Posted: 26/02/2014 at 12:40
The drop in viewing figures is easy enough to understand. GW now is often boring and irrelevant. For those of us who remember GW with Geoff H at the helm the programme has changed beyond all recognition and no longer delivers useful, practical garden advice for the majority. GH had divided his property into different plots especially in order to do GW his way so there were small gardens and grander ones, cheap and cheerful ones with lots of DIY and more expensive ones for those who could afford to buy rather than make obelisks and arches and pergolas and coldframes and ponds.
Planting plans and démos were also varied and suited to many kinds of garden and he used them in different situtations. He had regular guest slots with experts on house plants, pests and diseases and design and he turned to promoting organic gardening without chemicals and without stripping nature of its resources such as limestone pavements but all in a down to earth, non preaching style.
Like AT, he had the common touch and could talk to anyone at any level and make them think gardening was the best thing ever for people and wildlife.
Monty has some interesting plants but with all his hedges and paths and huge pots and greenhouses his garden does not reflect average UK gardens and gardeners and is all too personal. He has yet to acknowledge the help he receives to maintain and develop his garden and I always feel he is out of touch with ordinary folk who have to fit in gardening bewteen work and family commitments.
The best bits of GW for me now are the visits to see how other people garden and what plants are good in a particular season and situation. Even current filming of basic stuff like sowing seeds or taking cuttings is often badly focussed or from the wrong angle to see what's happening.
I love the Beechgrove garden. It's practical and the presenters each have their own specialities and preferences so there is variety and something for all. Bringing in Chris Beardshaw was an inspired move. It can be a bit old fashioned with its bedding plants but does good tests and comparisons and lots for the fruit and veg grower too as well as a wide variety of ornamentals. Being as cold and wet as it is, Monty's garden is also behind most of the UK.
GH's garden has been taken over by his son and family and is open to visitors and has a nursery - http://www.barnsdalegardens.co.uk/ It's on my list of places to visit. They also have a stand at shows such as Chelsea with some luscious plants.