Driftwood Garden on BBC Gardeners’ World

Geoff Stonebanks shares the planning and all the excitement and anticipation of having his fabulous Driftwood Garden featured on BBC2's Gardeners' World

Geoff Stonebanks
Getting ready with the mic to record for the show.
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What started as an initial enquiry from researchers at BBC2’s Gardeners’ World back in October 2015, with a request to complete a questionnaire about the garden, became reality when it all kicked in last month for me at Driftwood.

lights-camera-action

I had been working towards the possibility of filming the garden all year, trying to ensure that it was going to look the best it had ever done and the anticipation throughout 2016 has been, trust me, pretty tense all summer.

I was so excited I couldn’t resist contacting the BBC Gardeners’ World team in Bristol, in the New Year, to enquire if filming was still an option this year. This was followed with exchanging many texts and emails, that finally led to a researcher on the programme contacting me in late July to say that she wanted to come and see the garden herself.

The visit was planned for Friday 5 August and a researcher arrived and viewed the plot. She was blown away by it and left, assuring me that she was in my corner for securing a slot on a forthcoming programme. A week or so went by and I had heard nothing, so I bravely sent a text, to see how the land lay. I then received a phone call to say that the team had agreed to Driftwood’s inclusion and that filming would likely take place on Thursday 18 August.

Trials and tribulations

While this was an amazing achievement, it was scheduled two days before we began a three weekend art festival in the garden, with 16 different artist’s work on show. A nightmare scenario now loomed. All the art would have to be delivered and stored in the garage and then I’d only have one day to set it all out ready for our opening on Saturday 20 August. 

Once I had fully digested this prospect, I received a call to say filming had been delayed to the following Thursday, 25 August. This certainly worked for me, in the context of being able to set up for the art festival, but there was another threat on the horizon. The weather forecast for the weekend of the 20th/21st was appalling – 60 mph winds were expected here on the coast! How would the garden survive after that? I was totally despairing, even more so when reality kicked in on the Saturday and the winds were the worst we had ever experienced at this time of year, in the 12 years we had lived here. I just had to sit and watch the garden being battered to death and there was absolutely nothing I could do.

Damage limitation

By Monday morning, the damage to the blooms had been done and I had to cut many of them off leaving little colour around. So, not only did I have to strip the garden of all the art and store it away, I had to go out and buy some extra plants to just add that bit of colour to the plot. By Tuesday evening, the magic had been done and it was looking very presentable. The programme’s director came to check out the garden herself on Wednesday evening, along with the same researcher, and they both loved what they saw. Thank goodness. So, at 8.30 am on the 25 August, the crew arrived and set up their equipment.

Geoff Stonebanks
Getting ready with the mic to record for the show.

Due to the programme changing to become eight programmes of one hour, some new presenters had been recruited and Jane Moore, Head Gardener at the Bath Priory Hotel, was on hand to present this film. The weather was on our side and the entire day was the most amazing experience and the finished product will, I’m sure, present a wonderful five minute snapshot of me and my garden.

You’ll have to tune in to Gardeners’ World on BBC 2 on 23 September (current scheduled slot) to see for yourself.

Geoff Stonebanks

About Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden - Driftwood - he has raised over £95,000 for various charities in 8 years, £56,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners' World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also the National Garden Scheme's Social Media & Publicity Chair as well as an Assistant County Organiser & Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex.
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