Are you ready for another gripe session about HGTV? Here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at the station we love to rant about.
A few weeks ago someone wrote to the local horticulture Yahoo group requesting a good-looking garden to use in an HGTV program. It promised a chance to "Show off your garden!" So I responded and got an immediate call to arrange a visit to see my garden. Logistics were discussed. Then I asked if there was anything in this for the gardener – credit, giveaways, money? Well, no. That’s right – not even crediting the gardener. So I declined and posted this info to the Yahoo group.
Well, I guess no suitable garden was found because a week later I received a really sweet email from someone else at the TV production company about the very same shoot. She started by saying she’s a big fan of mine, has signed up for the DC Master Gardener program and is even volunteering at a project we’ve been promoting over at DC Urban Gardener News. She had me at "big fan."
Trouble is, this nice person, clearly a gardener, had been asked by the show’s producer for assistance in "sprucing up the garden and rallying up some gardening help." The work had to be done immediately. And this part should come as no surprise: "We don’t have a budget for plant purchasing or landscape designers. This is a lighting design show and that is where the budget has been spent. But we don’t want the exteriors to be beautifully lit with dead (looking) plants."
But now for the worst bit: Could DC’s budding or established Master Gardeners volunteer to spruce up their location for them? I gulped and replied that Master Gardeners volunteer for projects at schools, parks and similar public places – you know, community service*.
So you see my double-edged rant includes people who seek to subvert the mission of Master Gardeners by soliciting their precious volunteer hours for commercial purposes. (Here in DC the written purpose of the program is to "educate interested audiences about effective and sustainable horticultural practices and landscape problem-solving.") From talking to Master Gardener coordinators around the country I know that inappropriate requests are a common problem but this one takes the cake. (Most of the requests that get a big NO are for these trained horticultural educators to be used as manual laborers.)
But let’s get back to the problems at HGTV (and I’m regularly contacted by their frustrated viewers, many of whom think the G be removed from the name to reflect the true state of their programming). When I told a friend the story – and she’s a PR professional who’s worked with the local HGTV producers – her only response was: "HGTV – they’re just take, take, take."