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What’s your favourite gardening programme?

Gardeners World, Garden Rescue, The Beechgrove Garden, Gardener’s Question Time?

There are so many opportunities for us to go on enjoying gardening from the comfort of our sofas now the weather’s turned bad. But which is your favourite? We each have our own of course!

Elaine

I’m going to get in early and say right here that I hate missing an episode of THE principal programme about horticulture – Gardener’s World.  I was in my early teens when the first episode aired, and a very long way from knowing my successional planting from my internodal cuttings. Once I got touched by the green gardening wand, I learned so, so much from this programme over many years.  

Geoff Hamilton – iconic presenter of Gardeners’ World

Geoff Hamilton was perhaps my favourite lead presenter of all, but I have warmed to them all eventually. Do I equally like all the other ‘vice-presenters’ (if you know what I mean – Gardeners World has not gone all Game of Thrones on us)? No, I don’t.  Am I interested in every little feature they cover? No. But there’s a lively mix of faces and ideas, so any dull moments don’t last long. I’ll admit that now I know quite a lot about horticulture, there are fewer ‘Oh, so THAT’S how you do it!’ moments than I had 20 years ago (Caroline will possibly never get past that stage, and Laura will tell you that she knew it all 40 years ago, not 20).

Monty the Don at Longmeadow on the programme that helped me become a gardener

I’ve become bored by the avalanche of garden make-over programmes, even the worthy ones – I can’t be alone in wondering what all those water features, plants-by-numbers and plonked-in relaxation areas will look like in five years’ time.  

Sitting down with a glass of something on a Friday night to watch Gardeners’ World gives me a calming sense of looking at real gardens and considering all the pleasures and pitfalls of caring for them.  God bless this Flagship and all who sail in her!


Caroline

Yes indeed very soothing, in fact Monty plodding behind his wheelbarrow accompanied by cooing pigeons and snoozing dogs can often calm me right off to sleep at the end of the week.

I do love Longmeadow and Carol Klein’s limitless sense of wonder (there must be something she feels a bit ‘meh’ about surely?), but for me the Beechgrove Garden filmed here in Bonnie Scotland is THE practical gardener’s best programme. 

Calum and George from The Beechgrove Garden. This is proper gardening in my view!

Kirsty, Carole, George et al rattle through the vicissitudes of getting anything to grow in Scotland at warp speed and with a cheery resilience that recently saw George tackle rust on his leeks, rootfly on his carrots, blight in his potatoes and whitefly on his cabbages ALL IN ONE EPISODE. I think I’d have tendered my allotment resignation tout de suite in George’s shoes.

But this is gardening in the raw. I love the frequent references to producing ‘a good feed’, the priority given to growing ‘tatties’, and that the Beechgrove team make-do-and-mend like most of us. Calum’s admission that ‘this isnae really the time of year to plant fuchsias, but they were in the bargain section,’ could have come from me – that’s just how I have to garden!

How much more enjoyment will I get from these Alpines than the usual winter pots of skimmias and ivy? Great tip from Kirsty of the Beechgrove!

And their tips tend to be more ruggedly northern than romantically Home Counties. Kirsty’s suggestion that you could plant up a winter pot with broken slates and alpines was a winner. I bought 10 alpines for £20 yesterday (whereas a single hellebore was £14!) – job done and I love it!


Laura

Yes I have to admit that nowadays I mainly tune in to Gardeners World to see how much Ned has grown since the last episode and to check that Monty is still giving enough attention to faithful Nelly.

My gardening programme of choice is not on the telly at all, but is the National Treasure, ’Gardeners Question Time’ on Radio 4. I think it must be the unscripted spontaneity of the question-and-answer format that brings out so much more of the character of the expert gardeners on the panel that I enjoy so much. Disagreement, personal opinion and humour abound, along with impressive in-depth knowledge on a range of eclectic gardening topics.

Elaine and Pippa Greenwood
Who wouldn’t enjoy spending time with the lovely Pippa Greenwood? Certainly not Elaine, who seems to be having a giggle with her at the GQT session she attended

I often listen to past episodes on a car journey and you really couldn’t have better company than warm-hearted Pippa Greenwood, puppyish James Wong or the depth of ecological knowledge of Chris Beardshaw. Better still if there are disagreements – I remember one questioner asking for advice on tending her potentilla being told by Chris to rip it out and plant something more interesting, to Pippa’s absolute horror ’but Chris, they LIKE their potentilla!’ .

Bunny Guinness and Bob Flowered
You always know that a few sparks are going to fly if Bunny Guiness is on the same panel as Bob Flowerdew.

It’s so nice to discover that Matthew Wilson, who always appears quite earnest on television actually has a wonderfully wry, self- deprecating sense of humour, and that Matthew Pottage, in the venerable position of Curator of RHS Garden at Wisley can be so wonderfully off-beat and hilariously funny.

Matthew Pottage at Chelsea
Despite the responsible post he holds, Matthew Pottage is a breath of spring air and a joy to listen to on GQT

In essence, and I would probably never admit this to their faces, but it’s the mix of knowledge, banter, bickering and laughter that draws me to GQT as it reminds me so much of being with my sisters.

So what is your favourite gardening programme and why?

You don’t normally associate this time of year with scented flowers which makes Louise Great Plant this Month such a joy….

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By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

10 replies on “What’s your favourite gardening programme?”

I love Beechgrove recorded for a Sunday morning cup of tea and sit down. My old time favourite was Peter Seabrook on Pebble Mill in the mid 70’s.

Margaret that’s serendipity. At the Garden Media Guild Awards yesterday Peter Seabrook was mentioned constantly – being a founding member. It’s Caroline here and I also love Beechgrove. I have more confidence in their advice because of our similar climate and everything is just a little bit humorous!

Definitely Gardeners World, Beechgrove and Gardeners Question Time (where I once asked a question). I’m with you on the garden makeover programmes. Even if I had that amount of money, the joy of gardening would be lost if I didn’t source sow and nurture plants myself.

You’re so right Linda. We were at the Garden Media Guild awards yesterday and someone said exactly the same thing to us. They felt Gardeners World was the best at capturing the beauty, joy and personal relationship with plants that, without doubt, are some of the most cherished aspects of gardening…

Beechgrove all the time, but I am predudiced. George was once a student working for me at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. When the Beechgrove Potting Shed radio programme was on, on a Sunday, I took part a number of times with Carole, Jim McColl or David MacLean and we had fun. One never knew what would be asked next and being on ‘steam radio’, if we did not know, we would say so and not waffle. Presenters can learn from the audience. Personal experience counts and we like to tell it, warts and all as not everything is ‘beautiful’ or ‘marvelous!’

Hi Bill, Elaine here. Thank you for writing in. It was never in doubt that Beechgrove would be your favourite! So wonderful to hear exactly what it was like back in the days of totally unscripted radio programmes on horticulture, from someone who was there. It must have been quite exciting, in a way, though maybe a touch scary too? I bet you had a lot of laughs at times! I think you’re right – presenters can indeed learn from the audience, and makes for a richer listening experience all round.

Hi Sam, Elaine here. Thanks for writing in. Of course, you’re right – Beechgrove is more ‘down to earth’ than other gardening programmes. My only problem with it is really that it seems to miss out on some of the simple joy of being among plants and admiring their beauty. Plenty of ‘food for the brain’ at Beechgrove, but a little lacking in ‘food for the soul’? Basically, we need both kinds of programme, don’t we – long live gardening broadcasts of any kind!

I love all three of the the programmes you favour. GQT became a favourite years back in Belgium when BBC Radio 4 on Longwave was a lifeline – listening at the scheduled time only on the school run in the car 🙂 Now I listen with the freedom of the internet whilst chopping veg in the kitchen.
My daughter in her thirties and new to gardening also loves GW and GQT, which gladdens my heart ?

Hi Julie, thank you for writing in. I too have a child who has become very interested in gardening now he’s got a garden of his own, but in my case, it’s my son. He hates missing an episode of Gardeners World! Merry Christmas to you and your family from all the 3 Growbags, and let’s hope for another great gardening year in 2023.

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