John Stirland (far left), Martin Fish (middle left), Ali Ward (middle right), Jeff Owen (far right, broadcasting from Gardeners' World, 1997

As BBC Radio Nottingham celebrates their 50th birthday, Emma Patching spoke to John Stirland, presenter of one of the station’s most popular shows Sunday Gardening, to reflect on his decades working there.

John presents the specialist gardening show on a Sunday morning from 9am, along with Martin Fish and Paula Routledge. He was first called in to be part of the late MBE Dennis McCarthy’s show to simply answer some questions – from there he was given his own gardening show 42 years ago.

When he started he was the first and only specialist gardener that they had on the station. “I actually remember my very first question that someone asked me. Someone’s six inch chrysanthemums had grown to be three feet tall and she had no idea why. She had to move them from inside her home to outside in her garden.” said John.

John has also spent a lot of time working with BBC’s Gardeners’ World with the late Geoff Hamilton in Barnsdale gardens and Geoff also spent a lot of time in Nottingham speaking on Sunday Gardening, which John described as being an honour.

“He was, and still is, one of the most popular and famous gardeners. He really enjoyed our show and we really enjoyed his. If Sunday Gardening is good enough for the late great Geoff Hamilton then we must be doing something right.”

John has a lot of fond memories of the last 42 years – “too many to list”, he said. Something that sticks in his mind was visiting and broadcasting live from Keurkenhof Gardens in Holland, also known as the Garden of Europe because it is one of the largest flower gardens in the world.

Another highlight was when they took a group of listeners on holiday to Jersey. “300 people wanted to go on this holiday that we organised. I took the first group there on the plane, it was just so much fun.”

Sunday is the most listened to day at BBC Radio Nottingham, while John’s show may be a specialist subject this does not mean that only gardeners tune in to their Sunday morning show. “We all have so much fun together, me and the team, that people listen to us rambling on even if they’ve got no interest in gardening.” said John.