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World's longest running gardening programme is set to sprout in Wem

There is growing interest in a long running BBC radio horticulture show that will be in north Shropshire later this month.

File picture of gardeners listening to the answers during recording of the BBC Gardeners' Question Time programme in Shrewsbury
File picture of gardeners listening to the answers during recording of the BBC Gardeners' Question Time programme in Shrewsbury

Gardeners' Question Time is sure to attract keen amateur growers with all their burning green fingered questions when it visits Wem - the spiritual home of the sweet pea - on March 14.

Gill Glover, chairman of Wem and District Garden Club, says they have been told that the expert panel members at Wem Town Hall will be Bunny Guinness, Christine Walkden and Matthew Wilson.

Gardeners’ Question Time has been a staple of the BBC Radio 4 schedule for over 70 years, answering the queries of amateur gardeners since 1947. Members of the audience have been invited to submit their questions to the panel in advance.

Bunny Guinness file picture

The very first Gardeners´ Question Time took a panel of expert gardeners along to answer questions from members of the Smallshaw Allotments Association. It was broadcast on April 9, 1947, with the name How Does your Garden Grow? - but that eventually changed to the title we know today.

Names from the past include Professor Alan Gemmell, Fred Loads, Bill Sowerbutts and Alan Gemmell, and the show went national in 1957.

Over the years it has answered well over 30,000 questions. The panel members have been guests of a diversity of gardening clubs and other groups, including Leyhill Open Prison, the Palace of Westminster and a nudist club in Wales.

BBC Gardeners’ Question Time will be held on Tuesday, March 14. Doors at Wem Town Hall will open at 5pm, with the two-hour 15-minute recording to start at 5.45pm. Tickets are priced at £4.50 a head, available from Wem Town Hall's website where there is a downloadable question form to fill in at

Wem and District Garden Club meets at 7.30pm on the third Thursday of the month 7 at the United Services Club, in Leek Street Wem.

Gill Glover said: "We are a very friendly club, we welcome everyone with a love of gardening and share our knowledge and experience with each other and anyone new to gardening.

"We have an annual programme of talks on a variety of subjects, visits to interesting gardens and at each meeting we have a competition to judge 'a flower from my garden'. Membership fee is £10 per annum and £3 for guests."

And on the subject of the humble sweet pea, the Wem Sweet Pea Show is set to be held at the town hall on Saturday, July 15, and Sunday, July 16.

The show celebrates the beautifully delicate sweet pea flowers which are synonymous with Wem, dubbed "the home of the sweet pea", thanks to Henry Eckford who lived in town and cultivated more than 200 varieties in his lifetime.

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