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What’s on – Festival Highlights

BBC Radio Devon presenter Toby Buckland’s annual Garden Festival returns to Powderham Castle near Exeter for its fifth year this April, bringing with it a host of West Country flower growers, talented designers and makers, local bakers and horticultural experts from the world of TV gardening. Located in and around the stunning deer park location of Powderham Castle, the festival opens at 10am on Friday 27th April by BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Anne Swithinbank along with Lord and Lady Devon, Charlie and AJ Courtenay.


The Speakers’ Marquee on the Rose Lawn is hosted by BBC’s Big Allotment Challenge judge Jim Buttress where Anne Swithinbank is speaking on Friday and on Saturday Radio Two’s allotment doctor Terry Walton will be sharing his vast knowledge of growing fruit and veg. Actor John Challis, better known as Boycie from the BBC sitcom Only Fools & Horses is here both days, signing his latest book Wigmore Abbey, with tales of the trials and tribulations of restoring his home – the setting for BBC sitcom The Green, Green Grass of Home in Shropshire.

Sketch of Serena’s Willow Wonder


Toby is launching a campaign to save The M5 Willow Man, nearly 20 years old and need of constant repair with its creator Serena de la Hay who is unveiling a huge Willow Wonder on the Castle driveway made with help from artist Stefan Jennings and Toby himself. Visitors can meet Serena, embellish it with their own willow-works and find out how to help crowdfund the Willow Man so he ‘sticks’ around for the next 20 years!


The Castle courtyard is carpeted with colour for the two days of the festival, with alpines, bulbs, roses, British cut flower seller The Good Flower Company , clematis, heuchera and more. Visitors who lost tender plants in last week’s snow, should head to Devon growers Urban & Rural who are bringing a collection of hardy exotics that bring Mediterranean magic to any garden. Sean Atkinson of Heucheraholics grow evergreen heuchera, ideal for a cold, shady spot and tough as old boots! John Rideout from Rustic Signs makes his wooden house sign on the spot,

Le Mckie from Urban & Rural

searing an alphabet of branding irons straight onto timber. Devon artist Jo Golesworthy evokes what pollen would look like if it was the size of a pumpkin in her handmade sculptures which are inspired by much-magnified pictures of pollen taken on an electron scanning micrograph. Visitors can see her amazing sculptures displayed in the Speaker’s Marquee and Curious Gardener Marquee.


Getting children away from their many screens and platforms is Toby’s mission, having three kids of his own, and this year the new Kids’ Camp will be all about survival skills, bushcraft, firelighting and wood whittling. Children can take to Powderham’s tree canopy with Teign Trees, learn the art of finding hidden underground water with The Devon Dowsers or have a go at crafting bird feeders with TrailArt in the Curious Gardener Marquee. Plus stilt-walkers The Higher Beings are back and they have a new friend, Dreckly Dragon. He’s big, he’s blue and he doesn’t bite! Our advance family ticket costs £26 for two adults and up to three children.


Laura Mead from Angelchops

Head to our new Sow, Grow Cook Tipi to hear local growers and cooks giving their advice on how to start off crops, set up a veg plot, and ways to use home-grown food in cooking. We have a host of West Country food producers, offering chocolate, pies, salt, olive oils, preserves and chutneys, fabulous cakes, including Laura Mead from Angelchops who is making her stunning iced flower and succulent cakes for our VIP Experience sponsored by Hawksmoor Investment Management, as well as offering her home-made cakes using the finest local ingredients to visitors to the festival.

Toby’s Garden Festival Friday 27th and Saturday 28th April, 10am-5pm. Tickets £10 advance online. Buy tickets 

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