BBC GARDENERS' WORLD (Geoff Hamilton) FILMING Kohli Garden


Chris Chadwell with Geoff Hamilton, Director & film crew in front section of his garden - illustrating well that the 'Wold's Smallest Botanical Garden' is housed in the garden of a modest semi-detached town-house not far from Slough, Heathrow & Windsor.  Just goes to show what can be done with limited resources and a shoe-string budget! © Pamela Chadwell


Geoff Hamilton with his Director & film crew in the rear section of my garden, photographed from the upstairs' bathroom © Chris Chadwell



The Late Geoff Hamilton in action - this was one of the last private gardens he was presenter in, passing away due to a heart-attack.  At that time he was the main present, credited in 'Saving' BBC's Gardeners' World after a period of dropping viewer figures. This was before the concept of 'sexy' gardeners - though a few ladies told me he cut quite a dash in his jeans!  Inevitably, we all have our favourite presenters of gardening programme, with others we cannot stand.  Geoff was highly professional and popular but not a specialist gardener - my favourite was Roy Lancaster.

Bottom left image showing Geoff joking about Iris milesii, "doing well in Slough, Chris"; the main reason the BBC came to film the garden was not because of the unusual Himalayan plants growing there but there was a notable garden in Slough!  Those of an older generation have all heard of 'Come Friendly Bombs and drop on Slough'! Strangely enough, not that far away, Sutton Seeds (until the late 1950s I think) had a Seed Trial Ground near Slough Railway Station; those who took the train to Paddington during summer months were treated to displays of flowers.

Geoff taking a rest in my garden chair - he was clearly over-doing things, in constant demand.  Sadly, he died of a heart-attack only weeks later.  That day, he was eager to see a copy of 'Radio Times', which was to feature him on the front cover; he sent off the 'runner' to purchase one from our local shop and sat in the chair with a smile on his face - rather charming to see a boyish pleasure from someone so well-known. © Pamela Chadwell

Geoff discussing matters with the cameraman in the front section of the garden.  During the filming, Geoff came up to me and commented that a particular plants was, "Growing well in Slough, Chris", as implying that if a plant could grow in Slough, it could grow anywhere in the UK!  Strangely enough, this is not the first garden full of unusual plants in Slough - there was a much larger one up to the 1950s, as Sutton Seeds had a 'Trial Ground' close to the station - passengers en route to Paddington would remark about the colourful flowers by the track as they left Slough station in summer months - there is even a 'Himalayan' connection as the Trial Ground Manager, A.P. Balfour Esquire was a shareholder in the seed collections made during the 1954 Stainton, Sykes & Williams Expedition to Nepal. So having flowers originating in the Himalaya growing in Slough gardens is not a new thing.  I doubt if any of the specimens grown 60-70 years ago remain, as the land became the sports field for a local Preparatory School - whilst the nursery (originally for orchids) on the other side of the track has become flats.  © Pamela Chadwell

Chris discussing the next part of the filming with Geoff Hamilton and Wendy, the Director  © Pamela Chadwell

Letter of appreciation from Geoff Hamilton's Director during day filming at the 'Himalayan' Garden

The garden had not been designated the 'Kohli Memorial Himalayan Garden' at that point.  Had the name been assigned it is probable that the BBC would have decided this needed to be changed for the presentation - which I would have not agreed to.  Mind you, it is all-too-easy for the content to be severely cut/curtailed.  I was not in the country when the broadcast happened (filmed June one year, broadcast the following spring) but when I saw it I was dismayed.  The garden of David Howard, co-founder and Editor of the Himalayan Plant Association, had been filmed (as he had a more established (normal) garden near High Wycombe and he gave a demonstration of the kitchen-towel seed-sowing method (which has considerable advantages).  Not only was this cut but although there were several shots of his garden (including the final image of Chris & Geoff on a small bridge over a stream, which is not found in my garden), he was not acknowledged.  I furiously complained to Geoff over the phone but he claimed it was the editor's decision. In light of just how much David had contributed to the Himalayan Plant Association plus the remarkably calm and wise counsel he provided to help me cope with challenges I faced during that period, I would have gladly let it solely his garden, not mine...  I have always been wary of media - at least the program was broadcast, I know of people who excitedly, agreed to be filmed, only for it not to be shown.  Similarly, some get interviewed for newspapers, only to find the material does not appear in print.  The few occasions I agreed to be interviewed by journalists (who were going to be positive about my activities), it was on the understanding that I would check the accuracy of the content; I was not expecting to dictate what was ultimately printed, just the reliability of the content.




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