The Orchards Goes Gardening

502strictlyOnce again, Strictly Come Gardening bloomed to life at the Orchards Shopping Centre last weekend. For six hours, shoppers, gardeners and the community came together to celebrate the best of gardening.

The day was opened by Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper, and the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Patrick Burgess MBE. From such auspicious beginnings the day proceeded into the nitty gritty of gardening. A celebrity expert panel chaired by Jean Griffin of BBC Radio Sussex answered the hard questions for those with green thumbs and with out. Jean was joined by Head Gardeners Martin Duncan of Arundel Castle, Tom Brown of Parham House, and Steve Harding of Puckle Hill, as well as Peter Holman, Chair of the London In Bloom and South & South East in Bloom Committees. With the expertise on that panel, there was no gardening question that couldn’t be addressed.

This year’s event included the Strictly Schools Challenge, which helped to inspire children and young people to become the gardeners of the future. The challenge asked younger children to paint pictures of their favorite trees, and older children had the chance to create their own Edible Metre, pint-sized kitchen gardens. Begun this weekend and judged in June, the most imaginative and productive cropping plan in just one square meter will win big.

Exhibitors included great Sussex gardens, plant and Bonsai specialists, nurseries, schools and colleges as well as local horticultural societies. Extra features included ‘How to make your supermarket flowers look great’, a workshop by Ryma Skeen, of De Novo Flowers, a Gardening Treasure Hunt, and a fun quiz, “Know your Plants”.

Prior to the event, Orchards manager Nicola Bird shared her excitement. “Not only will the Mid Sussex Sinfonia be serenading us, but there’s an afternoon of entertainment with little Pom Pom girls, the Harland School Choir, dancers and a singer. All in all, quite an extravaganza of family fun! It’s going to be a great event and we are truly grateful for the support of West Sussex County Council and Southern Water for their support.”

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