Lost Opportunity……

Enormous thanks to all of you, students past and present, who called to congratulate Carol and I on winning one of the I Own Britain’s Best Home & Garden trophies from the judges on the Channel Five programme of the same name.

We were, of course, delighted to win our category for our much-loved garden at Greystone and likewise, our congratulations to all the other winners.

That said, and since we were one of the winners this is in no way sour grapes on my part, I can’t help feeling the entire programme, instead of being the perfect platform to not only promote but show the benefits of good design to viewers, was a lost opportunity for all of us involved in the field.

My first criticism of the programme format would be that the producers did not chose to critique gardens of a similar style in each category which, in a way, somewhat tarnished the glow we felt upon winning our category. The garden that we were up against was completely different in its style and feel and so we felt deep commiserations for those owners because in its own right, it was a fantastic garden too.

Secondly, I can’t understand for the life of me why the programme-makers chose not to use botanical names when discussing the plants and planting combinations in each selected garden. Or why the panel of three judges didn’t insist on this before singing their contracts. The fact is, garden centres sell their plants by their Latin and not their common names, and so if part of the aim of the programme was to educate viewers and de-mystify garden design and gardening, then it failed miserably in this respect.

I also felt, and this is entirely my personal opinion of course, that on occasion, the Judges too let themselves down. Many of the comments they were making came across as entirely subjective at best and at worst, downright inane which again, would have been quite insulting to the people who had worked so hard to produce beautiful gardens worthy of selection in the first place.

Carol and I both enjoyed meeting the presenter, Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen, and felt enormous respect for his professionalism. He’s a man who certainly knows about design and space but unfortunately, whoever wrote his dumbed-down links for him managed brilliantly to disguise the fact he is so knowledgeable and I know several viewers who, after the first episode, cancelled their Sky Plus series link because they felt much of the content was so superficial.

Interestingly, when we called the Producers after the first episode to make some of these observations with the regard to the content and the format, we were told the programme was aimed not at the demographic most likely to actually care about gardens and garden design (i.e. predominantly empty-nesters and the owners of larger gardens) but at 30-something males.

Uh, is it me…. or do the Producers need to sit down, before the next series, with someone from the world of gardens and garden design who actually knows what they are talking about?