BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair returns to Audley End in September

Company: BBC Gardeners’ World Fairs

The BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair, in association with English Heritage, returns to Audley End House and Gardens in Saffron Walden, Essex from Friday 1 – Sunday 3 September, with garden inspiration, take-home ideas and expert advice for the season, and an extended show site. The stunning English Heritage location with its Capability Brown designed grounds will be packed with autumn gardening highlights for first-time gardeners and green-fingered experts alike.  

Taking centre stage at the Autumn Fair will be Showcase Garden, An Edible Garden Through Time, designed by Plant Expert and Head Gardener at East Donyland Hall, Lucy Chamberlain, with Audley End’s Kitchen Garden experts, Gemma Sturges and Kelly Fowler. The feature charts the ‘grow your own’ movement, starting at a 19th century kitchen garden, moving to a family vegetable garden from 1968 (the year of Gardeners’ World’s first BBC TV broadcast) to a modern-day growing plot that embraces the organic and wildlife-friendly practices used at Audley End today. Lucy will also be hosting the Let’s Grow Stage alongside the garden, with top tips about all things grow-your-own and a line-up of experts including urban smallholder, Sara Ward.

Other Showcase Gardens will be Rest to Follow Your Path, designed by horticultural students at Downing College Cambridge, the St Andrew’s Sensory Adventure, designed by Ele Fox, Jane O’Leary and children at St Andrew’s Primary School in North Wield, Essex, and The Dahlia Garden designed by florist, grower and garden designer, Kim O’Brien (@dahliafarmerama), who will also be hosting daily dahlia bouquet workshops.   

Looking for inspiration for a small garden or challenging space? Head for the Autumn Fair’s Beautiful Borders - a unique collection of compact 9mmini spaces, packed with creative features and planting, with a theme of ‘My Garden Escape’. Included in the collection will be Zoe Defoe’s Border, Tea Break, which celebrates the joy of enjoying a mindful moment with a cuppa in the garden. Cecilia Sandrini’s design, Your Nest Will Give You Wings, has a child with sensory needs in mind, creating a miniature forest to rest and feel safe.  Lynda Lyne’s Escape to the Sea celebrates coastal colours and textures, and Cara Thompson’s Make It Flourish Together design is inspired by a riverbank walk to the Make It Flourish community growing space in Great Dunmow. Gardening students from English Heritage will follow up their Gold Award-winning success in 2022 with a new Beautiful Border design.

Local landscaping companies will be taking on the challenge of the Association of Professional Landscapers’ (APL) Skills Competition, each putting their design and build skills to the test to create a stunning Showcase Garden against the clock. 2022 winners Gadd Brothers will return to try to hold onto their title, going up against Karl Harrison Landscapes and JJH Landscapes & Radial Landscapes.

Bringing some BBC Two Gardeners’ World TV magic to Audley End will be presenters, Frances Tophill (Friday), Arit Anderson (Saturday) and Adam Frost (Sunday). They’ll be sharing autumn gardening tips with BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine editor Kevin Smith and his team, plus David Hurrion, on the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Stage and in the new Subscriber Club Lounge. Additional ‘In Conversation’ talks hosted by TV presenter, Chris Bavin, will take place in the intricately designed and restored parterre gardens.

BBC Two Gardeners’ World presenter, Frances Tophill, said: “Nothing beats the joy of sharing a love of plants, gardening and growing with passionate people, and I’m looking forward to doing exactly that with visitors to the Autumn Fair in September. Audley End is steeped in garden history and it’s going to be a real privilege to be a part of that rich heritage.”

Plant Experts Lucy Chamberlain, Saul Walker and members of the English Heritage Gardens team will be hosting tours of Audley End’s organic Kitchen Garden throughout the show weekend (ticketed), while a Capability Brown performer will be leading drop-in tours of the grounds, sharing his vision for the local landscape as he saw it in the 1760s. If you’re mad about mushrooms, the Sussex-based Caley Brothers will be hosting daily oyster mushroom growing workshops, with a growing kit to take home (ticketed).

Specialist growers, nurseries and gardening retailers from near and far will have a wide range of plants, gardening kit, tools and accessories to browse and buy, with a Plant Creche on site for bag-free shopping. Delicious autumnal eats, treats, drinks and street food can be found at the BBC Good Food Market, with live bandstand entertainment to enjoy.

Tickets for the BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair include full access to Audley End’s grand mansion with its great hall, state rooms, dressing rooms, servants’ wing, stables and chapel, and the organic walled Kitchen Garden, grounds, gardens, parklands and children’s play area. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds.

New for 2023 is the Subscriber Club Lounge for subscribers to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, sponsored by the Woodland Trust. Subscribers can enjoy comfy seating and refreshments, with daily talks by the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine editors, special guests and the Woodland Trust team.

Rachel Poletti-Gadd, Portfolio Director - Gardening Division at Immediate Live, organisers of BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair, said: “We’re delighted to be returning to Audley End for our second Autumn Fair with a bigger show and more features. It’s a glorious time of year to be hands-on in the garden and there will be so much inspiration and advice to take home, from the Showcase Gardens and Beautiful Borders to the expert talks, workshops and garden tours. Whether you’re a keen gardener or grower, or a complete beginner starting out on your gardening journey, you’ll definitely find something to catch your eye and an expert happy to share their knowledge.”   

Louise Ellis, Head Gardener at Audley End, says: “It’s great to be sharing Audley End with keen gardeners again this year at the Autumn Fair. We’re particularly excited about the headline showcase garden which is a real tribute to the organic kitchen garden principles that we practise here. We’re a friendly bunch and happy to answer any questions so we look forward to seeing visitors in their thousands, enjoying a great day out.” 

Advance adult prices for the BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair start from £15.30 (concessions £13.80), or £11.50 for English Heritage adult members (£10.30 concessions). Find out more and book tickets at

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