Duo selected for BBC national event

Dan McGeoghegan and Ryan Bell of The Plants and Paving Company in Cramlington.
Dan McGeoghegan and Ryan Bell of The Plants and Paving Company in Cramlington.

Two men from Cramlington, who have known each other since they were children, will showcase their skills at BBC Gardeners’ World Live next month.

The employees at Cramlington business The Plants and Paving Company will be taking on a duo from a business in Suffolk at the NEC Birmingham.

Dan McGeoghegan and Ryan Bell, both 25, will be teaming up for the inaugural BBC Gardeners’ World Live Young Landscapers Award, in conjunction with the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL).

They and their opponents will each build a show garden based on a design by award-winning TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin. A wide variety of materials and techniques will be required.

After joining The Plants and Paving Company through different routes, they both completed a two-year APL apprentice scheme that involved being based at a college near Preston five days a week.

They qualified for the BBC event as a result of their great work in the APL WorldSkills UK competition.

After coming through two rounds to make the final at the NEC Birmingham, they and other finalists had to individually build a showcase garden (3m by 3m) from scratch, designed by head judge and technical lead, Jody Lidgard, over four days.

Dan was second and Ryan finished fourth.

Although he was not sure about what career he wanted, Dan gave horticulture a go by signing up to a one-year course after leaving school.

He stuck with it and at the end of the course, the opportunity came up to go for a landscaping job with a business in his home town.

“I learned a great deal from the APL course and WorldSkills UK competition as they covered a bit of everything,” he said.

“I was thrilled to finish second in the national final. The contest and the course have given me the confidence to do things more on my own.

“Having said that, it will be great to team up with Ryan and we’re really looking forward to the event next month.”

With both gardens completed and assessed on Wednesday, June 13, one duo will be crowned on the same day as BBC Gardeners’ World Live Young Landscapers of 2018.

The show then opens to the public on Thursday, June 14, where the finished show gardens will be on view for all to see.

Ryan joined the business three years ago. He previously worked for a building company.

“The APL national final was stressful, but a great experience and I learned a lot from it,” he said.

“Me and Dan have known each other for about 20 years, so I think we’ll make a good team. We’re both very grateful to the business for its support.”

The company started in 1999 and it became The Plants and Paving Company, focusing on private and domestic landscaping, in 2007.

Graeme Cheel, manager of the landscaping side of the business, said: “Ryan and Dan have both done extremely well and we wish them all the best for the BBC competition.

“The APL scheme is fantastic for our apprentices’ professional development as it is specifically designed for private and domestic landscaping.”

For more information about APL schemes, go to www.landscaper.org.uk