The parish fete (at St George’s, Badshot Lea), will welcome a special guest on the afternoon of Saturday, June 15, when gardening writer and broadcaster John Negus joins the plant stall to answer any gardening questions that visitors may have.
John has been a gardening journalist for some 60 years. He answers questions for Amateur Gardening magazine, gives talks and lectures, and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio Surrey, again answering listeners’ queries on plants and gardens.
Answering these questions is, he says “a great privilege and an exciting challenge” and enables him to combine his passion for plants with his love of meeting people and making them happy.
“Gardeners are all so different,” he says, which means he has to be ready to answer all sorts of different questions. “The great thing is that no matter what question anyone asks there is always an answer. The fun thing is finding out the answer they approve of!” By this he means that there is always more than one way of dealing with a gardening question and he can tailor his answers to suit an individual situation.
There are always general questions to answer: on pests and diseases; on how to cope with dry summers – “the challenge is when to start and when to stop watering” – what plants do well in what areas; how to grow good vegetables – “improve the soil – more humus please!” – and so on, but he does love a challenge. “Bring mystery plants to the fete!” he commands. “It adds a frisson of excitement!”
John puts his own advice to good use and has not just his own beautiful garden in south Farnham, but also helps his partner Maureen with hers, and has recently taken up caring for the vicarage garden in Wrecclesham. He gains inspiration from other gardens and advises everyone to “go and see a garden that is open to the public and take photos of plants you like if you are looking for ideas. I do that. And I love to see an interesting garden with neat lawns and something arresting.”
So, to gain inspiration and have your own questions answered, go along to the parish fete at St George’s Church, Badshot Lea, on June 15 from noon onwards. As well as advice from John Negus – and lots of plants to buy of course – there will be stalls; games of skill and chance; a bouncy castle; maypole dancing by children from Badshot Lea Infant School; the Sea Cadets with their band; the Aldershot Karate Club demonstrating their moves; volunteers from Badshot Lea Bloomers and Tice’s Meadow Nature Reserve; a barbecue; a bar; cream teas; cakes; an auction; a raffle with a first prize of £100, and much more.