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And here’s one I made earlier: new Blue Peter garden opens in Salford

by Rose Crompton

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The Princess Royal, as patron of the Woodland Trust's Jubilee Woods project, planted a tree and opened the Blue Peter garden. © PA

The new Blue Peter garden at the BBC’s base in Salford has been officially opened by Princess Anne, but only after a challenge in the best traditions of the long-running children’s programme.

Although the new garden has a modern look, many iconic features from the original garden at BBC Television Centre in London including the one-ton bronze statue of Petra, the show’s first pet, and the Italian sunken garden, designed and built by Percy Thrower, have been painstakingly moved 200 miles to MediaCityUK to form part of the new plot, which has been designed by the Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins.

Transporting these features was a labour of love, according to Collins. “Although it nearly killed me moving the sunken garden, as we had to do it brick by brick, slab by slab and then rebuild it when we got up here, I was adamant that it had to come. Our worry was that after we left, the garden wouldn’t be maintained, as for the last eight years I was the one that really had to keep my eye on it,” he explained. “With three of us working on moving it, we managed to get it all done in 12 days and to give you some idea of how hard we worked, it originally took Percy Thrower three months to complete the garden with the help of eight men!”

The new garden will give many people their first opportunity to see many of these features, as the original garden in London could only be accessed as part of special tours of BBC Television Centre.

Other items of importance such as a time capsule hidden in the original garden in 2000 have also been moved. Plans for these items are currently “top secret”, according to Collins, as are details of what’s lined up for the garden in the first few shows. “I can say though that we’re going to keep fast-paced features such as Garden Busters, to get the kids excited about gardening, and we’re hopefully going to join forces with the Royal Horticultural Society for the Young Gardener of the Year awards – so there’s a lot in the pipeline.”

Collins has selected robust plants for the garden such as cotoneasters, nandinas and phormiums, but said as the garden develops he may add bulbs and “play with it a bit”.

Collins brushed off concerns that putting the TV garden in a public place could lead to a repeat of an incident in the 1980s when vandals attacked the garden. “Everyone keeps asking me if I’m worried about the garden being open to the public but I can’t see it being a problem at all. MediaCityUK has got security guards and masses of CCTV plus it’s a busy area so it should be fine.”

Have you seen the new Blue Peter garden or did you visit the old one? Tweet us @TheCityPlanter with your thoughts.

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