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!
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 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).
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!’ .
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.
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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