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August 31 2016.

Driftwood owner Geoff Stonebanks writes:

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, the reality of it all kicked in last month for me at Driftwood.

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

Well, I’m sure you can all imagine my equal parts of terror and amazement. The visit was planned for Friday 5th August and a researcher arrived and viewed the plot. She was blown away by it and left, assuring me 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 tempted 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 18th August! Whilst this was an amazing achievement, it was scheduled 2 days before we began a 3 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 1 day to set it all out ready for our opening on Saturday 20th.

Once I had digested this prospect, I received a call to say filming had been delayed to the following Thursday, 25th 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 see the garden being battered to death, there being absolutely nothing I could do!

By Monday morning, the damage to the blooms had been done and I had to cut many 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! Phew!!! Thank goodness.

So, 8.30 am on the 25th August, the crew arrived and set up their equipment. Due to the programme moving to 8 programmes of 1 hour, from 2nd September, some new presenters had been recruited and Jane Moore, Head Gardener at a Bath 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 5 minute snapshot of me and my garden.

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

Pictured: Geoff getting connected