Sally Thomson, Editor, catches up with the Gardener’s World presenter to discuss his recent appearance at the ‘Celebration of Summer Gardening’ festival and his upcoming plans.
The last time we spoke was in June 2011, where does the time go? We discussed your new book Gardeners’ World Flowers you’d also been on Mastermind doing Father Ted in the big black leather chair and now you are busy with your garden festivals?
My word is it really that long ago? I enjoy the pleasure of gardening and not the terror of Mastermind.
Please tell us a little more about the garden festivals. You’ve done Powderham Castle before haven’t you?
Yes, what happened was we started the festival at Powderham as that is where I live and it became a runaway success. People loved it because it took the garden festival concept back to basics and added a twist. Visitors coming through the gate just loved the relaxed atmosphere that we created. The idea was that you could take a picnic rug and enjoy food and some music and really chill out. It is a proper festival. Garden shows are lovely where you go along and you are shown something but I personally, like people, I like plants, I like conversation and I like music and bringing them altogether makes for just such a fantastic party atmosphere.
Since I last spoke to you you had produced that beautiful flower book have you done any more writing?
Well, no not at the moment but I do write regularly for papers. I might do one for herbs as I am a member of the Herb Society now. Herbs are just so good for you.
They are fascinating. The thing that makes them so is the relationship between them and people as plants have a story to tell. And they are accessible to all.
When you are working at Powderham, what are you enjoying growing at the moment?
Well, it is that time of year when I get my vegetable beds going. I love to get the potatoes in the ground. I am growing herbaceous perennials particularly those that attract the bees.
Do have a particular favourite plant?
It changes all the time. I really love grasses.
Yes, you did that on the TV with the Great British Garden Revival. I had never seen grasses in that light before.
They are fabulous. I love working with them.
May I ask you what you would recommend for a scented garden as I love the smell of flowers, especially on a summer’s evening?
At this time of year it is a good time to sow your nicotianas – tobacco plants. There is a lovely one called fragrant cloud – it is not too tall but it is so sweet. I also love jasmine… in fact most of the white flowers are very strongly scented.
For more information on Toby go to www.tobybuckland.com