If you are reading this blog, chances are that you would agree that gardening itself can be an art. It seems logical to conclude then that adding an artistic subject like gardening to an artistic medium like TV could propel the end product into High Art, but for some reason garden programming has never really achieved that. In fact, much of it is downright bad and boring.
In spite of that, I do have the word “garden” programmed into my DVR so any show with "garden" in the title gets recorded. Sometimes that means I have to go through my library and erase movies like “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, "Garden State" (great soundtrack, by the way) and "Grey Gardens" as well as a surprising amount of QVC's gardening sale-a-thons or whatever they’re called. But it also means I have hours and hours of sometimes inspirational and entertaining garden programming.
From time to time on this blog I am going to review some of those shows. This time I will start with one of the better known gardening shows, “Gardening by the Yard”.
When I first bought a house and had to tackle the daunting task of doing something with the yard, "GbtY" was the first gardening show I discovered on HGTV. In that way, it served as my introduction to some of the basic and finer points of gardening and it became the standard by which I would measure all other garden shows. Like an adult child, I would wake up on Saturday mornings and tune into "GbtY" as if it were my favorite cartoon. I devoured episodes as quickly as they aired and after I got my fix I would be stoked about gardening and I would rush out into the yard or drive off to the nursery armed with some new knowledge or inspiration.
The show is hosted by Paul James who goes by the alias “The Gardener Guy.” It's not a super creative nickname, but that’s just me being unnecessarily persnickety. Paul James is the perfect host for a gardening program. With equal amounts levity and botanical nerdiness, James walked the fine line between entertainment and education. The result was probably the most accessible program for new gardeners with enough meat and variety to the programming to keep the interest of more seasoned veterans. Most of the segments were filmed either in James’ own yard in Oklahoma or at the gardens and nurseries of show guests across the US. That gave the show a practical, real-world-applicable feel to it. As much as we can all marvel at the world’s famous gardens and conservatories, most of us have little gardens attached to humble abodes and no staff to attend those gardens so it helps to see the way a pro tackles routine functions like edging beds, storing tools, composting, thinning vegetables, and cleaning up after storms - all of which are representative of the topics covered by "GbtY".
"GbtY" taught me several things that have become standard operating procedure in my life as a gardener. For one, I stole his term for justifying not waging an all-out war against weeds in my lawn: “biodiversity.” Also lawn related, James was the person to convince me to give up the putting green look. He convinced me that the best thing I could do for my lawn was to set my mower at its highest setting, use a mulching mower and let the clippings fall where they may, mow regularly so that I wouldn't cut off too much at once, and to fertilize less often than the fertilizer companies say we should.
Check out Gardener Guy TV for several more 2-3 minutes clips by clicking here.
You can also see full episodes of GbtY by visiting HGTV's web site here.