There's much more to The Garden Show in Spring at Firle Place than plants, although they're definitely a big part of this three-day event. The historic home of the 8th Viscount Gage isn't just a convenient site: it's a key ingredient of the show. You'll find head gardener Philip Fenech talking about his work in the 'secret gardens' of the estate, while the Rev Peter Owen-Jones is busy conducting a children's Easter egg hunt in the churchyard. (Other activities for children include a funfair, puppet and magic shows and storytelling.) There'll be a jazz group mingling with the visitors, an arts and craft market, displays of birds of prey, and (of course) all kinds of garden accessories to browse and buy, from footwear to furniture. It's also an opportunity to look round the stately home itself, which is opening to the public again after three years of renovations.
"It's 20 years since we ran our first garden show," event organiser Jane Sterck tells me. "We started with a show for Stansted Park in Hampshire, at around the time when gardening was becoming fashionable again and estates had begun to open their grounds. We only run four shows a year, and we make sure we involve expert local businesses."
Firle was added to the calendar in 2007, which means it's now the seventh year The Garden Show has visited East Sussex. Since then, the show has gone from strength to strength. New features for 2014 include a colour-coordinated medicinal herb garden that's been created over the past couple of years by Lady Gage and William 'Gardener Willy' Vincent. There’s also the chance to explore the twenty acre woodland pleasure grounds, which dates back to the eighteenth century.
And, as always, there'll be on-site experts to answer any gardening questions. This year's guests are horticulturists Steve and Val Bradley, who both write about gardening and are frequently heard on the BBC. So although there's more to this show than plants, you can safely say it's not forgotten its roots.
Fri 18-Sun 20, 10am-5pm, Firle Place, £7/£5/£3 (children under 4yrs go free), thegardenshowonline.com, 01243 538456
First published in Viva Lewes magazine issue 91 April 2014.