Small Town Gardens

Copyright remains with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

‘Small Town Gardens’ was a garden design series which ran for three series, from 2001-3.  The first series was produced by London and presented by Rachel De Thame, the programme was then handed over to BBC Birmingham.  The second and third series were produced at Pebble Mill.

I really enjoyed being the series producer, they were great series to work on.  The producer/directors included Mark Scott, Kate Dillon & Paul Vanezis. Sarah Wilkin, and Emily Rusted were researchers, Sarah Costigan and Joanne Gray were PAs.

The second series was presented by garden designer Joe Swift, with the final series presented by James Alexander Sinclair.  The premise of the show was to re-design small urban gardens, employing professional garden designers, taking them and the garden owners on inspirational visits, and shopping trips.

The first photo is of Joe Swift with garden designer Annie Guilfoyle, who designed a garden in Brighton for the series.

The second photo shows garden designer Andy Sturgeon with one of the contributors and Joe Swift.  The garden Andy designed was in East Sheen, in West London.  Both photos date from 2002.

The series went out on BBC 2 at 8pm on Friday nights in autumn 2002.

Vanessa Jackson

Gardener of the Year 1999 – Vanessa Jackson

Photos by Vanessa Jackson, no reproduction without permission.

These photos were taken on location shoots for the heats of the ‘Gardener of the Year’ competition in late spring 1999.  They show gardening expert Nigel Colborn interviewing contributors, and visiting their gardens.

The ‘Gardener of the Year’ competition began in 1999.  It comprised of regional heats, which were held at the Botanical Gardens of Wales, and then a Final which was held at the Earth Centre in Doncaster.  The regional heats included question rounds on a specialist subject, a general knowledge gardening round, as well as skills tests, and a visit to the shortlisted candidates’ gardens. The judges included Nigel Colborn, Adam Pasco and Ali Ward.  The series was presented by Alan Titchmarsh.

I was the series producer of the competition in its first year. Subsequently the regional heats were dropped, but the Final, which included designing and building a show garden remained for the next ten years.Roger Casstles was the executive producer.

The competition was transmitted on BBC 2 in the Gardeners’ World Friday night slot in the run up to Christmas.

Vanessa Jackson




Bugbusters pilot – Vanessa Jackson

The photo was taken on a location shoot for a Pebble Mill pilot programme called ‘Bugbusters’ circa 1991.  The photo includes Paul Hutchins (Magpie sparks), and Keith Conlon on sound, in the foreground (left to right) Pauline Pearson (PA), Vanessa Jackson (Researcher), Dr Moray Anderson (Entomologist and presenter).  The photo was probably taken by Robert Davies, who I think was the director on the shoot.

The idea was a spin off from the DIY series ‘On The House’, and was about the pests that live in our homes, and how to get rid of them – we’re talking rats, deadwatch beetle, woodworm, moths, wasps, ants etc.  Dr Moray Anderson was an Entomologist (insect expert) at Birmingham University, and was the presenter of the pilot.  I remember putting out calls for contributors on various local radio stations.  After selecting the contributors and recceing the locations we’d take Moray out with us, dispensing advice on how to get rid of the pests.

Stephanie Silk was the programme’s editor.

Unfortunately the series was never commissioned.


Gardenwise – photo by Vanessa Jackson

Copyright Vanessa Jackson, no reproduction without permission.

‘Gardenwise’ was a BBC 1 Daytime magazine series in production in 1992.  I think there were six episodes.  It was produced at Pebble Mill by Clare Stride.  I was a researcher and  was lucky enough to do some single camera directing on the show, setting up items and directing some of the location stories.

This photo was taken as we were finishing a shoot in Madeira, which was a pretty glamorous location for a Daytime series.  We recorded a couple of items about the gardens of Madeira, one about orchids, and one about the gardens of the Reid’s Hotel, where we stayed.  Reid’s Hotel is famous for its beautiful setting, fantastic restaurants and illustrious guests, like George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill.  We were extremely well looked after, and could choose which of the restaurants we chose to eat in – free of charge!  I remember being happy to go along with camerman, Keith Froggatt’s choice of the a la carte restaurant.  The rooms were sumptuous, and because I was the director, I had a suite (the first and last time whilst on location).  We made good use of the swimming pool as well!

The photo features, from left to right; cameraman, Keith Froggatt; P.A. Sarah Reddi; presenter, Lydia Thomas; sound-man, Paul Taylor.

End of Gardeners’ World Party 1991 – photos by Gail Herbert

Photographs by Gail Herbert no reproduction without permission.

These photos were taken at the end of ‘Gardeners’ World’ party 1991.  This was when ‘Gardeners’ World’ stopped being made in-house at Pebble Mill, and became an independent production, made by Catalyst Television. Ten years later the contract returned to BBC Birmingham.

The first photo includes left to right: Steph Silk (editor), Vanessa Jackson (researcher), Sophie Marsh (production secretary), Patti Evans (PA), Chris Hardman (PA).

The second photo includes Annette Martin (director), Alan Duxbury (cameraman).