The world of gardeners returning tonight for another season, is one of the BBC’s longest running programs first in 1968. You might think that in today’s online, modern world, where many Brits do not have gardens, there could be no place for some guy planting tomatoes in prime time on Friday night TV. You would be wrong. Our nation’s love for the program has not only survived, it is flourishing.
Independent dealers reported increases in seed sales during lockdowns. And as new gardeners took their first uncertain steps, seeking solace in the midst of the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic, the show’s audience has also grown. According to figures from the BBC, The world of the gardener pulls regularly audience of over 2.5 million.
Previously 30 minutes long, the show expanded to a full hour, and a couple of winter shows were even run to keep up with an insatiable demand for garden material from mobs, no doubt armed with trout demanding more.
Videos posted by viewers were introduced to the show in 2021 and have been popping up ever since, giving ordinary people everywhere a chance to show their hard work in front of the masses.
In the stress of the pandemic, these clips were a breath of fresh air. We saw real gardens and the simplest feats made me smile. Even the coldest heart would crack by the guy in Birmingham who proudly displays his tropical plants lying in a back alley between his neighbor’s trash cans, or the little girl who tells us how to grow peppers in egg cups.
I started to see The world of the gardener in 2014, when I was in my mid-thirties and we had finally reached the real estate ladder. Our one bed in Clapham in south London had such a small garden. However, I was quickly hooked on the wise counsel of Chief Representative Monty Don. His words, along with co-presenter Carol Klein’s knowledge of stamens and vortices, opened my eyes to gardening and nature.
I would note down the plants that best suit our largely shady little garden and order them, instead of going to a garden center and blindly choosing what I thought looked good at the time.
Over the years, I was encouraged as many of them bloomed and attracted bees and hoverflies. Even in the most unlikely and difficult places, such as dry, shady corners next to fences or walls.
Often people assume that nothing will grow in these small or difficult spaces, especially in urban areas. Occasionally I got my green fingers burned by planting the wrong plant in the wrong place. But every week, the show was a real help, as experts always described how to grow things and where they would do well. Eventually, I made an unexpected career focal point in landscape design.
The popularity of The world of the gardener is not guaranteed, even in a country as occupied by ours as the UK. Its manufacturers continue to keep up with the times. In the last season, viewers like me have been told what we can look forward to. Two meter long balconies are a challenge to make convincing televisions, but in 2022 they will be included. Like indoor houseplants that people have instead of living rooms.
And for the professional gardeners, there is always the #shoutyhalftime, where they can share their own opinions and enjoy the satisfaction of teaching the presenters a thing or two.
Maybe we are all attracted to The world of gardeners because it reminds us that no matter the place or the circumstances, wonderful things can grow.