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GARDENERS gathered at Arley Hall to pick up some plants and pick the brains of an award-winning garden designer.

Arley’s 20th Garden Festival, held on June 21 and 22, attracted more than 6,000 people with many of them stopping television presenter and top horticulturalist Chris Beardshaw around the showground for advice on their own borders and blooms.

Many visited to see the full splendour of Arley’s gardens, which are open all summer, but receive particular attention during the annual event.

“We were thrilled to have two days of great weather, which lifted everyone’s spirits as well as the colours in the gardens,” said Helen Robinson, who organised the event.

“Chris was popular with the visitors and made time to speak to everyone who asked him a question.”

The schools’ garden challenge proved popular once again.

Among the many amazing creations were those by Northwich schools St Wilfrid’s Catholic Primary School, The Grange and Witton Church Walk.

Chris, a regular face on the BBC, was wowed by the creative minds of the children who talked him through the ideas behind their showpieces.

After presenting second prize to The Grange and first to Sir Thomas Boteler in Warrington, Chris explained that the judging process had left him behind schedule.

“I have enjoyed talking to you all today, so much so that the festival is going to be running late for the rest of the day,” he said.

Traders and craftsmen demonstrated their skills and nurseries sold thousands of pounds worth of plants.

Gold and silver medals were handed out in the floral marquee to a number of colourful and unique displays.

Steve Hamilton, general manager at Arley, said the event’s success was down to it sticking to its values.

“Arley’s Garden Festival is very much that – a celebration of gardens and plants,” he said.

“Other traders take part to add variety and further interest to the show, but it will always remain true to its gardening roots.”