Gardening Talks to Inspire at Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival 5th & 6th June 2015

Toby-Bowood-Matt-Austin-31Picnic landscapeSome of Britain’s most distinguished and celebrated garden experts are descending on Bowood House & Gardens this June 5th & 6th with a range of enthralling talks and ideas to inspire all garden enthusiasts. From nine to ninety, novice or seasoned veteran, gardeners will receive superb advice from some of the very best experts and growers in the country. Read more about the festival  here.  More about the talks below.

Image_8Headlining will be horticulturist and gardening broadcaster, Toby Buckland, giving talks on herbs and other useful plants including advice on planning and planting. Other garden stars include: Anne Swithinbank of Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time; James Wong discussing his new Book “Grow for Flavour”; Roy Lancaster, distinguished tree expert and plant explorer and BBC 2’s The Big Allotment Challenge presenters, Jim Buttress and Jonathan Moseley entertaining us in the Speaker’s Marquee.

The ‘Inspirations Marquee’ will also have over a dozen gripping slots filled with gardening treasures during the two day event: Graham Harvey agricultural story adviser to The Archers will be speaking out for earth in this ‘International Year of Soil”, learn how to become bee friendly with Paul Jupp of ‘Meadow in my Garden’ or join the debate about the value of our allotments, fast disappearing under pressure from land developments; and if you haven’t heard of Mexican Mouse Melon then stop by and hear all about them from Pennard Plants, a Somerset nursery with one of the most remarkable collections of “Incredible Edibles”….

See the speakers schedule below and book your tickets. All talks are free within the ticket price and there are many other demonstrations and activities throughout the festival


Festival opening times from 10am-5pm both days


10.30 TOBY BUCKLAND welcome and intro to the festival

10.45 Roy Lancaster a lifetime in gardening and plant exploration

11.30 James Wong 
Ethno-botanist, enthusiast of unusual vegetables
. James talks about his new book “Growing for Flavour”

12.30 Jim Buttress – interview Gardening Great, RHS Judge, ex-superintendent Royal Parks, BBC Big Allotment Challenge judge

1.15 Kevin Croucher – well known and sometimes controversial nursery owner and plantsman. “Killing them with kindness. How not to plant trees”

14.00 Toby Buckland, President of The Herb Society, talks about “Herbs and other Useful Plants”

14.45 Jonathan Moseley, floral artist, famous for creating amazing flowery displays and floral judge on BBC2’s Big Allotment Challenge

15.30 Q and A with Toby Buckland, James Wong, Jim Buttress and Kevin Croucher

James Wong ©Ph Patrick Drummond FRIDAY – INSPIRATIONS MARQUEE

10.45 George Plumptre, Chief Executive of NGS, talks about his fascinating book “The English Country Garden”

11.30 Graham Harvey, agricultural story adviser to The Archers and soil expert. UN designated International Year of Soil 2015.

“The multiple roles of soils often go unnoticed. Soils don’t have a voice, and few people speak out for them. They are our silent ally in food production.” José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General

12.30 Roy Lancaster, world class gardener, arborist and plantsman

13.15 -14.15 Saving Our Allotments Debate: Allotments are disappearing due to rising land prices and pressure of housing needs. Good for our health? Community asset? Encouraging young gardeners? We discuss.

14.30 James Wong – interview – An opportunity to learn more about the life and work of ethno botanist and champion of growing flavoursome vegetables

15.15 Paul Jupp, Paul Jupp runs “Meadow In My Garden” a company offering a range of wild flower seeds and practical products designed to connect with nature, stimulate the senses, soothe the spirit” “Creating a wild flower meadow and bee friendly garden”

 SATURDAY 6th Main Marquee:

Toby and Anne Swithinbank

Toby and Anne Swithinbank

10.30 Toby Buckland welcome

10.45 Anne Swithinbank “SHOPPING AT THE SHOW” Much respected, Anne is a gardener with huge experience. Regular contributor to Gardeners Question Time and successful author, Anne will be talking about her favourite finds at the show

11.30 Jim Buttress – Interview –  Gardening Great, RHS Judge, ex-superintendent Royal Parks, BBC Big Allotment Challenge judge

12.15 Toby Buckland, President of The Herb Society, talks about “Herbs and other Useful Plants”

13.30 Jonathan Moseley, floral artist, famous for creating amazing displays

14.30 Anne Swithinbank – “My Devon Garden” Anne has created a very special garden in Devon filled with her favourite plants

15.30 Q and A with Toby Buckland, Anne Swithinbank, Jim Buttress

SATURDAY 6TH Inspirations Marquee: 

11.00 Chris Smith, Pennard Plants. Chelsea Gold Medal Winner and grower of extraordinary plants ”Incredible Edibles”

11.45 Rosy Hardy, Hardy Cottage Plants “Seasonal Perennials” Another Chelsea Gold Medal winner, Rosy is a vastly experienced and respected plantswoman, producing the prettiest of cottage garden plants.

12.30 Marcel Floyd, Floyds Climbers “Clematis” Well known grower of beautiful, showy clematis and other climbers

13.15 Jane Moore, Head Gardener Bath Priory and now Exec gardener of all Andrew Brownsword Hotels “All year round colour and form in the garden”

14.00 Steve Hickman, Agapanthus, holds National collection of these glorious flowers

14.45 Jim Buttress interview (30 mins) Gardening great, RHS Judge, ex- Superintendent Royal Parks, BBC Big Allotment Challenge judge

15.00 Anita Nowinska is best known for her sensuous big flower paintings which have found international acclaim with private and corporate collectors. Her work focuses on the intricate detail of flowers and nature blown up on a large scale.
Anita Nowinska2
Clients claim that the paintings have deeply emotive properties, changing mood, providing relaxation, invigoration and change their perspective of how they view nature. Anita will share her thoughts on how to create atmosphere, mood and change emotions through the use of flowers and colour in the home and a share a few anecdotes of some interesting projects.

Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival at Bowood House and Gardens on Friday 5th June and Saturday 6th June 2015

10am- 5pm  £12.50 or advance booking online £10. Kids under 16 Free

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Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival at Bowood House & Gardens 5th & 6th June 2015

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Toby Buckland, horticulturist, writer and TV presenter brings his brand new Garden Festival a “Celebration of Summer Gardening” to Wiltshire’s Bowood House and Gardens on June 5th and 6th.

Join Toby in Wiltshire this summer, at Bowood House and Gardens to see the very best of gold medal winning nurseries. Enjoy a spectacular display of extraordinary, unusual and beautiful plants with over 100 exhibitors across the estate, children’s gardening activities, local food and craft stalls, and live music in a garden party atmosphere. Bring your picnic blanket and make a day of it.Image_8

Toby Buckland will be joined in the main speakers’ marquee by:

  • Roy Lancaster CBE – distinguished plant explorer and tree expert.
  • James Wong – TV gardener, ethno-botanist, incredible edible enthusiast.
  • Anne Swithinbank – stalwart of BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and all round font of gardening knowledge.
  • Jim Buttress – BBC2 Big Allotment Challenge and RHS Judge.
  • Jonathan Moseley – Jim’s co-judge and creative floral designer.Toby-Bowood-Matt-Austin-10FloydsclimersMarcelsittingFollowing the success of Toby’s spring festival atPowderham Castle in Devon, clematis specialist Marcel Floyd planted the idea of taking the concept toBowood House and Gardens, with which his family has long associations.Toby’s idea for his new Garden Festivals came about because he wanted to champion the smaller, specialist nurseries, to give them the chance to reach a wider audience, but also to give gardeners the opportunity to meet the growers and get the very best advice from the experts.“If you want to create a perfect English garden or even a tropical forest, you’ll find it here. Specialist Nurseries know there are customers out there looking for the interesting and unusual,” says Rosie Hardy, of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants. “It’s fantastic to gather them in one place to find plants that you won’t find anywhere else.”Rosie should know, as winner of 19 RHS gold medals, and the most successful female hardy perennial exhibitor ever at Chelsea, she is giving a talk on Saturday, perfuming the air with her cottage garden flowers. Tim Penrose specialises in plants from the time dinosaurs strode the earth and at his Bowdens stand will show frondy tree ferns and 20 foot giant bamboos; Floyd’s clematis and climbers will delight with cascades of unusual and beautiful blooms; Whetman Pinks, Devon-based breeders of Dianthus, have shaken and not stirred the pollen, to produce a magnificent innovative range of Whetman Cocktails® Pinks fresh from their first appearance at Chelsea Flower Show; Kelways, one of the oldest nurseries in UK, will be offering their famously voluptuous peonies; Heucheraholics are bringing their astonishing Technicolour Dreamcoat of these leafy, showy plants; or fancy lunch of Peruvian Ground Apple and Wonderberries? Then pop into the ‘Inspirations Marquee’ and listen to Chris Smith of Pennard Plants waxing lyrical on all his incredible edibles – just some of our award-winning exhibitors to be seen at Bowood House and Gardens.Toby-Bowood-Matt-Austin-52British flowers_2

    In addition to our gardening stars there will be be many other talks, crafts, activities and the best of food and drink.

    • British Flowers – Visitors can be garlanded with locally grown fresh flowers at the My Flower Patch Stand
    • Bees – Discover more about these important insects at the Bee Exhibit, make a candle or discover how to plant a bee friendly wild flower meadow with Meadow in My Garden
    • Earth and the Archers – Graham Harvey is agricultural story editor of The Archers and has written several books on grasslands and soil conservation, a theme he is introducing to The Archers. He will be talking in the ‘Inspirations Marquee’ about importance of good soil in gardens and in wider context of agriculture globally. 2015 has been designated “International Year of Soil” by UN.
    • Ladies’ Day – Friday. Best bonnet forward and win a prize for the most flowery hat
    • Croquet – The ultimate garden sport? Find out and have a whack with Kingston Langley Croquet Club
    • Children’s Activities – Paint a pot and plant seeds to take-away, plus giant walking insects, face painting, bouncy castle and quality entertainment from Dan the Hat.
    • Lackham College, Chippenham – award-winning students show off their skills, creating natural plant supports from willow and running Gardeners Question Time activities
    • Big Tree Climbing – offering visitors the exhilarating chance to climb some magnificent trees (safely harnessed) and experience life at the Festival from the high-flung perspective of the tree-tops
    • Music – Flower-bedecked folk band Cataclews, lively jazz bands, Brass Junkies and many more
    • Food and Drink – Drink cocktails at the ‘Buckland’s Bar’, discover the Big Red Bus pub, Truly Crumptious’ poppy covered vintage caravan, The Humble Egg in their Shepherds Hut, The Mango Hub pop up Indian café Cream teas in the Tipi Café, Eat the Smoke BBQ, and lots more delicious offerings.Wisteria in the Private Walled Garden at BowoodWhat better place for a Garden Festival? Bowood House, home of the 9th Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne, is superbly set in 2000 acres of Grade I Listed Capability Brown parkland which won the Historic Houses Association/Christie’s ‘Garden of the Year 2014’ award. Throughout the Festival visitors can sign up for specially-arranged guided tours of the Lansdownes’ private Walled Garden which will offer the perfect opportunity to discover this four-acre haven made up of four distinct one acre squares comprising formal borders, a picking garden, glass houses and a working kitchen garden packed with fruit and vegetables. Tickets to join the 40-minute tours are priced at £10 person and can be booked on the day.So come and soak up the summer and party atmosphere with us on Friday 5th & Saturday 6th June.Toby-Bowood-Matt-Austin-74GoodonHammockwdrink“Spread your picnic blanket, listen to live music, relax and reconnect with nature and the countryside, see you there.”Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival at BowoodFriday 5th June and Saturday 6th June 2015

      10am- 5pm  £12.50 or advance booking online £10. Kids under 16 Free

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Open Lasagne with thyme, mushrooms and goats cheese

imageOur vegetarian friend came to stay so I made this tasty little supper dish which only takes about twenty minutes to cook and assemble. I didn’t have many varieties of mushroom on hand but adding interesting species like chanterelle and hairy little enoki makes a more beautiful plate.  Grilled asparagus on the side? Oh yes.

Ingredients – serves 4

500g  selection of fresh mushrooms

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

30g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

12  sheets of lasagne

salt and pepper

300g soft MILD goats cheese

350g cheese bechamel sauce. Recipe in link or use a pot of good quality sauce from the refrigerated section at the supermarket.


1. Place a large pan of water to boil.

2. Fry the mushrooms with the butter and olive oil and fresh thyme. Don’t over cook the mushrooms, better a little raw than sweaty and collapsed. Set aside and keep warm.

3. When the water is at a full boil, drop in the lasagne quickly, a sheet at a time and follow the time on the packet. Stir them gently to stop the sheets sticking together.

4. Drain the lasagne in a colander and carefully add half the cheese sauce.


5. Start with a folded sheet of dressed lasagne, followed with a couple of slices of goat cheese, a spoon of mushrooms and a few shaves of Parmesan.

6. Repeat with a second layer as above.

7. Finish with a last folded sheet of lasagne and top with cheese sauce (shared amongst four servings). Finally, top with shaves of Parmesan and a few thyme leaves (rosemary flowers added a bit of colour).

Season with Maldon sea salt and fresh black pepper and serve with a green salad.image

10 Best Things about Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival at Powderham 1st & 2nd May 2015

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After last year’s outstanding success, Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival is back at Powderham Castle on Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd May and heralds a new style of gardening show, combining expert horticultural knowledge with plenty of delicious local food, craft, live music and family fun – a great day out for everyone.

10 Things ………..

  1. It’s a festival!Image 4“I love a party,” says Toby, “for me the festival is a giant garden party where I can invite some of my favourite friends to speak and share their vast knowledge but there’s plenty more going on too, it’s a place where you can kick-back, listen to live music with a glass in one hand and fine local food in the other surrounded by beautiful plants in a stunning Devon location.”
  1. We have more specialist nurseries than anywhere in the South West, double the amount as last year!MediumGardenFest-MattAustin%0A.Matt.Austin 3_2

This is where to get best advice straight from the growers who really know their stuff. If you love gardening, this unique access to so many knowledgeable nurseries is gold dust. Whether you are looking to plant the perfect pond, discover rare raspberries or pot some pinks, you’ll find a plants-person to talk about it with here.

  1. We’ve picked another great crop of gardening experts & broadcasters.Image 1_2_2

Toby will be joined in a packed programme of talks and demo’s by gardening broadcasters: Christine Walkden, down to earth again after ballooning adventures over Britain; Bob Flowerdew, organic gardening aficionado and Gardener’s Question Time veteran; Jim Buttress and co-judge Jonathan Moseley, both fresh from BBC2’s successful series The Big Allotment Challenge, plus many other fascinating specialists from the festival ‘family’ of nursery exhibitors.

  1. The location is glorious!Powderham Castle ph RinusKool

Powderham Castle is one of England’s oldest family homes and been home to the Courtenay family since it was built by Sir Philip Courtenay in 1391. Powderham Castle is located in a beautiful setting just outside Exeter, beside the Exe estuary. The Castle is open to the public from 27th March to 30th October 2015, and provides a perfect history-laden family day out.

  1. New for 2015 – Dining under canvas Tipi

For the first time the festival will host a fun “pop-up” restaurant  BOOK now for a delicious Devon lunch from Burnicombe Farm, in High Hat tipis set in the heart of the deer park. The tipis are just one part of a whole new selection of caterers who have been hand-picked with the same care as the specialist nurseries.” Dearly loved Devon producers such as Hunters Ales, recently seen on BBC2’s ‘The Fixer’: Victoria Cranfield, famous condiment maker and winner of the “World’s Best Marmalade Award”; Pipers Farm, best butcher and meat producer at the Devon Life awards plus newcomers like ‘Two Birds Kitchen’ in their vintage caravan and ‘Just Pigs’ who do amazing and delicious things with pork. There will be talks on growing edible things too from Christine Walkden, and many others during the two days.

  1. We’re taking to the treesMediumGardenFest-MattAustin%0A.Matt.Austin 31

There’s a new dynamic element to our event as “Teign Trees and Landscapes” have climbers in the trees at the festival main entrance gateway throughout the day doing exciting tree climbing demos and challenges and will be part of our spectacular entrance ceremony. They’ll also be offering harnessed, supervised tree ‘climbs’ for children and be on hand to answer tree surgery questions and discuss conservation.

  1. Young Gardeners can get muddy in their own marquee 

Growing Devon Schools hands in compost copy

“Growing Devon Schools” will have a marquee with ‘mud kitchen’ ‘musical vegetables’, ‘compost corner’ and more, providing an opportunity to wonderfully support young children’s natural desires to explore and discover, imagine and create, relate and interact with soil. Bicton College will be in the marquee at the festival, building a garden live on site.

  1. Kitchen Cuttings – a celebration of our nursery personalities. Powderham-Flower-Matt-Austin-69 (1)

From botanical cooking to urban mushroom farming, the ‘Kitchen Cuttings’ talks & demos take place in the Castle’s Victorian Kitchen and cover a diversity of topics that take gardening into other realms of interest. Meet Chris Greenman who took inspiration from heritage tools in his grandfather’s shed to create ergonomic implements that help the gardeners back; learn the tricks from Steven Hickman, the Agapanthus Man, who runs the only nursery which dedicated to agapanthus and tulbaghia, and discover how GroCycle turn old coffee grounds into blooms of oyster mushrooms – just some our popular and intimate sessions with exceptional exhibitors.

  1. “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme…..”MediumGardenFest-MattAustin%0A.Matt.Austin 60

Toby Buckland is the new President of The Herb Society, an internationally renowned educational charity, so as part of the festival we are celebrating history, fragrance and flavour of these plants. The Herb Society are bringing a 1636 leather-bound volume of Gerard’s Herball, giving visitors an opportunity to view this 400 year old book, on a rare outing from the Society’s vaults. The St Nicholas Priory “Tudor Herbal Wives” will be demonstrating their many uses and Toby will be discussing practical modern applications of herbs with useful tips and ideas on growing and enjoying them.

  1. Everyone can come to the party.

Everyone’s invited to Toby’s festival from novice or seasoned veteran, from nine to ninety. This year a bloom-bedecked Tuk-Tuk taxi will take those less able up the Castle ramp and over the moat to the flower filled courtyard.

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Toby welcomes everyone to his festival at Powderham Castle in Devon and is also delighted to announce a second, new festival, at Bowood House and Gardens, Wiltshire on 5th and 6th June 2015. The duo of festivals will be celebrating gardening throughout the South and West.

Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival at Powderham buy tickets here

Friday 1st May and Saturday 2nd May 2015

10am- 5pm   Tickets £7.50 (or £6 if you book online now) kids under 16 are free

Directions here: Powderham Castle,  Kenton, Near Exeter, EX6 8JQ

My love affair with our NutriBullet


image This morning’s juice of spinach, cucumber, baby beetroot, strawberry, pineapple and banana.

A year has passed and I’m posting this again because my husband and I still share a green smoothie every morning and I’m glad I bought this little gizmo. Speed, that’s what I love about our NutriBullet. I used to have a juice extractor that took over an hour to produce one cup of juice – you had to chop the vegetables, ram the bits into a narrow feeder tube a little at a time, then take it apart and clean 8 different pieces with a toothbrush thingy. Ahhh! and you don’t even get the fibre. I sold it on Ebay with great joy. Now I make a fabulous fruit and veg smoothie every morning in about 30 seconds, with a nifty little machine that pulverises everything to such a smooth consistency I can suck it through a…

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Lemon Curd – Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy


Just made divine lemon curd with the girls in 1/2 an hour. It’s liquid gold and really easy to make, with a few ingredients stirred in a bowl over boiling water.

4 lemons, zest and juice
200g vanilla sugar
100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg yolk

Zest and juice the four lemons into a heat-proof glass bowl, then add the sugar and the butter.

Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.

Meanwhile, break the eggs and yolk into another bowl and whisk lightly, then stir them into the lemon mixture.

Whisk again until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for anything from 10-20 minutes, stirring every so often, until the curd is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools down.

Once cooled, resist drinking it straight from the bowl, and spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars to eat later.

This delicious elixir is much richer and sharper than shop bought curd. We recommend it on toast, stirred into Greek yoghurt, poured on porridge or just eaten straight from the jar with a big spoon.

Keep the jars in the fridge. Makes Two 250g jars


Vongole! Vongole! Vongole! with Dartmouth Clams

imageDevon clams from the Dartmouth estuary can’t be beaten at this time of year, so good in fact, that we ate them on Christmas day, followed by a stupendous turbot.

This dish tastes of the sea and makes a superb supper dish in just 15 minutes.

Serves 4


1          kilo of small washed clams

4          cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1          shallot sliced finely (optional)

3           tbls Virgin olive oil

1          a knob of butter

250 ml good, dry white wine

15 cherry tomatoes (small ones are tastier)

400g of spaghetti


1  handful of chopped fresh parsley

1 chopped fresh green chilli (optional)

Take a look at the packet instructions of your spaghetti and notice the recommended cooking time because you will need to know ( in this case,11 minutes). You will also need a timer.

Take a large pan and put it on the heat to boil.

imageMeanwhile sort through the clams and discard any that are open. Then peel and chop the garlic and shallot, measure out the wine and make sure the tomatoes, oil and butter are near at hand.

When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti with some salt, swirl it into the water and bring back to the boil. Start your timer. At the same time, place another empty pan on the stove to heat up.

With 5 minutes to go on your pasta (6 minutes into the cooking time for mine), add the olive oil and butter to the hot, empty pan. Throw in the garlic and chopped shallot, wait for a few seconds then tip in the clams and the wine. Shake them about. Place a lid on the pan, give it a last shake and replace on the heat. After 3 or four minutes the clams will start to open and release their juices so shake the pan to move them around.

When your timer rings, drain your spaghetti,

Remove the lid of the clam pot and check the clams are all open, then add the spaghetti and tomatoes.

Stir and toss for another minute or so to let the delicious juices become absorbed into the pasta.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve scattered with the parsley.