John Cushnie remembered

by Adam Pasco

John had a unique way of looking at the gardening world around him. Those wry comments, quick wit and observation added massively to the appeal of Gardeners' Question Time.

John CushnieFew gardening experts today can combine wit and wisdom in the way John Cushnie could. How deeply saddened I was to hear of John's untimely death on New Year's Eve. The news was a great shock, as I had only recently met John and the team for a recording of a Christmas Special edition of Gardeners' Question Time (broadcast on Sunday 27 December 2009), at which John had been on top form.

I'd been invited to join John, Bob Flowerdew and Pippa Greenwood at the Garden Museum near Lambeth Palace in London for the recording of their Christmas programme, and John was in fine voice.

And what a voice. Radio was made for him, and listening to John was always a pleasure … full of character, charisma, charm and wit.

John Cushnie had a unique way of looking at the gardening world around him. Those wry comments, quick wit and observation added massively to the appeal of Gardeners' Question Time. There was no messing with John, who said things straight as he saw them.

His plant and horticultural knowledge added underlying depth and credibility to his answers and advice, and were clearly put into practice in his own landscaping business in County Down. This brought John great respect from his colleagues, and a great following from gardeners across the country and beyond.

In addition to writing regularly for Gardeners' World Magazine and many other publications, John regularly hosted our reader holidays abroad. His knowledge of plants in Madeira or the tropics was as impressive as that of our native flora and garden plants.

Apart from an apparent aversion to some vegetables, I always felt John could tackle almost anything horticultural. His voice was friendly, and advice often laced with humour in a way only John could deliver. How we'll miss that voice.

A special tribute edition of Gardeners' Question Time is being broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 15 January 2010, repeated on Sunday 17 January.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to John's wife Wilma and all his family and friends.

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Gardeners' World Web User 05/01/2010 at 13:47

What can I say? Such a radio friend. His realistic approach to gardening was much appreciated by us who struggle to garden almost 1,000ft. up here in Snowdonia.We felt an affinity with his N. Ireland problems and solutions far more than those of what we sometimes refer to as 'soft southern gardeners'No offence meant, of course! We shall certainly miss him and our thoughts are with those close to him.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/01/2010 at 13:15

Such a loss, he was always a breath of fresh air and swept pomposity away. A brilliant emerald man who will be missed greatly by me. Great sympathy go to his family and friends.I intend to plant a tree for him.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/01/2010 at 15:50

I have never done any gardening but listened to this programme only to hear this man's voice and delivery. He will be missed.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/01/2010 at 11:25

His knowledge was immense. He always had a great answer to the most challenging of problems. We will miss his warm and friendly approach and his lovely Irish lilt.

Gardeners' World Web User 31/01/2010 at 01:25

Hello. Super site nice weather today

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