Tall Paul

Latest posts by Tall Paul

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The first Gardeners' World

Posted: 25/03/2013 at 10:12

I was away at the weekend so still haven't seen the infamous greenhouse, I'll be catching up later.

I would imagine that GW is pretty cheap telly and as Monty's garden is effectively the studio and the set it seems reasonable that there is some input from the BBC.

If you read GH's biography, written after his death by his brother and Gay Search, it is evident that he took a great personal risk in buying Barnsdale.  He had to get a letter from the show's producer which said that he was effectively permanently employed (when he wasn't) and took on what was then a huge mortgage.  No doubt his BBC fees and resultant earnings from books and other stuff meant he was comfortable later on.  As a very popular and successful person who would begrudge him that.  If people like Monty and buy his books the same applies.

Alan Titch must have a very effective manager as I notice he now has a range of seeds, tools and all sorts of other endorsements.  I would question the ethics of someone who builds up their name and profile and then ruthlessly cashes in on it.  On the other hand, how many of us would turn down the chance in the same circumstances?

GH lived in a different era.  Given his popularity and the numbers who watched GW in the 80's and 90's he would have been a multi-millionairre with the same sort of marketing people AT has. Having read about him and read his books I don't think he would have been that bothered though.


The first Gardeners' World

Posted: 22/03/2013 at 11:28

I'm repeating things I've said on other threads here but there seems to be a consistent theme emerging, so here goes;

When GW moved to Monty's country estate a great deal was made of the value of it being the presenter's "own" garden, as opposed to a created one like Greenacre.  This is entirely bogus in my opinion.

The GW garden should feel as if it belongs to us (as licence payers it arguably does!).  As someone else says, Monty doesn't even like other presenters in his garden, so we are really there under sufferance!

Most (not everyone I admit) seem to admire Geoff Hamilton and Barnsdale, I certainly do.  However, Barnsdale was no more Geoff's personal garden than Greenacre was Toby's.  It was created on agricultural land adjacent to Geoff's house and garden.  It was very much a "set" as any visitor will readily appreciate.  That is however no criticism, Barnsdale is inspirational because it focuses on small and diverse settings, which show what can be achieved in an average person's back garden.

The point is that it isn't about where the garden is, or whther it is the presenter's "personal" garden. What matters is their approach, ability to communicate and inspire and their empathy with people with average sized gardens, limited time and money. Geoff did it, Alan T to a lesser extent and Toby brought it back to earth (pardon the pun) once again  There seems to be a disconnect now between GW and this ethos, increasingly featuring large gardens but failing to translate it to smaller spaces. It's like one of those really posh gardening magazines rather than the weekly ones with the free seeds which most of us buy.

I find Monty very watchable but I don't feel the urge to rush out and start doing the things he does in my little plot.  Every time I watch Geoff I immediately see how I can achieve what he is doing.

GW was a bit embarrasing when it went to 1 hour with Toby as the new presenter.  They tried to make it like Top Gear for gardeners, which was never going to work.  Once they brought it back to a more familiar format I really liked Toby and thought that bringing back Monty was a victory for the sort of people who write to their MP when "Womens' Hour" is moved to a different time slot on Radio 4..

I think Beechgrove going national will give GW a kick in the pants, I hope so. 

There have been other programmes recently.One thing that no-one mentions is Alan Titch's recent ITV "gardening" programmes, which were pretty grim, a sort of Ground Force dumbed down (if that is possible) and the BBC one last year with Joe, Phil Tuffnell and Anneka Rice which was even worse.  OK, so they were entertainment and for worthy causes rather than primarily gardening programmes.  It just goes to show that however good the presenters the format needs to be right too.  


Posted: 20/03/2013 at 21:17

Aldi are doing quite a bit of organic stuff this year, chicken manure and compost at really good prices.  Perhaps we shouldn't be seduced though unless we want the local garden centre to go the way of independent book shops and record shops (and butchers, bakers and candlestick makers).  The supermarkets are very effective at doing the "top twenty" but haven't got the space, expertise or interest for the million and one other things we all need that don't yield much profit. 

Chris Beardshaw to join Beechgrove Garden

Posted: 20/03/2013 at 21:11

I love Beechgrove,I caught on to it when I was on holiday in Scotland and then watched it on the I-Player at home in middle England.  I've just said on another thread that GW has become a bit too "posh" for my liking recently.  Far too many large gardens in the South of England and I just can't translate Monty's ideas into my own humble back garden. Beechgrove is much more homespun and more in the spirit of the great and sadly missed Geoff Hamilton with the glaring exception of being defiantly non-organic. Not quite sure how CB will fit in but it will be interesting to see. 

Gardeners World new season

Posted: 20/03/2013 at 20:55

Dovefromabove is right, it's always dangerous to generalise but Gardening Grandma has got it right;  the majority of us have estate type gardens and maybe an allotment or share in one if we're lucky.  It's always great to see the showcase gardens but we need help to translate it to our humble plots.  it's actually more about tone than content for me.  If you watch Beechgrove and compare with GW you will see what I mean. To put it crudely GW is just a bit "posh" for me these days.

The Beechgove Garden

Posted: 19/03/2013 at 20:29

I wonder if the Beechgrove will get a bigger budget and a makeover now it is going BBC wide?  I hope it doesn't change too much if it does. It is the straightforward advice for people who live in ordinary houses with ordinary gardens that drew me to it on the I-Player.  If I ignore the non-organic aspects it is far more helpful and relevant to me than much of GW, which seems to be aimed predominantly at people in the south of England with rather large gardens. 

Gardeners World new season

Posted: 19/03/2013 at 20:23

Sorry Calendula, Geoff hamilton "patronising and dull"?  I've just watched one of his DVDs and found him practical, engaging, clear and enthusiastic.  The programmes look a bit dated now but he knocks any of the current lot into a cocked hat as far as his ability to communicate and his understanding of what ordinary gardeners are interested in.

Gardeners World new season

Posted: 16/03/2013 at 15:20

Dovefromabove. Glad you are able to take inspiration from Monty and translate it to your garden. I happen to find Geoff Hamilton more to my taste but each to their own.  As David K says, we are unlikely to see his like again.  I believe that Toby Buckland embodies some of Geoff's values and really liked him on GW but the producers clearly prefer the more patrician Monty.

Gardeners World new season

Posted: 16/03/2013 at 13:24

I believe Geoff had a couple of helpers when Barnsdale was the GW garden. If you visit it you will see that it would be quite impossible to maintain single handed, as I'm sure would Alan Titch's or Monty's garden.

That wasn't really my point though.  A great deal was made of the move to Monty's garden as it represented the presenter's own rather than an artificially created garden, which the previous two had been. However, Barnsdale was just as artificial as Toby's creation.  It was a field adjacent to Geoff's house.  His own garden, which surrounds the house, wasn't seen much on GW.  The point is that he perfectly struck the balance between inspiration and practicality and always made me feel that what he was showing was possible for me to achieve.  I often feel with Monty that I am being allowed a peep behind the wall of a rich man's garden.  that's not to say it isn't informative and beautiful to look at but I don't feel like I could have my own "jewel garden" or woodland garden.  I always felt that I could create a version of Geoff's Ornamental Kitchen Garden or Cottage Garden.  Which is what I have tried to do.

Gardeners World new season

Posted: 16/03/2013 at 12:13

I'm coming round to Monty although I still think it was a big mistake dropping Toby and Alys. Joe and Carole are fine. 

 Rachel is just too lightweight for me however, seeing her wafting around millionaire's gardens soon becomes boring. I got into Beechgrove on I-Player after first seeing it on holiday in Scotland.  It is much more homely and down to earth (pardon the pun) than GW.  My only gripe is that they are not organic and liberally chuck around chemicals and peat.  Geoff Hamilton will be spinning in his grave.

Speaking of Geoff there is a myth that Barnsdale (Geoff's garden for the youngsters) was on a smaller scale.  Anyone who has visited it, which I strongly reccomend, will know that it is huge.  What Geoff did so well was to create urban back garden sized projects within it.  He wasn't always budget conscious, there are examples of low and not so low budget gardens at Barnsdale, but he exuded an everyman attitude.  In contrast Monty is definitely a toff albeit one with muck under his nails.  However, it isn't a crime to have a big garden, it's what many of us dream of, along with the time to tend it. It is important though that GW doesn't forget that most viewers will have limited space, time and money.  So a balance of inspiration and practicality needs to be struck

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