Monday, April 6, 2009

Gardeners' World and the big 1-0-0

Well, I was going to write about the new Gardeners' World garden, and then I noticed this was my 100th post. So I thought it was only fair to mark the occasion by expressing my gratitude to all those of you who have read my blog, laughed at my jokes, and generally supported me through good times and some very sad times. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Anyway, back to GW. You can read my condensed comments at the Guardian's gardening blog where a few of us were invited to give our views, in the style of the Strictly Come Dancing judges (Garden Monkey was Len Goodman, I was Craig Revel Horwood. And revel is the word...). However, I thought I'd like to say a bit more. (VP, one of my fellow judges, has done the same.)
I wasn't a Monty Don addict, or a huge admirer of Berryfields, so I was fairly open-minded about the new garden. However, I must say, I felt a bit cheated. When I first saw Greenacre I wasn't inspired - and I'm sure a lot of would-be gardeners feel just like that if they've moved into a new-build property with only a bare fence and a patch of lawn. In the words of Noel Coward, it looked Very Flat.
So, did we get some advice on how you go about breaking up a rather dauntingly featureless expanse? Nope. We got Toby Buckland waving a piece of paper around, some mechanical diggers, and then hey presto, a very long wall and a very big greenhouse materialised as if by magic, complete with hard landscaping.
Now, I think most of us are capable of going down to the garden centre and buying a few pots of daffodils or tulips to brighten up the garden at this time of year. What most of us find really difficult are the expensive, irreversible decisions of gardening - the bit where you have to make crucial choices about paving, and structure, and trees, and siting of ponds and so on. It would have been great to have had a much more detailed analysis of that process.
I'm still not convinced, however, that the very premise of a BBC garden is a good one. Like anything designed by committe, it's never going to have the soul and sense of place that you find in a garden that is the vision of an individual. To me, even the Royal Horticultural Society gardens have a slightly municipal feel about them compared to, say, Great Dixter or Hidcote.
I think I'd rather see real gardens, and real problems: the series of makeovers that Joe Swift has been doing in Gardeners' World magazine has been fascinating. So I hope there will be lots more Me and My Garden slots, especially if the owners are as beguiling as last week's.