BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners' Question Time Summer Garden Party arrives in Scotland for the first time

The cream of Britain’s horticultural broadcasters are Scotland-bound as BBC Radio 4’s annual Gardeners' Question Time (GQT) Summer Garden Party prepares to be hosted at  the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) on Saturday, July 9.

Scotland’s own king of the crop Jim McColl will temporarily step out of the Beechgrove Garden to join GQT’s regular pack of gurus including Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness, Matthew Wilson, Pippa Greenwood, Anne Swithinbank, Matthew Biggs and Chairmen Eric Robson and Peter Gibbs for a day full of fun and events.

Not only will the day-long festival offer visitors the opportunity to meet the GQT team face-to-face, there will be in a veritable feast of events. Welcoming the prospect of the party, Director of Horticulture Kevin Reid explained why it was a noteworthy occasion: “The event will be a unique blend of top gardening advice from Jim McColl and the regular panellists plus insightful activities led by our own experts from the Horticulture and Science Divisions. From growing organic vegetables to harvesting tea and coffee and explaining why we are researching chocolate, the aim is to present a fun and comprehensive taster of the work we undertake around the world. Even the world of pandas will be explored and an opportunity to address Monty Don’s apparent dislike of begonias: in a very light-hearted way. We promise everyone an event not to be missed and this is being reflected by the speed of the ticket sales. Garden enthusiasts are encouraged to be quick to avoid disappointment.”

Founded in 1670, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is Britain’s second oldest after Oxford and began life on a modest patch of ground no bigger than a tennis court. Today, it is an internationally-renowned centre of excellence in plant science, horticulture and education, delivering research and conservation projects from Indonesia, China and Nepal to Afghanistan, The Yemen, Chile and Peru.

GQT Chairman Eric Robson commented: “We are delighted to be bringing our Summer Garden Party to Scotland for the first time, and especially to RBGE – an institution that plays such a vital role in plant conservation and horticultural research. In recent years the event has attracted listeners in their many thousands and we hope that this year will be even bigger, bringing our guests, and Radio 4 listeners, the best gardening advice and a fun day out for the whole family.”

Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper of RBGE, concluded: “Our four world-leading Gardens and their plant collections are looking absolutely fantastic and it is wonderful to be hosting this year’s GQT Summer Garden Party at our flag ship Inverleith site. We look forward to engaging with the country’s gardening community in what I am sure will be an enjoyable and inspirational day. And, as well as speaking to people who already have an interest, I hope it will also encourage many more to be enthusiastic about the amazing and beautiful world of plants and to help protect the natural world.”

Tickets for the Summer Garden Party are available to purchase on the RBGE website: Tickets cost £10.50 and £5 for children over five years old, including the booking fee, and will give visitors access to all the events happening at the garden party. Entry to the main marquee recordings of GQT is limited and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis to ticketholders on the day.

There will be two recordings of GQT at the garden party, and BBC Radio 4 listeners will be able to hear all the highlights on Friday, July 15 at 15:00 - repeated on Sunday 17 at 14:00 - and Friday July 22 at 15:00, repeated on Sunday 24h at 14:00.

The GQT Summer Garden Party was hosted at Ness Botanic Gardens on the Wirral in 2012 and 2013 and at The National Botanic Gardens of Wales in 2014 and 2015.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)