Gardening Fans Alert! Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival 2/3 May Line Up

HDR tonemappedToby Buckland’s Garden Festival, a two-day celebration set in the glorious grounds of Powderham Castle, nr Exeter in Devon this Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd May.

TV gardener and horticulturist Toby Buckland will head a host of gardening stars, fabulous plants people and more, inspiring gardeners of all ages and abilities with an exciting line-up of speakers, demonstrations and all things gardening for your enjoyment. Come and see the stunning display with over 100 exhibitors showcasing the wonderful nurseries in the region, in addition to children’s gardening activities, food and craft stalls and live music to help create a garden party atmosphere.

Here’s the line up:



11.30. Toby Buckland

Toby Buckland owns a Plant Centre and nursery at Powderham Castle which he runs with his wife Lisa Buckland and will be speaking at the Festival on both days in additin to running the Question & Answer panel. Toby is a qualified horticulturist, TV broadcaster, author and a lifelong gardener who is well-known for his practical, hands-on style. His career has taken him from Devon nurseryman, to professional gardener and on to presenting numerous TV shows. He is an award-winning garden designer, taking RHS Gold and Best in Show at BBC Gardeners’ World Live. Books include Flowers: Planning & Planting for Continuous ColourBBC Practical Gardening Handbook and How to Make Your Garden Grow.

TobyBuckland-Matt-Austin 76

Toby Buckland by Matt Austin

12.30. Jim Buttress

We’re delighted Jim Buttress VMH, AHRHS, FIHort, Former Superintendent of The Royal Parks and well-known RHS Judge at Chelsea Flowershow and Britain in Bloom will be joining us on both days of the Festival to give talks and be a member of the Q and A panel. Jim is a very entertaining and knowledgeable gardener and star of BBC 2’s forthcoming spring series The Big Allotment Challenge presented by Fern Britton. He also appeared on Return to Lullingstone Castle, BBC Chelsea Flowershow coverage and is a gardening expert on BBC Radio Sussex/Surrey Dig It.

Jim Buttress

Jim Buttress

13.30. Kevin Croucher

Kevin Croucher has been running the hugely popular and successful Thornhayes Nursery with his wife Pat in Devon since 1991 .The nursery specialises in trees of all descriptions, from hedges to ornamental trees to fruit and specialist varieties and boasts one of the widest selection in the UK. Kevin is an well-known international expert on trees. All the compost used at Thornhayes Nursery is totally peat-free and Kevin will be picking up this theme with his talk on climate, microclimate, soils and site conditions that make West Country gardening challenging.

Thornhayes - KevinIMG_0186

Kevin Croucher

14.00. Q and A Jim Buttress, Toby Buckland, Neil Lucas, Charles Dowding, Kevin Croucher

15.00. Neil Lucas

Neil Lucas is the UK’s leading ornamental grass specialist, an RHS Council Member and judge, best-selling author and holder of ten consecutive Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medals. His internationally renowned naturalistic gardening style can be seen at Knoll Gardens, his four-acre showcase and nursery in east Dorset. This is also the base for the Knoll Gardens Foundation, a charity dedicated to promoting the benefits of sustainable gardening without sacrificing the ‘wow factor’. A real hands-on enthusiast, Neil will be sharing his passion for grasses at the Festival as well as providing some expert advice on planning and planting for stunning year-round effect.  Well-established on the media circuit Neil made his most memorable television appearance during BBC’s Chelsea coverage when he was seen reducing the roots of a miscanthus with a large saw!

16.00. Dr.Todd Gray

Dr Todd Gray has devoted his working career to the study of Devon’s history. He is the author of more than 40 books on the history of Devon including the Garden History of DevonVictorian Wild Flowers of Devon and Devon Country Houses & Gardens Engraved. His passion for his adopted county is self-evident through his publications and in his lectures. He has written more widely on Devon than any other Devon historian and is at the heart of its historical community. Dr Gray will also be signing copies of his new book The Art of the Devon Garden published by The Mint Press at the Powderham Festival

Kitchen Cuttings Talks in Victorian Kitchen in the castle programmed by Creative Director, Gabrielle Jackson

FRIDAY 2nd May

11.00  Waste Not Weeds, Sally Harvey, an expert forager, shows us how to love weeds – and eat them too!  Sally is a trained home economist who worked for IPC magazines on recipe development, food photography and styling before moving to Cornwall and becoming administrator at Rick Stein’s  Seafood School.  She has always used wild foods in her cooking and set up Cornish Country Cordials using apples from Tamar Valley and other locally sourced fruits, winning several Taste of the West awards.

11.45  Ian Mundy, First Great Western and Friends of Dawlish Station – Val Mawhood. Hear the story of a dramatically destroyed railway line and restoration of the station –  not least with flowers. Val tells us something of the floral history of Dawlish and its station.

12.30  Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb.  Only thing that flourishes in your garden? Learn to love it. Lori Reich, Shute Fruit farmer and gold medal winning jam and chutney maker tells us how.

13.45  Sweet Smell of Success. Carolyn Bourne of Whetman Pinks has won  The Queens Award for Enterprise for International Trade.  She and her team grow sweet smelling pinks, sold worldwide and their home-bred “Memories”, a particularly perfumed white flower, has raised £25,000 for Alzheimers Society.Whetman Pinks carolyn in greenhouse

14.30  Answer lies in the soil. The art of good composting. Nicky Scott, compost maestro, reveals his favourite recipe

15.15  So you want to be buried in your garden?  Every passionate gardeners’ dream? Yuli Somme, natural burial expert, felt maker and artist sensitively describes how to make this possible.

16.00  Need a gardening health check? Tracy Wilson, Radio Cornwall’s gardening correspondent will be giving a presentation on plant health and disease in the garden – and most importantly, how to prevent it. Questions welcome.

SATURDAY 3 May – Speakers Marquee

10.30. Jim Buttress

Jim is a very entertaining and knowledgeable gardener and star of BBC 2’s forthcoming spring series The Big Allotment Challenge presented by Fern Britton. See above

11.30. Anne Swithinbank

Anne is one of Britain’s most popular gardeners, a trained horticulturist, freelance gardening broadcaster and writer. Anne will be at the Festival on Saturday 3rd talking about her favourite plants, both ornamental and edible, indoors and outdoors as well as answering gardening queries as a member of the Q&A panel.

Toby and Anne Swithinbank

Toby and Anne Swithinbank

12.30. Toby Buckland

13.30. Jason Ingram –

Jason is a Bristol based award winning garden photographer who has travelled widely photographing gardens, plants, food and people for magazines, books and advertising. He takes pictures for BBC Gardeners’ World, Gardens Illustrated, Country Living, The Observer, the Telegraph and many more, in addition to providing the images for both of Toby’s BBC books. Jason will be talking about his work and his new book Kitchen Garden Experts published by Frances Lincoln in May and written by Cinead McTernan.

14.00. Q and A Toby Buckland, Jim Buttress and Anne Swithinbank

15.00. Anne Swithinbank

Kitchen Cuttings Talks in Victorian Kitchen in the castle programmed by Creative Director, Gabrielle Jackson


Ray & Sasha Hubbard

Raymond and Sacha Hubbard

11.00 Ray Hubbard, Hill House Nursery – a life in gardening.

His Bluebird Nemesia has sold over 12 million plants world wide and he has many  horticultural tales to tell – not least his rise from growing cucumbers and tomatoes in Essex to owning beautiful Hill House Nursery, near Totnes and breeding highly successful new varieties of favourite plants.

11.45  Devon Violets where are they now? In Bridport in Dorset where Groves Nurseries hold the world famous National Collection of viola odorata plus 70 other violet varieties. What happened to Devon Violets?  Clive Grove relates the history of Devon’s much loved spring flowers.

12.30 Incredible Edible Garden. Fancy lunch of Mexican Mouse Melon and Wolfberries or a supper of Scorzonera sprinkled with Good King Harry and Skirret Seed? These “Incredible Edibles” are available from Pennard Plants, a Somerset nursery housing one of the most remarkable collections of beautiful and productive plants. Chris reveals why.

13.15 Neals Yard Remedies believe health and beauty should be more natural, less synthetic, that’s it down to all of us to protect our precious planet. Toby Curtis from Exeter store explains how plants, herbs and flowers are used to great effect in their organic beauty and well being products. Neals Yard Remedies believe health and beauty should be more natural, less synthetic, that’s it down to all of us to protect our precious planet. Toby Curtis from Exeter store explains how plants, herbs and flowers are used to great effect in their organic beauty and well being products.

14.00 Jan Billington, Maddocks Farm Organics, produces beautiful and tasty edible flowers and award winning organic salads and salad bags. But she also creates stunning dishes using her delectable flowers.  Carefully crystallised, casually thrown in a colourful salad, adorning glorious cakes, you will look at your flower bed with new eyes!Maddocks Farm Edible FlowersPIMMS


14.45 Bugs and Beasties in the Garden – how to beat them and save your sanity. Tim Penrose of Bowdens Hostas, winners of 30 RHS Gold Medals, tells us how to stop slugs and snails eating your garden – offering practical advice with a good dash of quirky humour. He should know as he holds the National Collection of hostas and we all know a snail’s favourite supper.


Tim Penrose

15.30 Blueberry Brothers. Challenges and Triumphs – a tale of successful diversification.  Nick and Toby grow 700 blueberry bushes on the edge of Dartmoor selling within the county.  But blueberry season is short so how to survive? Bringing in other sources of fruit they work with local producers to develop and make delicious blueberry foods and drinks such as chocolates, muffins, tarts, brownies and beer. Tastings!

Blueberry Brothers

Gardening fun for everyone.

Friday 2nd May 10am – 5pm: Saturday 3rd May 10am – 6pm. Ticket costs: Adults £5, children under 16 free. Entry includes admission to Powderham Castle. Free parking. Discounts available. Group discounts are available for groups of 12 and over. Please contact with your requirements

Getting to the festival by train:

The Citizens’ Rail project has created a series of free printable train timetables for the festival weekend, showing times from locations including Exeter, Torquay and Paignton to Starcross station, close to Powderham Castle.

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