A Whitley Bay resident will have the opportunity to showcase his skills at BBC Gardeners’ World Live later this month.
The annual event at the NEC Birmingham is also linked with the BBC Good Food Show and attracts about 100,000 people, as well as coverage on BBC2.
Ben Stubbs moved to Wallsend 12 years ago and worked for South Tyneside Council in the town planning department.
He was already feeling like trying something else when the opportunity came up to leave the job in 2015 and as he had a passion for gardening, he signed up for a one-year Northumberland College horticulture course at Kirkley Hall near Ponteland.
He then started his own business – Lush Gardens North East – and fitting in work where he can alongside looking after his two children at home.
The 35-year-old entered a competition in which the winners get to create a show garden at Gardeners’ World Live, which runs from June 14 to 17, and his design was among those selected.
He will bring it to life in a 7mx1.5m space. The garden is described in his entry as a ‘dual purpose space where plants can flourish and the children can have fun in an enchanting playground’.
It needs to be completed on the morning of June 13 as judging will take place in the afternoon that day, with prizes to be awarded.
Ben said: “I read about the competition by chance in Gardeners World magazine and I decided to give it a go.
“As it is an every space counts theme, I included both children’s toys and play equipment and flowers with vibrant, exciting colours to draw the eye in the design.
“It’s incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking all into one. Although it would be nice to win a prize, the opportunity to show my work at Gardeners’ World Live is fantastic.”
The plants for the show garden are being grown at a nursery in the North West to reduce the transportation distance to Birmingham and he is being supported by his mum Karen, herself a keen gardener, who lives close to this nursery.
He and wife Donna, who works for the Alzheimer’s Society in Newcastle, moved to Whitley Bay four years ago.
They have a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Meryl, and a one-and-a-half-year-old son, George. Ben can do gardening work between Monday and Friday when the children are at nursery.
He said: “Although it’s hard work, I absolutely love gardening. It has been a passion of mine since I was about 10 years old and I enjoyed developing my own garden when I was working for the council.
“I’m pleased with how well the business has gone so far and as well as raising my profile through social media, word of mouth has helped me the most.
“It’s even better when you are involved in the design and upkeep of the same garden.”
For more information about the business, go to the Lush Gardens North East Facebook page.