Christine Walkden embarks on a journey to explore Britain’s gardens and countryside from a hot-air balloon.
Part 1: Cornwall
Christine Walkden’s airborne adventure takes her to Cornwall. At the tropical paradise that is Trebah Garden she’s transported back to childhood by the giant Brazilian gunnera and meets Marcus, whose own childhood was spent playing in the garden. Her nerves are tested at St Michael’s Mount when she comes face to face with gardening on the edge. And we meet the oldest member of one of Cornwall’s oldest male-voice choirs.
Part 2: Essex
Christine Walkden continues her airborne exploration of Britain’s gardens by dropping in on the county of Essex. At the Beth Chatto Gardens, Christine experiments with triangular planting and shares tea and cake with a gardening legend. At RHS Hyde Hall, she shifts rocks with a former student, and it’s all aboard a vintage Thames sailing barge for a trip on the Blackwater Estuary.
Part 3: Mid Wales
Mid-Wales is today’s destination on Christine Walkden’s balloon tour of some of Britain’s finest gardens. At Powis Castle Garden, she learns how to brace an ancient yew and meets David, generations of whose family worked there. At the Dingle Garden she helps restore an obscured view. And we hear the story of Mona Holloway, a wartime land girl who found love on a neighbouring farm.
Part 4: Yorkshire
At Scampston Hall we discover two superstar garden designers and meet young gardener Nathan, who is just starting out. At York Gate Garden, Christine catches up with an old friend and we discover the Yorkshireman who was the father of aviation.
Part 5: Sussex
She drops in at West Dean Garden to see the fruits of a 20-year labour of love and meets Laura, who found a new lease of life there. At Arundel Castle Gardens, she is astonished by the transformation of a former car park into a spectacular Italian garden. And we discover what the Romans did for British gardens.
Part 6: Oxfordshire
She visits Waterperry, where the gardeners are the custodians of a formidable legacy, and chats with Mary, the first woman to present Gardeners’ World. At Kingston Bagpuize, she meets the third-generation owner of a remarkable garden. Plus the roots of the Henley Regatta.
Part 7: Northumberland
At Cragside she helps with some tree planting and meets fern queen Jennifer. At Lindisfarne she hears how some over-exuberant Edwardian planting is undermining the castle foundations. And we hear the story of Britain’s forgotten genius, engineer William Armstrong.
Part 8: North Wales
Christine Walkden visits Bodnant Garden in Snowdonia to explore a Himalayan valley amid the mountains of north Wales. She meets Phyllis, who is treading in her grandfather’s footsteps. At nearby Bodysgallen Hall, an unexpected view takes her back to childhood holidays. And we hear the story of the building of the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Part 9: Scottish Borders
Christine Walkden’s balloon odyssey takes her to the Borders region of Scotland, where she discovers the role art and literature play in creating memorable gardens. At Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford she tries her hand at fly-fishing and meets Jeannette, whose family history there spans a century. At Little Sparta she explores a garden poem. And we hear how the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh came into being.
Part 10: Gloucestershire
At Hidcote Manor Garden she cuts an underperforming shrub down to size and meets Sue, for whom the garden is an inspiration. At Kiftsgate Court Gardens she tackles an enormous rambling rose. We discover the arts and crafts heritage of the Cotswolds.
Part 11: Cumbria
At Levens Hall, she lends a hand planting some spring bulbs and hears some of lakeland lad Len’s special memories. At Holehird, she meets the dedicated volunteers who have restored this 19th-century garden to its former glory. And we discover the spur to Beatrix Potter’s prolific writing career.
Part 12: Staffordshire
At Biddulph Grange she takes to the water to help remove some unwelcome guests and meets Helen, the ‘heart of the garden’. At Shugborough Hall she rallies the troops for a spot of tree hugging and we discover how the area’s proud industrial heritage shaped the county’s landscape.
Part 13: Norfolk
At East Ruston Gardens she helps cut a hole in a hedge and meets Kathryn, a very determined woman. At the Bressingham Gardens, Christine assists in preparing a tree for felling and we discover the fascinating human history of the Norfolk Broads.
Part 14: Hampshire
At Mottisfont she meets a gardening veteran who’s handing over the reins to his young protegee, and at the Sir Harold Hillier Garden she learns about keeping it in the family. And she climbs into a pair of waders for some very unusual weeding.
Part 15: Aberdeenshire
Her balloon takes her to Crathes Castle, ancient seat of Scottish nobles, where she learns about the challenges of gardening in an unforgiving climate and meets Doug, whose father left his mark on the estate. And she gets to grips with some smelly skunk cabbage at what claims to be Britain’s highest garden, Tillypronie.