Thursday, April 22, 2010

Well, he gets my vote

No, not Nick Clegg, but Matthew Wilson, presenter of Landscape Man, which began this evening on Channel 4. To be honest, I was a bit put off by the advance publicity, which made it sound like Ground Force on a grand scale. But the programme itself did not disappoint.
This week's episode was about Keith and Ros Wiley and their amazing garden at Wildside. Keith is the former head gardener at The Garden House and Ros is a painter. As well as creating the garden, they also run a nursery, so they're experienced horticulturalists. But Wildside is a garden on a vast scale.
Created from a flat four-acre site, Keith has sculpted the land into a series of hills and hummocks, precipices and ponds. The area of garden that is already planted up is beautiful - a naturalistic sea of waving grasses and flowers. Matthew followed the couple, who live in a "glorified shed" on site, as they created the next phase of the garden - a water garden and a Mexican courtyard while battling with lack of cash and in Ros's case, tendonitis from too much weeding.
The programme had some similarities with Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud's series about building houses. There was a lot of will-they, won't-they-make-it? to heighten the dramatic tension. But basically it was a story of one man's dream - to impose his vision on the surrounding landscape and by doing so, put down the roots of a new life.
It was fascinating and moving and above all, satisfyingly intelligent viewing. (Though I could have done with a bit more about the plants.)
Personally, I could have watched six programmes about the Wileys. Well done, Matthew!