Amateur Gardening has exposed a shocking waste of BBC Licence Fee-payers’ money by revealing exclusive pictures of Greenacre, the abandoned BBC Gardeners’ World Garden.
Corporation chiefs pulled the plug on the two-and-a-half year-old TV garden just before Christmas when they moved Gardeners’ World to Monty Don’s estate in Herefordshire in a bid to revive viewing figures.
Greenacre was created in 2008 on a disused playing field between Birmingham University and Winterbourne Botanic Garden. But it has been left in a sorry state after the coldest winter in 30 years.
Many of the model gardens created by presenters Toby Buckland, Alys Fowler and Joe Swift are looking run-down.
The garden’s vast wooden-framed greenhouse lays empty. The only sign of life in Toby’s veg garden in front of the iconic potting shed (home to the hated what’s-hot-and-what’s-not board) is a hungry magpie.
An exotic garden, planted by Toby, appears to contain just one dead palm tree while nearby trial beds lay empty. Timber and bird nesting boxes have been spotted in wheelbarrows.
Campaign director at The TaxPayers’ Alliance, Emma Boon, said: “This is absolutely shocking. It flies in the face of what Gardeners’ World should be about. To see these plants, trees and shrubs, which will not have come cheap, being left to die is an unacceptable waste of public money.”
Emma added: “The BBC is not immune to the wider crisis in public finances and it should be transparent about how Licence Fee-payers’ money is spent.”
AG’s pictures are likely to make difficult viewing for columnist Toby, who recently wrote of his pride in “nurturing Greenacre from a field into somewhere with soul”. Toby has just released a BBC book called Flowers, which is based on plants grown at Greenacre.
The BBC has repeatedly refused to say how much of Licence Fee-payers’ cash it spent on Greenacre.
Last month the BBC said it planned to “recycle as much of the garden as possible.”
The Beeb previously described Greenacre as “a living set for Gardeners’ World where costs were in line with other programmes of that sort”.
Viewers on web forums have called for the site to be opened to the public, or turned over to allotments for local people.
To see exclusive pictures of abandoned Greenacre, don’t miss AG this week