7th June 2013 – Mr Nick Hamilton, son of Geoff, talks about ‘Barnsdale – The Television Years’

We welcomed Nick Hamilton, son of Geoff, to talk to us at the Sinden Theatre, Homewood School. I am sure that everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Nick began with a history of his father’s career, particularly Geoff’s 17 years of presenting BBC’s ‘Gardeners’ World’ from his own garden at Barnsdale, Rutland.  Geoff was editor of  ’Practical Gardening’ magazine’ – the top gardening magazine of the day – when he was invited to make a guest appearance on the programme.  From 1979 until his death in 1996 he was the show’s regular and longest-serving presenter.

For 4 days in every fortnight, two enormous, olive green, BBC Outside Broadcast lorries, with a crew of 25 – 30, would park at the house to film and edit 2 weeks of the programme.  Geoff’s practical hands-on experience, down-to-earth cost-saving approach to gardening and landscaping, his desire to share his failures as well as his successes with his audience, combined with a gentle humour were the key to his success and popularity.  He encouraged and enthused a generation of gardeners.

Nick showed us some examples of the results of Geoff’s ideas to re-use, re-cycle and re-claim – including a painted ball-cock on top of a plant support and an amusing sculpture made out of an old lawn mower!  I think many members of the audience may well be looking into their sheds and garages with fresh eyes.

Geoff was not interested in celebrity – his mission in life was to get people gardening.

He later presented other BBC series ‘The Cottage Garden‘ (which had 9 million viewers), ‘The Paradise Garden’ and ‘The Ornamental Kitchen Garden’

Nick’s talk was a happy walk down memory lane.  Geoff Hamilton certainly encouraged me to garden,  when I got home I pulled his books off the shelf to look at them again, particularly his ‘Gardeners’ World Vegetable Book’, published in 1981, which inspired me to grow my first veg on four foot wide deep beds.

For those who may be interested, there is a DVD of some of his programmes available through Amazon at just over £10 – it will definitely be on my Christmas list.

Nick continues to nurture Barnsdale, which is open to visitors for 363 days of the year, and now has 38 different gardens.  We extend our thanks to him for such an interesting evening, wonderful slides and for bringing along a lovely selection of plants.


Nick Hamilton with a slide of his father Geoff

Nick Hamilton with a slide of his father Geoff

Lovely plants from Barnsdale

Lovely plants from Barnsdale