Here’s an interesting if minor controversy going on in the world of U.K. gardening show Gardener’s World. While the previous presenter Monty Don was a resolute advocate of organic practices (assuming a definition of “organic” most of us can go along with), new host Toby Buckland, who has a more traditional background in horticulture than Don, has mentioned using both pesticides and peat as acceptable strategies, commenting that it’s better to be an “inorganic success than an organic failure.”
Buckland has frankly said he wants to help the industry that brought him success, going so far as to state, “There is a theory in gardening that you should only visit small nurseries and grow as much as you can from seed,” as he urges gardeners to buy plants and learn to embrace garden centers.
Well, I’ve got no dog in this fight, as I can’t watch the program, but I can understand both sides of it. I don’t have much success with seeds, usually buy plants, and shop at both family-owned nurseries and—less often—big boxes. (I think there may be a starker divide between local nurseries and the big centers here than there is there.) If I have a really bad problem with a houseplant that I don’t want to throw away, I’ll spray something on it (very rarely).
But if I garden pragmatically, I admire the type of idealistic, romantic view of gardening advocated by Don and others. When I read about gardening or watch something about gardening, I’d prefer to be inspired. The matter-of-fact stuff I can get from other sources, or look up as needed.
Interestingly, GW has gone from 4 million viewers to 2 million in recent years, and it’s noted that in advocating smarter use of chemicals and easier methods than seed-starting, Buckland is trying to cast a wider net.