Toby’s Buckland – Garden Festivals

Sally Thomson caught up with gardening guru Toby Buckland to find out more about his upcoming show

We last spoke in March 2015 when we discusssed your garden festival at Powderham Castle… its an event that is obviously going from strength to strength – how was the last one? It’s really a celebratory event and we try and do new things. We have lots of nurseries exhibiting various plants and we have people who use plants in different ways, such as painting natural landscapes. And this year we had a gin maker. I helped choose the ingredients for it. It is a very botanical gin. With orris root, caraway and juniper and it’s great to make a drink that is so infused with plants and herbs. Its really delicious. It’s called Toby’s Festival gin. We are going to make it again for the Forde Abbey Festival.

Are you going to use the same formula? Yes, we have kept the recipe. You know that taste of quinine you get with gin – well this one was not overly strong. It’s much more botanical, much more gardenesque.

I bet it is just as strong though! Oh yes, and the way it cheers you up!

Tell us about the festival at Forde Abbey. I am very excited about it. It’s a garden and harvest festival. Really we are trying to top off the end of the year with something very celebratory and fun.

Who is going to be joining you? Charlie Dimmock and Christine Walkden. Charlie will be covering water features which should be interesting as Forde Abbey is home to the highest powered fountain in the country. It is amazing it is looks like something out of Versailles. Christine will be talking about plants at the Festival. This year it will be about vegetables. I haven’t pinned her down exactly on that. She brings her wit and I suppose her colourful use of language. She’s just so enthusiastic!

How many exhibitors are you having there? About 150. There is something about the beginning of autumn that makes you think about fruit. We are doing apple identities and cider pressing. And at that time of year it is a big shopping time – a time to buy artisan gifts with Christmas looming. We have lots of craft people who are from the west country.

The magazines are coming out in July so can you give us any top tips for our gardens for the summer? Well July is one of those months when it pays to keep your secateurs handy. It’s partly because it is a change in the season. It’s almost imperceptible to us but plants change and all those little flowers up to the longest day in June will change their emphasis and run to seed. And if you don’t cut things back that need to be trimmed, wisterias for examples, some roses, trained apple trees – your garden and become green and gloomy. If you prune a wisteria in July and take down that growth it doesn’t regrow all that bushy growth and next year you will have more flowers. If you don’t prune it the flowers will be in all that whippy growth.

Toby’s Garden Festivals will be at Forde Abbey 16th & 17th September 2017.

To find out more about Toby’s Garden Festivals, click here.