On-Line Gardening Videos –
They’re free but are they worth anything?


CameraI’ve surveyed general-interest video websites and here’s what’s available for gardeners and gardener
wannabees in need of a little instruction.  Videos on gardening sites will be covered in a separate post.

Readers may remember that I’ve ranted about this site, specifically about their landscaping writer’s lack of qualifications and telltale bad recommendations.  But at least I know he’s unqualified because his bio is presented.  Not so for their video "experts."  And googling their names produced a big zip. 

But straining to be fair, I give their production values a pretty high mark.  I’ll even grant that the topics are generally good ones – dividing perennials, edging a garden, planting an herb garden, building a stone patio and more – and the content offered up by their mystery experts seems pretty good.  The advice is more traditional than earthwise or organic, however. 

And a small gripe.  Because home and garden videos are listed together, with less than a third of them on topic (for us), browsing the titles isn’t much fun.

Now the folks at ExpertVillage have the good sense to show bios for their experts but alas, the sum total of their "qualifications" often rests in the disappointing term "extensive knowledge".  And production values?  Check out this video on invasive plants.  Can you see anything she’s pointing to?  The apparent problem with shadows seems pervasive, too, so when experts says "as you can see," it’s kinda funny.

And here’s another example of their low production standards:  Garden shop owner Allan Watts offers his "Basic Tips for New Gardeners" videos – 16 of them – which he clearly taped himself.  We know that because the camera is static and he’s a talking head, a really dull one.  Here’s an example.   Also notice the location – his store.

And once again with the annoying mishmash of home-and-garden titles.

Now let’s see how the English fare at this endeavor.  Here’s How to Care for Your Lawn in Autumn.  While the production values are professional, I may be entirely too American because a lot of the narration was lost on me.  And not just because of the accent but wow, who knew that gardening terminology could be so different and what the heck is a besom?  And in the link above you’ll witness the sweeping of a lawn, a putting-green-height lawn at that.  (Are their turfgrass species really that different?)  And how about their advice to spread a "top dressing" of 6 parts sharp sand, 3 parts topsoil and 1 part peat on the lawn?  Maybe the subject of gardening isn’t as exportable as we think.

"Digital culture" blogger, mediaangler.com, provides a nice segue:

Videojug is run out of the UK by a band of television professionals.
Viewdo was founded by a couple of American guys seeking out a cool
business to grow. Videojug goes on location to film instructional
videos, Viewdo puts more onus on the user to supply video of their
special skill or knowledge base.

So let’s see how those two American blokes made out with their venture.  Unfortunately, their Home and Garden listings don’t actually include any on gardening, though the exacting task of folding a napkin is thoroughly explored.  Enough said. 

Why all this interest in gardening videos?  Because I received a solicitation to appear as an expert myself and survived the taping of my first video, a 9-part ditty called "Sustainable Gardening".  It will debut next month on Monkeysee.com, which our digital blogging friend would call a "Web 2.0 content start-up."  (Now can somebody tell me what Web 2.0 means?)

And while I’m impressed with Monkeysee’s professionalism, there’s no telling what my video will look like on screen or how it will function.  Case in point:  On About.com I clicked on a video about deadheading flowers only to be shown a video of Jennifer Love Hewitt selling bras.  Gotta make a buck first, I suppose. But if it turns out that viewers clicking on "Sustainable Gardening" first have to sit through an ad for Anusel suppositories, I’m outta there.  I swear to God.


  1. This American gardener is fond of ‘How to Be A Gardener’, a BBC tv series available on Google Video. It’s eight half-hour episodes, with Alan Titchmarsh as host.

  2. Susan – web 1.0 is the older, established website that is a one-way communication model. From the website to the reader with little interaction.

    Web 2.0 is a user generated website where the users add the content. Think flickr, youtube etc.
    Blogs are a 1.0/2.0 mashup with some one-way (your rant) and some user-generated (comments)

    Web 3.0 is upon us with sharing and accessing databases. Applications are being developed so that different databases can talk to each other or the data inside them can be shared/used in different ways. Amazon for example will give you an API – a database key – so you can design software using their database of information (and hopefully selling their products in the process) Google has long given us an API key so our databases can update and talk to their database. This too will change the way we look at the information on the Net as developers are able to further refine information searching (digial searching for example) and share that information.

    Don’t ask me about web 4.0 – no idea yet. 🙂

    But gardening is way more fun.

  3. Thanks for all the above links. When I find the time I plan on checking them out.

    This summer I will be having an assistant working with me in the office and out in the field.
    She is normally an art teacher during the school year and teaches videography , photography and moving performing arts.

    Perhaps we can produce a film of one of our installations .. ?

    Hummmm, intriguing ideas abound ! .. lights , camera, action ! ~ Garden Porn hits the small screen.

  4. The most helpful garden video I’ve seen in a long time is from Hanna @ This Garden is Illegal.

    Since you don’t allow links in your comments, people will just have to Google “How to String Up Tomatoes in the Garden”. I wish I had such a daring spousal unit.

  5. I watched a few of them on About.com – I’d give them a C.

    Garden photography really is an art and all of the clips seemed to be shot in full blazing sun and are so bleached out/overexposed.

    For the time being, I’ll stick to my garden shows on TV/cable.

  6. Re: “THE BRITS DO IT BETTER”. On my last visit to Britain, I gazed gape-mouthed at a wheezy old gentleman at Glastonbury pushing a huge, old rotary mower, cutting 1-inch grass to 1/2 inch grass. With so many cool days and abundant rainfall, that’s what you get in Britain. I also recall seeing a little sign WAY in the middle of a grassy lawn in Wales. Walked ‘way over to read it. It said, I kidyounot, “Please keep off the grass.” Of course, the best grass in the UK grows in the cemeteries, where they loose the sheep to graze periodically….

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