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Our award-winning Christmas displays at Brimsmore, Castle and Poundbury Gardens are now open for all to see until the end of December 2016.


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Back by popular demand, the south west’s biggest bug event, Bugfest, returns to Brimsmore Gardens this half term. A host of mini beasts, creepy crawlies and snakes, from cockroaches and scorpions to spiders and pythons, will be joined by magnificent birds of prey from Sharandys Birds of Prey. Gardeners of all ages will have an opportunity to hold these unusual and mysterious creatures. What’s more, there will be a Harry Potter fancy dress box to help bring the Halloween festivities alive.

Brimsmore’s Bugfest will take place on Tuesday 25 October from 2pm – 5pm and it’s absolutely free to attend.



October is shaping up to be an exciting month, with all three garden centres revealing their 2017 Christmas displays, Bugfest taking over Brimsmore Gardens during half term and a much anticipated Royal visit to Poundbury at the end of the month. As if this isn’t enough excitement for one month, garden designer, writer and presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World, Joe Swift, will be appearing at Brimsmore Gardens on Saturday 22 October as part of the annual Yeovil Literary Festival.

Joe will be sharing his vast knowledge and experience with a room full of garden-enthusiasts, having recently completed an award-winning pocket park with Dame Zandra Rhodes in Bermondsey. Fresh from his work on a Horatios Garden in aid of The Spinal Unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Joe will be touching upon many of the highlights of his eventful career.

Tickets cost £12 per person, or £10 for YCCA members, Footlights, Waterstone’s card holders, Library card holders and The Gardens Group Gold Club members, and are available from the Octagon Theatre.

Guests are also welcome to arrive from 6pm to enjoy some light refreshments at The Apple Tree Restaurant, before the talk gets underway at 7pm.


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Louise and her team are currently hanging thousands of baubles, labelling boxfuls of ornaments and building partition walls in preparation for our much-anticipated and award-winning Christmas displays. As always, this year’s themes are being kept tightly under wraps, right up until the big reveal at each centre throughout October.

It won’t be long though until gardeners of all ages will be able wander through these magical wonderlands, which promise to feature meandering displays, twinkling lights and festive food and drink, to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.


Christmas display open evenings:

Poundbury Gardens, Dorchester – Tuesday 4 October

Brimsmore Gardens, Yeovil – Tuesday 11 October

Castle Gardens, Sherborne – Wednesday 19 October


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Gardeners’ Question Time at Poundbury Gardens

On Saturday 24 September the shop floor at Poundbury Gardens will become the stage for our very own Gardeners’ Question Time panel, in aid of Dorset and Wiltshire’s Children’s Hospice, Julia’s House. Our expert panel, which includes Lucy Simpson, manager of Poundbury Gardens, and Dr David Aplin from Kingston Maurward College, will be offering tips and advice while answering any gardening queries put to them. There will also be a charity raffle table throughout, with tickets available to purchase from 10am – 4pm.


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While judging gardens for the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Friendly Gardening Awards earlier in the year, we visited Southwell Smiley Faces Pre-School in Portland to judge its Out of School Club’s entry. The work that Jenny Whyton and her team have done is fantastic, creating not only a safe environment for children to learn, grow and garden, but also a haven for wildlife, so much so that it scooped them first place in the Community Garden category.

This wonderful outdoor classroom, which is also home to many bees, bugs, butterflies and birds, is due to be sold to housing developers, which means that all of the wonderful work that Jenny and the children have carried out will be dug up and replaced by houses. Jenny is doing all she can to try and retain this plot, despite the development work planned, but needs as much support as possible to show how valuable this space is, not only for the children’s learning but also to the wildlife thriving in it.

To show your support for this cause, you can complete the survey here and the results will then be presented to the local council.


Iwerne Minster

Iwerne Minster Produce and Horticultural Association’s Summer Show.

Following the momentum gained at our inaugural Flower Show Forum back in March, many gardening clubs and horticultural societies from Dorset, Somerset and beyond are currently reviewing the success of this year’s flower and horticultural show calendar, ready for the second Flower Show Forum at Castle Gardens on Thursday 15 September.

So many positives came out of our first forum, so we are really looking forward to hearing how the advice given by our panel has been implemented by these clubs and societies. It will be a really valuable exercise to review what worked and what didn’t, as we gather to evaluate and reassess the barriers that shows are still coming up against. These discussion points will additionally help to shape the topics for the next forum, which is scheduled for March 2017.

We will also be announcing an exciting new initiative, which we’ve been working on, as we continue in our efforts to help grow membership of gardening clubs and increase entries into shows.

The Flower Show Forum is free to attend and will be held in The Butterfly House at Castle Gardens in Sherborne from 7pm – 8:30pm, with the doors opening at 6:30pm for light refreshments.