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SCOURING THE INTERNET FOR GREAT GARDEN TELEVISION

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I don’t think it’s any secret that there is a lack of quality gardening television shows available in the U.S. There are some, of course, and two that come to mind are The Victory Garden and P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, both on PBS.

Although I have the DVR programmed to record every one of these I can (which means a lot of old, fuzzy episodes of The Victory Garden recorded from some channel called RLTV that runs a lot of ads for how the elderly can learn to use computers), I cannot manage to quench my thirst for gardening programming.

And let’s be honest, at this point it’s a matter of keeping my sanity. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you saw what I did this weekend.

Two interesting things to note about this photo: 1. I suspect that one should not be considering garden bed shape while the snow shovel is still standing at attention (leaning on the garage); and 2. See that big icy puddle on the path? That’s why leveling a path is so important!

That’s my attempt at redefining that garden bed that crosses the path on top of a foot of snow with a half frozen hose. With another inch of snow added last night, clearly I need to get my gardening frustrations out somewhere.

I watch a lot of television shows on my iPad. That way I can watch while I’m cooking, cleaning, painting, drying my hair or just walking around the house (not recommended; ouch). So I’ve been searching for gardening shows I can stream on my iPad.

I started at Amazon Prime. There aren’t a lot of shows to be had as part of the Prime program, but I did find several old English gardening shows that were somewhat interesting. The best was “Secret Gardens of England” with Alan Titchmarsh. Apparently, in England it’s not uncommon for somewhat regular gardeners to open up their gardens to the public a few times a year for a small fee (which is often donated to a charity). This program highlights a few of the lesser known gardens and is quite interesting because these gardens are for the most part relatively small properties with unique growing conditions rather than huge estates.

Another Amazon Prime show I watched was a full season of “The Great Gardens of England,” which is about the same as “Secret Gardens” but features more popular, grander gardens.

What I found so interesting about both shows, but particularly “Secret Gardens” is that the most interesting gardens are a partnership, usually between a married couple, where each person has a specific role (and that doesn’t mean that the man is relegated to hole digger all the time). I’m beginning to suspect that the checks and balances that come with gardening with another person create a much more beautiful space.

Anyway, you can only watch old English ladies in frumpy dresses stroll around gardens for so long, and I’d about had my fill of that.

Next I went to the PBS app where I found access to some episodes of regional gardening programs. “Volunteer Gardener” from Tennessee was pretty good as was one from North Carolina, but when one of them flipped to their regular segment filmed at Home Depot where a woman in an orange apron explained how to make a container that consisted of a spike, a geranium and ivy, I decided I was done with that too.

While I was searching for programs on my laptop, I landed at Gardeners’ World on BBC. I used the Hola extension that makes your web browser look like it’s coming from a different country (the same one I used to watch Sarah Richardson design shows on HGTV Canada) to be able to watch the three episodes of this show that were available online for viewing. Holy smokes, they blew my socks off.

This is quality programming, people. The cinematography (I think that’s the right word) is unbelievable. It is filmed so beautifully with the shots often starting closely zoomed in on a plant and panning out to catch the frame in the background. The segments are a nice length and very interesting.

What I like most though is the presenters. They have dirty hands from digging in the dirt. One of them, Carol Klein, is this exuberant woman who is constantly chatting and smiling and has had dirt on the knees of her blue jeans in every segment. In other words, they are real gardeners. I love it.

One episode had a segment on Boxwood blight and was filmed in presenter Monty Don‘s garden (as many segments are). His garden is a beautiful formal one, with perfectly trimmed boxwood hedges creating the structure. One area was decimated by Boxwood blight, so the segment highlighted what to do about it to try to keep it from spreading throughout the garden. The quick answer is to cut off the affected plants, dig out the roots, burn it all and cross your fingers. So I was thinking to myself, what is this guy going to do? He just lost an entire hedge from around one area of his garden and now it won’t match the rest. But while he was cutting it down (and mentioning that he had planted the boxwood more than 15 years earlier when his children were young) he said he was excited about the possibilities of what he could do there now that he wasn’t limited by the hedge in that area. You have to admire that attitude.

This is Monty Don’s dog Nigel who is super cute and constantly chasing his ball. Photo from Don’s blog.

Monty Don’s garden Longmeadow.

In search of more episodes of Gardeners’ World, I landed on YouTube where wonderful people have (probably totally illegally) posted excellent episodes of the show and its specials. Gold mine!

One special that I really enjoyed was called “The Science of Gardening” with the aforementioned Carol Klein. It was a really fascinating look into exactly what the title suggests, but in a very approachable and easy-to-understand manner. The section on soil structure was particularly interesting to me.

I also watched a special on the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show. For some reason I always find it to be hard to find information and images from the show, which is surprising since it’s pretty much the biggest thing going in the gardening world. This was a great look at the world-famous event. Interesting tidbit: Gnomes have been prohibited from displays at the Chelsea Flower Show basically forever, but in 2013 they were allowed and later auctioned off for charity.

A clematis display at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Youtube is one of those places where it’s hard to search for shows, but you usually find them by looking at the suggestions after you’ve watched a video. So I’m hoping I’ll continue finding more programs to tide me over until I can get in the garden.

Do you have a secret source for great gardening programming?

I’ve updated the “Favorites” tab at the top of the page with links to seasons and episodes of some great television shows on Youtube to help you find some of them a little easier.

32 Responses

  1. Old series of Gardeners World can be found on dailymotion.com as can Ground Force.
    Available on BBC iplayer (UK), you may also enjoy ‘Beechgrove’ and ‘Garden Rescue’ and Carol Klein’s ‘life in a cottage garden’.
    Assuming your spoof works on it, you may also want to try itv.com where Alan Titchmarsh has a few different shows you might enjoy.

  2. I agree about HGTV; complained many times years ago & instead of adding garden shows they all disappeared. Thankful for YouTube to watch some Monty Don shows and Alan Titmarsh, plus a few old Ground Force. Also Garden Rescue is fun with Charlie Dimmock (originally from Ground Force) and the Rich brothers. Another one I found are short videos by John Lord in Ireland, owns Ratoath Garden nursery and has a show garden beside it. Have learned plenty from these shows and fills me with joy during the winter months. Have discovered so many plants on these shows that the typical garden centre does not carry and now search nurseries in the area for something a bit unusual. From Nova Scotia Canada

  3. Can I buy the dvd’s for Monty Don’s Japanese Gardens and Monty Don’s paradise Gardens which will play in Australia if we don’t have a player that will play other Regions and, if so, from where would they be available? Thank you

  4. I’m sure you have already figured this out but if you have BritBox on Prime you can watch Gardener’s World and Monty Don every Friday night at around 9:00 EST.
    You can go back three seasons of 32 episodes each and yes it is real gardening. I wouldn’t miss an episode. Within these episodes are the past two years at the Chelsea Flower show as well as other amazing shows.
    Sad note, Nigel passed away this past week, a bit devastating to us all so now it will be Nellie with her new side kick, Patti.
    It’s worth getting Prime for Gardener’s World alone. Because we are outside of the UK and BBC holds rights to these shows you have to pick BritBox up on locations such as Prime.
    Hope that helps.

  5. My gardens are all done with exception of the Hidcote rooms with Thuja green emerald hedges slow growing . Makes for slow progress and some upset when all is help up cant proceed. Problem is so far from house to this newer site that holds so much exciting plans in bay. Six rooms half mile of paths lanes and main avenue. Big gates and crests over them. Metal double gates 9 foot high with brick columns at front.Big crested high single gate all metal no brick for lake gardens. It was lovely planing it all out and in two years now must plant up as plants pile up in pots and seeds ready bulbs too. Roses must go in. Trouble is winds in winter as three year old thuja plants refuse to move an inch in that time.Watered by rains and bucket during hot days in summer. Can only think of fertilizer with 50% nitrogen and trace elements of all sorts in Spring and hope for the best. I love gardening show and other peoples take on things .Mine is in the arts and craft style through out all five acres but this last bit is proving really hard to start work on.

  6. There was a Tv series back in the 80’s called The English Garden, narrated by Sir John Gielgud from memory.
    Are they still available on video, or possibly and preferably updated to DVD?

  7. Thanks, Erin, or your list of gardening sites. I can’t wait to try them. I too have spent hours looking for gardening shows and private tours of gardens. You probably have found these, but just in case you or your readers haven’t, here are a few more that I found. One is a gardening show of Central Texas (KLRU) That is one of the episodes.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0S1dxsVQLA
    Another site is GARDEN ANSWER. Both are on Youtube. Here is the address for just one of the episodes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jmHf9BJwFs ( I don’t know why it doesn’t allow me to click on it, but you can type in Youtube+Garden Answer and I think you’ll get to her videos on gardening. Same for KLRU since you can’t just click on the address here.

  8. I am new to all this and have found some real gems and are looking for more – especially what landscape architects miht watch.
    my favorites are
    Around the world in 80 gardens ( monty don)
    French Gardens – 3 part special (monty don)
    Italian Gardens ( 4 part special Monty Don)
    Big Dreams Small Space ( Monty Don)
    Garden Secrets 17/18/19/20th Century ( Alan Titchman)
    Gtound Force (Alan Titchman)
    Love Your Garden (Alan Titchman)

  9. Totally agree with you..HGTV seems more interested in selling properties and 'crashing' houses and yards than actually putting valuable info out there.Miss the old days.I,actually,find more info on PBS.

  10. Oh my goodness…you have me totally hooked on these shows! I never knew they existed, and they are SO great…I love the Cottage Garden series with Carol Klein!! I find the way she goes about her gardening to be so fascinating, especially how she is constantly propagating her plants either by seeds or by just pinching or cutting them off and sticking them in a pot. I am also obsessed with the black handled tubs they use to carry seemingly everything in. I am eagerly awaiting the next episode of Gardeners World to be posted after this coming Friday's airing.
    Thanks so much for sharing!!

  11. I'm sorry to say I never even dreamed there were gardening shows! So happy to hear about your discoveries. What I would like are some recommendations for gardening magazines. I NEED some pretty pictures. We just bought a home with a big square empty yard. A blank slate! And I am excited to begin. Need inspiration.

    1. I envy you a bit, Karen. A blank slate can be totally daunting but so full of possibilities! My favorite gardening magazine, bar none, is Fine Gardening, which has a lovely blend of eye candy and useful information for real gardeners. Garden Design magazine is also relaunching as an ad-free quarterly and it sounds promising so that might be another to check out. I don't get the ad-free thing, to be honest. I like the ads … it's how I've found some of my favorite garden sources.

      Also make sure to check out Houzz.com. There are tons of landscape photos there that should provide a great amount of inspiration. Good luck!

  12. Thanks for this info-I watched a couple of episodes of Life In A Cottage Garden with Carol Klein this morning and really enjoyed it! (on YouTube) It was just what I needed today as we are in the middle of a blizzard here in Nova Scotia!
    Can't wait for Spring!!

      1. I was wondering. If anyone is as old as I am and remembers the wonderful older couple on PBS probably from the 70’s or 80’s. That was before I learned how to record. I’m not Even certain whether they were British or U. S. Wish I could describe them better. I learned so much from them.

        1. Hi Jean, I think you are referring to From a Country Garden with Anstace and Larry Edmonds-White. It was filmed in Kemptville, Ontario, Canada. The Edmonds-Whites were from Britain.

          1. Probably no one will read this late reply but years ago, my husband and I were driving around in Ontario near the Rideau canal and saw a sign for the country garden and it was open to the public! We watched the show on PBS and we’re thrilled to meet that lovely couple who graciously showed us their gardens. Mr. E-W. Was particularly delighted to show us his maze with 6 ft high hedges and told us to let him know when we reached the tree in the center of the maze. He had a good chuckle when we realized the tree was completely surrounded by hedges so we were never going to get to it!

  13. I don't know if this will be of any help but I am visiting here in less than two weeks:
    http://www.ngsgloucestershire.org/garden.php?gardenID=1
    I don't know what will be in bloom but I'm happy to take pictures…maybe you can find some inspiration in them? The family my husband works for owns this place. I know it's not the same as the garden tv you're looking for but it's something! 🙂
    Renae

  14. No secret sources but Monty Don's book The Jewel Garden is one of the most interesting and touching garden books I've ever read. Actually sent to UK for it based on a review. I have heard CArol Klein speak twice. She knows her stuff but can't keep to a time limit to save her life. Won't go to hear her again.

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