A topic that will not go gently


Judy Lowe, who blogs for the Christian Science Monitor, takes up the issue of gardening shows on HGTV, commenting

maybe the solution isn’t trying to get national TV to cover more gardening, but to encourage regional programs that can produce what the people of its area really want and need.

Lowe also links to many of us who recently ranted on the subject (and we love to see other blogs ranting). But I was interested in her idea of sticking to regional approaches. If only. In Buffalo, we have about five minutes a week on TV given to gardening in local guru Sally Cunningham’s segment on the CBS affiliate here. Big whup, as they say. Programming priorities tend to be even more harshly and narrowly defined according to lowest common denominators at the local level, though I wonder if a longer cable access show might be possible. Do any of you have great regional programs on gardening?

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Huh – I killed my tv a while back as well. Maybe gardeners are less likely to have or watch tv?

    I think national gardening shows could appeal if they focused on design issues, rather than what plants are best for a particular climate. A really snarky “what not to wear” type show for garden design would be fab!!

  2. I guess I must be very lucky. Our local PBS station carries four different gardening shows, two of which are produced here in the state of North Carolina. These are real gardening shows that deal on the how, what where and why, not the HGTV style instant landscaping.

    I especially like our local Almanac Gardener, which accepts questions from viewers and deals with current local problems and issues (an outbreak of disease in the area? Drought conditions this summer? What’s blooming now? You’ll find it here!).

  3. We got no TV either. How would I have time to tend my own garden?

    I did get a chance to see some of the HGTV garden shows last Saturday, because we stayed in a hotel for a friend’s wedding. Having only seen a video of “Landscape Smart” at a producer’s office and declined to appear on the show (I am *not* a good candidate for an insta-anything show), I was not expecting much.

    I must admit to being somewhat impressed by the team of designers brought in for “Landscaper’s Challenge”, and the results on the two shows that I watched. It was clear that some of the features were gimmicky and for the cameras, but overall, I think the homeowners ended up with some pretty nice designs, though neither would translate to the standard 10K lot with the 10-20K budget.

    Having said that, I wish I could someday see “Gardener’s Diary”. Sounds fun.

    Why not have a regionally -based “Gardener’s Diary” show? I’d love to have somebody follow me around with a camera as I wax poetic on my gardens, or even better, get in there and do some real gardening.

    But then there’s no mass market for elbow grease. You’ve either got it or you don’t.

  4. For all the hype about gardening in my neck of the woods (PNW, Portland specifically), local gardening shows have been on the demise in recent years. Why? I can only surmise that it’s the all-mighty dollar – ad dollars to be specific – at work.

    About 2 years ago, Mike Darcy’s popular In the Garden TV show was canceled abruptly and replaced with an infomercial! Protests were loud and numerous but the TV execs didn’t budge.

    It’s also true in print media. Despite its popularity among readers, gardening doesn’t bring in the ad dollars like other features. But that’s another rant altogether.

  5. No television here either.
    Too busy working in the garden or in the mad scientist art studio , aka ‘the garage’
    When looking for gardening entertainment I read Garden Rant and choose my local library.

    I’d probably tune into a web based video feed if it showed cool gardens from across the world.
    I like to see what other gardeners in other countries such as Spain, Greece, Africa, Australia …. ect… are doing.

  6. I live out in deep country and few of us have cable TV. However, there are some and there are a number of local cable stations that accept local programming. These are all volunteer stations, and the programming is definitley homegrown, but I have now done three interview programs on location. They were not How-To, but did include some information. One was with Jerry Sternstein amid his 300 rhododendrons and all the other wonderful plants in his garden, one with Lilian Jackman who runs Wilder Hill Gardens with fabulous soil and a nursery and the third an interview with Amy Klippenstein and Paul Lacinski of Sidehill Farms who grow gorgeous vegetables and make yogurt. If we are going to have local food we need to support our local farmers. These were carried on the Shelburn station, then on the Greenfield, Montague and Northfield stations, all in our section of western Massachusetts. I think there is a real opportunity for people to supply useful information through their cable stations. We have gotten an excellent response. Remember, the law is that if anyone supplies a tape/dvd to a cable station, they must show it. And they must give you access to the equipment to make the show.

  7. In downstate Illinois (Chicagoans considers everything south of their metro area downstate) we have a great show on University of IL PBS station called ILLINOIS GARDENER. It is a call-in show with 4 experts on a panel. The host remains the same, but the experts change. People call in with their problem and it is answered on the show.
    The experts are U of IL professors, Extension specialists, nursery owners, Master Gardeners, park and municipality grounds keepers, etc.
    They start off answering e-mail questions and then take live calls.
    I watch 4 gardening shows: one on HGTV and three on PBS.

  8. I think they should approach garden makeovers the same way as home renovations have been done on the ‘This Old House’ show. Nothing on that show is done in ‘one day’ in fact the home renovations are often part of a series of episodes emphasizing craftsmanship instead of instant gratification.

    I’m seeing too many garden makeover shows where everything is done in a day and it’s not always correctly done and that’s disturbing.

    Plus, they tend to focus in on CA, not that there’s anything wrong with CA it is just that it would be nice to see gardens in other parts of the country profiled as well.

  9. Hi Elizabeth,

    We have a great local PBS gardening show called Central Texas Gardener, hosted by Tom Spencer, the speaker everyone loved at the Spring Fling lunch.

    Linda the producer has a garden blog
    and she posts clips from the show on the KLRU YouTube Station.


    The advice might not work everywhere, but the visits to individual gardens (including that of Pam/Digging) are fun no matter where you live.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. Camera work for garden shows can be very annoying.Even if I could stop the camera a garden on a screen will never have the impact of being there,at least not to me.
    What television does best is people. PBS has a couple of shows with good formats.
    Chicago Tonight,a sort of round table discussion with various civic leaders and media reps taking on topics of the day.
    The other is a Check Please!
    with a similar format of several people sitting around a table discussing that weeks pick of favorite local restaurants. Each person picks one restaurant but all must have visited the restaurant that week and then discuss. Camera crews are taken at some point to give the viewer a look.
    So would this not make for interesting local gardening shows. A sort of visual Garden Rant…Gloria

  11. We used to have a great one here in Iowa on PBS called The Perennial Gardener, with local artist and fantastic gardener Karen Strohbeen. Then it went off the air in preparation, so our PBS affiliate said, for going national. That was 5 years ago and it has since disappeared completely. Now we get P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home: not terribly relevant as he gardens in Georgia, which is several zones warmer than Iowa, last I checked. Still,it’s something. We also get some other stuff on PBS’s low-rent HGTV channel “Create,” but they’re never on at convenient times, so I’m not at all sure what they offer. And we get a little 5 minute spot on the Saturday morning news from our local garden chain, explaining how to drench our lawns with chemicals and mow more effectively.

  12. No good garden tv – and what about garden periodicals? When I started gardening 12 years ago, I subscribed to 6 garden mags, now – zero. I think the future of garden tv is on the web –
    I am thinking about adding a video segment to my blog on dominomag,com, just to get the ball rolling.

    Let’s make our OWN gardening tv! Who needs the whole network/cable mumbo jumbo?

    I’d LOVE to see the Garden Ranters ranting via video!

  13. We have a pretty good local “Wisconsin Gardener” show put on by our local PBS affiliate. We also have some local Madison garden authors and I’ve been writing a biweekly newspaper garden column for a number of years as well. Also used to run Jan Riggenbach’s column out of Iowa as some zone similarities.

    We also have an amazing number of garden clubs by species (daylily etc) and by neighborhood.

    Frankly I go back to the days of Jim Crockett and watched him when I was a kid and young apartment dweller. Once Victory Garden took off Roger Swain I gave up on the show. It lost its personality as well as its real educational component.

    Sometimes I feel the same way about the garden magazines. I love all those garden porn photos but I want good writing, knowledgeable people and some lyricism as well.

    Thanks ranters for letting me rant. Until I wrote this I didn’t realize I was frustrated by all that’s been lost over the years. More folks interested in gardening and less good programing or publications.

  14. ‘Gardening in Georgia’ with Walter Reeves, former county extension agent turned radio host, turned local TV celebrity, on our local PBS affiliate from April through October.

    He also does a call-in radio show, 4 hours worth, every Saturday morning which is more fun than the TV show.

    You can watch some of the new episodes online at http://www.gardeningingeorgia.com/archives.phtml if your so inclined.

    An added bonus is listening to my children whine and watching them roll their eyes whenever they hear his voice.

  15. As a couple of people have mentioned, if you are lacking in garden programming, why not create it yourself. New Media opens the world of radio and TV to anyone with the wherewithal to give it a try.

    I think this would be an excellent use of YouTube, podcasting etc.

    Start podcasting your garden group presentations. Go out and shoot a few minutes in the garden to share with friends. Interview a local expert on audio or video.

    We don’t need to wait for the mainstream broadcasters to fill our needs anymore. We have the power to create the radio and television we have always wanted.

    Who knows? You might even become a star…even if it is only in your town, county or growing zone! (SMILE)


  16. There is an excellent gardening program podcast on Apple’s i-tunes called “Gardening Australia”. Puts our American gardening shows to shame and in the compost. If only we could combine Walter Reeves,cast of Garden Compass,Ciscoe Morris,Tom MacCubbin,Farmer Fred,Ron Wilson,Davis Garden Show and of course the best horticulturist Neil Sperry that would be a show!
    Logan, West Coast Fl.

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  18. For the San Francisco Bay Area, we have “Henry’s Garden” on local independent station KRON – Channel 4. What I love about this show is that Henry Tennebaum, a local news commentator, shows us gardening in his backyard. It’s not always pretty, but he’ll show you his successes and what didn’t work in his yard and his gardening buddy, Buzz Bertalero – a real gardening expert will explain why something failed or died. Buzz and Henry bicker like and old married couple (no, they are not gay), but I like the fact they show what an average garden can do, not a show where they have the attractive young couple gaze adoringly at a landscape designer while he rips up a yard then installs a manicured garden scape for a mere $20K.

  19. Now that cannabis has been reclassified, does it remain legal to own the seeds?
    A company are using our business address as a “return to sender” address, I suppose in an attempt to not get caught. We tried to take them to the Police Station in the Summer but they wouldn’t take them because it was legal to own [b]cannabis (marijuana) seeds[/b].

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