Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Monday, 6 April 2009

The All New Gardeners' World: Roses or Compost?

Friday saw the start of the new Gardeners' World season on TV. New production company, totally new garden, plus relatively new lead presenter heading up the rest of the gang. How was it for me? Well, you'll find my initial reactions as part of the fun panel assembled by The Garden Monkey over at The Guardian's garden blog today. How cool is that? :)

Having had time to think about it over the weekend, I believe the producers have missed a trick and tried to squeeze two programmes into one. If you're going to start with a totally blank canvas by digging up a rugby pitch, why not show us the field of dreams in more detail? On Friday we had just a few glimpses of Toby Buckland's plan, so unless you read last week's Radio Times, you'll have no idea of what's in store. It would have been far better to have shown us the initial planning and development stages, the key parts of the new garden and given us an overview of what's to come in the next few weeks.

With all of that in programme 1, next week could have focused on the new programme elements and given them proper time to breathe - especially Mr and Mrs Ovens in the Me and My Garden strand, who were a delight. There were too many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being fitted together. As for nicking the cool wall from Top Gear, I believe it's only a while before my tongue in cheek suggestion of lawn mower racing will be featured on the programme!

Happy Mouffetard and Emma Cooper have also given their reactions over the weekend. As to whether the programme's smelling of roses or badly made compost, it's too early to tell yet: a little more bedding in is needed first. What do you think?

PS I've already had a google search hit asking what was the tree Joe Swift planted on the programme. It was a Snowy mespilus (Amelanchier lamarckii), one of the best trees for the smaller garden as it has lots of interest over the seasons. It's not native though, if that's what you're looking for.

13 comments:

  1. I'm not a great fan of Toby and it seems too much style over substance for my personal taste.

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  2. Did any one else notice those windows they paid forty pounds for each suddenly changed to new windows when painted?!
    Gotta agree I'm not sure about the cool wall and the whole filming in the shed thing, we all know its a studio set, it's like the Blue peter garden got it's own show!!
    Anyway I guess I might get used it, I'm just used to Gardeners World being a bit more Grown Up just have to wait and see.

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  3. I enjoyed it and was pleased they didnt spend ages about what will be where etc - there is a detailed plan in the GW magazine. I think we need to let it emerge as the weeks go by. I didnt like the Cool Wall but did like the idea of a brief nod to gardening news so i suppose finding a format to make this work is hard.
    I thought as a first programme it went well and no doubt the producers will be keenly monitoring comments and adjusting accordingly.
    As for the Amelanchier - I have one of these bought last year from Woolies for £2.99! It is flowering for the first time and is gorgeous

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  4. Does anyone eslse think Alys has a crush on Joe by the way? She was gazing adoringly up at him throughout the 'news' section. That or the glare of the 'cool wall' had sent her into some kind of trance...

    Overall though, I quite enjoyed it. It's doing a good job at an imnpossible task - bridging the gap between experienced and amateur gardeners whilst still being an entertainment show.

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  5. The jury is still out on this one VP. I think they could have done with setting the scene in more detail and not cramming as much in. I enjoyed the Me and My Garden slot most. I would have been quite happy with an in depth reccie of the beds and borders there. Years ago GW used to devote thirty minutes or so to visiting one garden which was a great way of learning about plants. I have never watched Top Gear so the cool wall idea is new to me :) Off to have a look at the Guardian's garden blog now.

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  6. Overall I enjoyed it. I didn't however like to see Joe using plastic cable ties, which dented his green credentials somewhat.
    I hope that green issues and wildlife will be featured regularly.
    I think that it will settle down in the coming weeks as the garden starts to take shape.
    I've also commented on the Guardian blog where I'm Sofaflyer! xx

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  7. Hi VP. In the spirit of Geoff Hamilton it aint.

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  8. We won't get this show on BBC America, so the only thing I recognize is the Amelanchier! It's a delightful North American tree and you will love it! I tried hard not to let my envy show...I'm not at all sure I succeeded! We have the worst garden shows! gail

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  9. I enjoyed it too patientgardener. But like you ,VP, I would like to have seen more on the transformation of the rugby pitch (especially as with a bit of luck we may be able to buy a similar sized section of the field next door) but I suspect it a) cost a lot, and b) used alot of diggers and such that would have not been very interesting and are not available to many of us.

    I still don't think that Toby is the most dynamic of presenters but I will stick with it. After all it was an unenviable task to follow Monty Don, especially in the circumstances. I'm sure it will as VP says, bed in. We can all be too quick, sometimes, to criticise when we don't know all the background.

    Yes, Alys definitely has a crush on Joe. she had before the Cool Wall although one can see that it could have a disturbing effect ...

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  10. I am still undecided, the truth of the matter is that it the programming schedule for G/W is so random here in wales that I will probably forget to track it down and watch it,
    Although Carol Klein "garden basics" sounded good - I enjoy the way she works.
    K

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  11. You're famous! How cool is that indeed!

    I don't know this show, but we do get the guardian in my office. I'll make a special point of looking for the article.

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  12. I thought it was rather cringe-worthy from time to time: the uncool wall, the shed make over, the being pally and failing miserably (shudder), gardening on a budget and having oodles of strong strapping lads building very expensive brick walls, not to mention a bespoke greenhouse, doing a spot of grave robbery every time our dearly departed Geoff was mentioned (Toby you are NOT Geoff and never going to be either so give it a rest) and as I'm not reading GW magazine (far too expensive to buy here) I'm completely confuddled about the lay out of the new garden. But other than that I enjoyed it immensely. ;-)

    BTW what's happened to Toby, has he suddenly woken up from hibernation? Did someone stick a hot pepper up his whatsits? At times he even managed to look lively. Shocking!

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  13. Hermes - I've looked at the BBC message boards and opinion seems to be divided on our Mr B. Guess that's par for the course.

    Dave - the whole thing reminds me of the ATV garden from the 70s - also sited in Birmingham, in King's Heath park. Baets me why they couldn't have used that location instaed.

    PG - but not everyone reads the magazine. I was thinking of something along the lines of what they do at the start of Grand Designs. Short, sharp and we're know what's where - especially when it's a sea of mud. Same here re the Amelanchier - but from Morrison's. Aren't they lovely?

    Dawn - you're not the first to notice that!

    Anna - 30 minutes on 1 garden - now there's an idea...

    Flighty - thanks for commenting here and over at the Guardian. It's nice to have the support after seeing some of the later comments.

    Simon - well GH was a one-off wasn't he?

    Gail - from what I've read on yours and other USA blogs, I'm amazed that what we have is better than you! Let's be thankful it wasn't worse...

    Maggi - it's always easy to criticise as many have - not only me. And of course what pleases me, doesn't necessarily please everyone else.

    Karen - Carol for me was the shining beacon in the programme. But then there are plenty others who don't rate her at all. I just remember meeting her at GW Live - she has that rare quality of making the person she's talking to feel like they're the most important person in the world. I don't just mean me, I saw it every time she spoke to someone. It's a rare gift, which the other presenters didn't have at all. I did enjoy Toby Buckland's presentation at Malvern Autumn show too, so hopefully he'll bed in alongside the programme.

    Susan - thanks! I enjoyed doing it. Never have I taken so many notes during a programme. And writing it up within 15 minutes of the programme ending, so the copy could get round everyone on time to meet the deadline was challenging too :)

    Yolanda - you've been watching Slumdog Millionaire haven't you? ;)

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