HGTV’s Must-Miss Garden Shows


Susiecoelhostyling_2Do you know this woman?  Her name is Susie Coelho and apparently she’s an authority on “styling,” whatever that is, and she’s probably really good at it. Just don’t expect her to know anything about gardening, which you just might if you knew that she hosts HGTV’s backyard make-over show, “Outer Spaces.”  On it, Susie and her design team set tables and arrange lots of throw pillows and really just furnish and decorate a backyard, specifically a Southern California backyard.  That must be an important distinction because these outer spaces are treated exactly like they’re indoors.   

And did I mention it’s a reality show?  Yep, complete with the grand unveiling of the results to the lucky homeowners, who have to keep their eyes shut until Susie, barely able to contain her excitement, gives the signal.  Having fast-forwarded through more
episodes than I care to remember, I can definitively give this show a pass. 

Next up is “Curb Appeal.”  This photo comes from the show’s website and I’m not sure if it illustrates a Curb_2before or an after, which pretty much sums up my objection to the show.  Because while the changes to the houses are definitely for the better, the “after” landscapes are sometimes actually worse.  I’m serious.  For instance, in a recent episode involving a cute older house with established plantings, the eager design team ripped out all the full-grown shrubs along the foundation
and replaced them with – I’m not making this up – snapdragons.  I’m at a loss to understand, much less explain, why the landscapes on this show are so terrible.  Seems to me a lost opportunity.

And while I’m cataloguing my complaints about HGTV, let me add how much I miss Erica Glasener’s erstwhile show “Gardener’s Diary”.  An actual horticulturist, Erica conducted half-hour tours of the most interesting gardens and interviewed their equally interesting gardeners and the show was a delight – both eye candy and inspiration. With no garden tour show in their current line-up, maybe HGTV is looking
for a new tour guide.  Boy, what a dream gig that would be. 


  1. It looks like our lack of cable is no loss in the garden department, which is too bad for today’s gardeners.

    Does anyone out there remember a charming and quirky show out of Canada, with a long-married couple puttering around their country garden? This may have been on in the late eighties/early nineties, so most of you were still in school. The show introduced me to hypertufa, and other useful gardening concepts, but it was the immediate and passionate way they moved through their world that lingers in memory.


  2. And where’s the dirt?!!!!!

    I want to see dirty, sweaty people gardening in their worst clothes (because who gardens in pressed khakis and a cute top?).

    At the end of a show I want the mud-covered to host exclaim, “Oh, my God, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” or “My back’s gonna pay for all this digging tomorrow… What does a gardener have to do to get some ibuprofen around here?”

    Not like you ever see the host doing any real gardening anyway…

    TV shows may try to make gardening look crisp and clean and effortless, but it just… ain’t.

  3. When we were looking for our house, and then for a while after we bought the place, we’d sit and watch HGTV shows thinking we could get ideas on renovating and decorating and all that. It didn’t take long, though, before we woke up and saw the paint splatters. (In fact, it took painting just one room to realize that these shows are shilling for the blue tape industry, which tries to make it “safe” to slap paint on, but mainly just guarantees that paint will seep under the tape and ruin the trim.) “Design on a Dime” makes every room look like a French whorehouse on $25, complete with a headboard made out of an old door, so I’m not surprised that their gardening shows are the same caliber.

    On “Landscape Challenge,” they do a good job, but when they get to the “budget” it’s usually “mumble25 mumblethousand mumbledollars” and they always rip up the yard and put in a fountain.

    Excuse me, a “water feature.”

  4. Don’t forget how offensively cheesey the hosts of these shows are. It’s not enough that they push generic, crappy 80’s sububurban designs on you, touting them as “creative and fun”; they also expect you to take gardening advice from people who moved to LA to act, not garden.
    Meanwhile- I recall a certain “Curb Appeal” in which they ripped out a big, old, established tree because it blocked the view of the home’s entrace from the street. Impressive, indeed.

  5. I totally agree and can also barely stand to watch those staged gardening shows. I miss Erica and her Gardener’s Diary and the real gardeners she met with. It used to be on at 6:00 AM and I would watch it while I ate breakfast.

    I recently bought a DVD called Secrets of the Rose Gardener. I loved it! They simply follwed this actual, experienced Rose Gardener through the seasons and let her do her thing and talk about it. I learned more about roses from that DVD than from all the HGTV programs combined over the last 10 years! I especially liked the bonus feature on the DVD, when the rose gardener, dressed head to toe in protective clothing, including a gas mask, showed how she sprayed her roses. That’s how gardening should be taught!

  6. I also miss a “Gardener’s Diary” for me it was like morning coffee with someone who shares my passion for the garden. HGTV was my last hold in keeping cable. They have just lost my account.
    Maybe this is a good lesson – I have started collecting the gardening books written by gardens of old. They write with that passion and love of gardening that the reat of us share. I hope that Erica will start selling her show via DVD.

  7. A gardener’s diary is back again this spring!! Was on the other morning at 7:00 on HGTV. Think it was a new show but not sure.
    Look foward to this show every spring and hope HGTV is smart enough to keep it going

  8. I’m in the landsape industry and am still wondering where the G in HGTV went. Iv’e seen more than enough room staging.thank you!


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