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“No new gardens.” Perhaps you’ve heard me say this a few times before, but it turns out no matter how many times you mutter this, as a gardener it’s nearly impossible to bring this mantra to fruition. Because new gardens, or in my case, renewed gardens (check out this video to see why I’m ripping things up) are inevitable. And they are also very fun.
I have a whole winter ahead to come up with plans, but now, as the demands of the garden are winding down, is when I immerse myself in inspiration. I find it in many sources: Instagram, garden magazines, YouTube and garden television. And when I think of good garden television, I think of all those great shows from the UK. Their love for gardening has spilled over to what I think is a collection of the best garden shows there are.
Lately I’ve been digging into the gardening fare on the streaming channel Inside Outside House & Garden, which has a vast collection of British gardening shows that you can’t reliably find elsewhere. Here’s a few that I’ve been taking notes from.
I love this show as much for the concept as for the presenters. Famed Irish gardeners Helen Dillon and Diarmuid Gavin—a pair of fabulous garden designers who don’t take anything too seriously and with whom I’d love to have a gin and tonic or three—visit Irish home gardens and critique them without the owners around and then choose a favorite at the end of every episode.
I can’t help but “play along” and pick my favorite garden, but mostly I’m envious of the kind of constructive, and often humorous, criticism that Dillion and Gavin dish up. I wouldn’t mind having them give my garden the same treatment, so long as we could all hang out afterward.
THE AUTISTIC GARDENER
I’ve been scoping out British television shows for a long time, so I was surprised I hadn’t come across this interesting take on the usual garden renovation show. Alan Gardener (really!) is an award-winning garden designer (and burgeoning comedian, judging by his wise cracks) who is on the autism spectrum. He leads a team of young gardeners who also happen to be autistic to create gardens for paying clients.
Not only are the finished products beautiful with plenty to apply to your average home garden, but it’s also fascinating to see how some of the qualities of autism—attention to detail, a keen understanding of math—lend themselves well to garden creation.
MONTY DON’S FRENCH GARDENS
Monty Don is no longer a secret stateside. To know Monty, and these days everyone knows Monty, is to love him. So it should be no surprise that a couple Monty Don shows are on this list. We all love Gardeners’ World, and there are plenty of past “Gardeners’ World” episodes on Inside Outside suited for the season.
I think Monty is at his best when he’s out discovering new gardens, and his travels almost always translate to areas in his home garden Longmeadow. Like all of us, Monty is inspired by his travels.
I’ll travel with Monty anywhere he wants to go but I think my favorite of his travel specials is “Monty Don’s French Gardens.” Monty lived in France for a time (in the stunningly charming Aix-en-Provence) and it’s clear that France holds a special place in his heart.
I don’t know about you, but I’m missing travel an awful lot lately. These little journeys with Monty help soothe a restless soul.
LOVE YOUR GARDEN
Before there was Monty, there was Alan Titchmarsh, at least in terms of beloved British gardeners. These days the former host of “Gardeners’ World” is best known (at least in the U.S. … Brits please feel free to correct me) for his garden makeover show “Love Your Garden.”
The formula is tried and true: Deserving folks with an interesting story get a fabulous garden makeover from Titchmarsh and his crew. What is particularly nice about these makeovers is that since they are typically done in smaller spaces, there’s a lot to apply to our own gardens. I swear, Titchmarsh could work a shed into a postage stamp-sized lot and make it look good.
BIG DREAMS, SMALL SPACES
Since most of us probably won’t have a television crew show up to renovate our yard anytime soon, “Big Dreams, Small Spaces” is a nice twist on the concept with a bit of Monty thrown in for good measure.
Monty serves as a garden coach for two sets of homeowners in each episode. He helps the nail down their own design concept, work within often slim budgets, checks in along the way, offering pep talks and even rebukes on occasion, and even rolls up his sleeves to pitch in for a day. And what’s a renovation show without a reveal? Of course Monty shows up for that too.
I have to admit, I enjoy this show for the process but also to see how the homeowners approach the opportunity. Every time someone doesn’t do their homework as assigned by Monty I shudder a bit. I mean can you even imagine having Monty Don show up at your garden and tell you what to do and then not doing it? Egads.
I’m enjoying soaking up every bit of the gardening season but I’m also really loving curling up with a cup of tea and immersing myself in a bit of inspiration.
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What are your go-to shows for garden inspiration?
Another favorite is Garden Rescue. First a design competition and then both teams work together to build the garden the owners budget for. David, Harry, Charlie and Arit are welcome in my garden anytime!
I can watch Gardrn Rescue over and over again!
And before Alan Titchmarsh, there was Geoff Hamilton! Geoff was the presenter of Gardeners World when I was first introduced to the show through having to watch with my parents when I was a kid (this was back when the UK only had four TV channels and the internet was not even invented, so you watched what your parents watched). All three were and are wonderful presenters. What ever happened to Victory Garden, the only show in the US that came close to Gardeners World.
I’ve seen a couple old Geoff Hamilton episodes and I can understand why he was so beloved. Seems like he was ahead of his time in terms of garden theory and practice.
Great post. Will check the streaming service out. Oh my goodness. I’m embarrassed today that I have an Austin Geoff Hamilton rose for ages and it’s one of the few for which I didn’t know the origin of the name. Thanks to Robert I now know. It’s a lovely floriferous medium pink rose.
Watched Thalassa Cruso’s Making Things Grow on PBS as a kid. Then Victory Garden followed by HGTV shows that were not makeover shows (yech) . Now it’s podcasts mostly. A bit of Monty now and then- Gardeners World. Will follow your advice on others
One of my favourites is “around the world in 80 gardens”. It’s another BBC / Monty Don series. Here in the UK it’s on BBC iPlayer but you maybe able to get it in the US. The programme I enjoyed the most was on Mexico and Cuba, it all seems so alluringly different to my own small garden in Aberdeen, Scotland.
I’m not sure I’ve seen that one, and if I have it’s been so long I can’t remember.
I will look for that. Isn’t Beechgrove in Aberdeen?
The show brits remember Alan Titchmarsh for most of all was Ground Force
I think I’ve only seen one grainy episode of that.
Ground Force was a fave in our house. Loved Charlie, Tommy, and Alan.
I’ve found many of these programs, both old and new on YouTube. A search for gardens will give you a near endless supply of possibilities. A recent favorite was Bunny Guinness giving an in-depth tour of the 2021 Chelsea Garden Show.
YES! I thought that Bunny Guinness did such a great job walking us through all these categories of the 2021 Chelsea Garden Show. Was great to watch.
She did great with that series.
Thank you for this Erin. Any new source of garden inspiration is appreciated. Do you have any idea how to find the old garden shows that Holly Shimizu used to host. I have tons on VHS, but no longer have a machine to run them on…I think she was on PBS, can’t remember the name of the show, but it was great
Gosh I’ve never heard of her but it sounds like I should search to see if we can find some of her shows somewhere.
She hosted ‘The Victory Garden’ for a while. Growing up in Boston, The Victory Garden was the first garden show that I remember. Watched it through all its transitions.
Thanks for the opportunity! Garden Rescue is the show I could binge all day long. Also, I know you also enjoy YouTube gardener John Lord. If only he had a show!
“ I’m done in the garden.” I’ve told my husband this many times over the last month. However, when the weather is good, I’m outside doing something in the garden. October was for last minute planting of several plant hauls. November starts the clean up. In December, I will be done in the garden. Then I can catch up on these shows!
Love John Lord. Amazing gardens!
His gardens are great but I want a fraction of his energy. Love how he runs around just digging things out here and there.
I enjoy your writing it is you and scoping out gardening shows (especially small gardens) is my inspiration as well ! Montys’ calm spirit and soft tone has drawn me many times! This winter I’ll be looking deeper for inspiration I’ve more time than money lol so let’s all settle in for rest and inspiration!
What a great post. I’ve been mising out on gardening programming since HGTV turned exclusively to home design and real estate, utterly ignoring the rest of our properties. This inspiration post has done the job, and I’ll be checking garden shows on my streaming platforms!
I love all these gardening shows. I usually watch them in the summer, sitting outside on the deck with my laptop with a glass of wine on a Saturday evening.
I agree with another comment. Check out Bunny Guiness on youtube. She makes the case for cutting out the bottom of bigger pots! I love Gardener’s World, too. Around the World in 80 gardens is an older series of Monty’s but a good one. Its on youtube, also.
Well Erin you’ve included most of mine except Carol Klein’s shows, Mary Berry everything and Bunny Guinness-but she may only be on utube. Love this stuff-can’t wait to see some in person!
CArol Klein is so great and I agree that Bunny Guinnness’s videos have been great. She has a great designer perspective on the Chelsea gardens.
Any show with Carol Klein. Her enthusiasm is wonderful. I especially liked her show that featured her garden for the year, a Year at Glebe Cottage, I think. It’s so soothing. Thank you for telling us about this streaming service. Will have to check it out.
Carol has to be the most enthusiastic gardener on the planet, at least when it comes to propagating!
Carol Klein and John Lord win me over with their extreme enthusiasm.
Definitely Garden Rescue! Love Charlie Dimmock’s gardens and love the dynamic with the Rich Brothers as well. Fun to watch and always with amazing results!
I love Garden Rescue too, but I almost always go for the Rich brothers’ designs over Charlie’s.
HGTV many years ago had Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, Erica Glasener and more. Fantastic tours of gardens that opened my world up to them and others. Holly Shimizu is the former director of the US Botanic Garden and was on the Victory Garden, to answer another commenter’s question. Erica Glasener did a whole show on Ryan Gainey in Georgia but she also profiled regular gardeners. All of these horticulturists have written books and are well respected in their own right. I do miss the HGTV garden shows from long ago.
Erin you have impeccable timing! Gardening this summer in Southern MN, Zone 4b just about broke me. We experienced a devastating drought, and it was heartbreaking knowing I could not save everything.
I always make a plan of action to stay semi-sane during my “winter life” at home. You’ve reminded me how much I adore Monty Don, and I’ll check out the other garden shows as well.
This summer I stumbled upon one of your gardening videos and was instantly charmed by your easy manner, gorgeous gardens and your humor.
Thanks Erin for your list. Here in New Zealand were are heading towards summer, will be good to store some of these up!! I see Carol Klein has been mentioned in the comments but wondered if you had seen a series that has recently appeared on Youtube called ‘Great British Gardens’ where each episode follows one garden through the seasons. Like anything Carol does really worth a watch. Thanks for all your great videos and information.
That’s a great show, but my favourite Carol Klein show is ‘Gardening With Carol Klein”.
It’s set in her own garden, and yes, it features lots of propagation. It’s on YouTube – I’m inspired to do more dividing and take more cuttings next year.
I used to love watching the early shows on HGTV. Erica Glasener on ‘A Gardener’s Diary’ was one of the best there was. I also loved Kathy Renwald and ‘Garden’s Journal’. I think she continued on in Canada but here in US HGTV dropped it. I learned so much from both of those women. Paul James was entertaining but just not the same. After that HGTV all was taken over by reality shows. Ground Force was on BBC America (which we loved) but then the US just did the rip out and remake shows that continue to today.
Thankfully we now have youtube and gardeners like you and others that take similar journeys in our yards and we all learn from each other.
Glad to hear about this streaming site. We are getting our rokus this week and ditching cable so perfect timing.
BBC put out a series in 2013 called the Great British Garden Revival. Monty, Carol and a host of other presenters each spend an hour delving into different kinds of gardens. A great series. My favorite series Monty did was the History Of British Gardens. I believe it’s a 4 part series. Interesting history and very informative on how gardening has evolved through the years. Anything Carol Klein is worth a watch….she gets me motivated!
I’ve learned so much just from reading all the comments here. Now I know to check out: John Lord, Carol Klein, and Bunny Guiness’ videos! Of course I love Bunny Guiness on the GQT so I’m sure her show will be great.
My own advice to share: if you like podcasts and you’re not already listening to it, check out “Gardener’s Question Time” from the BBC! It’s the longest-running garden show and is just so much fun.
These seem to be trending towards British shows, which I absolutely love and am excited to watch all of these! One of my favorites that really got me into gardening was Joe Lamp’l’s Growing a Greener World on PBS here in the states. Between that show and his podcast I have learned so much about gardening and love that he is research and science based.
I’ll definitely check this list and hopefully, I can get more ideas and landscaping inspiration from them.