
Tickets for the BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair include access to all of Beaulieu’s grounds, gardens and attractions, including Palace House and the National Motor Museum.
Lucy Tremlett, Head of Horticultural Division at Immediate Live, organisers of BBC Gardeners’ World Events, said: “It’s our fourth Spring Fair at Beaulieu and we can’t wait to be back with an even bigger, better show that’s packed with exciting new highlights. We’re passionate about plants and we know visitors are too, so it’s wonderful to see their smiles when stocking up on new varieties, feeling inspired by the show gardens, and enjoying learning something new from the show’s presenters and experts. With tasty food and drink to enjoy and Beaulieu’s grounds, gardens and attractions to explore too, the BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair really is a great spring day out.”
Rachael Goldstraw, Head of Marketing & Business Development at Beaulieu Enterprises, said: “The BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair is a real highlight of our year at Beaulieu, and we can’t wait to share this year’s new features. The Spring Fair never fails to inspire visitors with exciting new ideas for their gardens and growing spaces at home. Whether they’re window box beginners or experienced gardeners, seeing visitors exploring the show, enjoying all that Beaulieu has to offer, and leaving with armfuls of new plants is a wonderful experience for us.”
Tickets for the BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair at Beaulieu are on sale now, with a wide range of options available. www.bbcgardenersworldfair.com
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