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Who digs gardening TV these days?

TV on grass

Gardening TV’s taking over, with stalwarts Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don now going head-to-head on ITV and BBC respectively. But isn’t it time for something new, or are you happy with the state of gardening TV?

Alan Titchmarsh is back. Not that he ever went away of course, but he hasn’t been gardening regularly on our screens since the heady days of Ground Force. Now he’s got a new show, Love Your Garden, on Friday nights at 8pm on ITV, which pitches him against Monty Don over on BBC2’s Gardeners’ World at 8.30pm.

Monty vs Titchy

The deep-rooted Gardeners’ World has had mixed fortunes of late. A ‘Top Gear’ magazine-style format with new presenters and a new garden in Birmingham was not deemed a success. And several presenters, including Toby Buckland and Alys Fowler, were dropped. Now the show is filmed in Monty’s own garden and has a ‘no frills’ approach.

The two programmes are quite different. In Love Your Garden, Alan visits ‘normal’ gardens, chats to the owners and gives tips on how to achieve the look they want. Gardeners’ World follows Monty as he does various jobs, pausing to listen to birdsong as he goes.

Alan’s programme is unashamedly commercial – details of products mentioned in the show are released beforehand so retailers are prepared. Monty is organic, makes his own compost and is anti-peat. He comes across as rather posh – his garden is impossibly grand and large.

A growing audience?

At the moment Alan’s winning the ratings war (and has a clear run at the moment thanks to Wimbledon programming taking over the BBC), but Monty isn’t without his fans.

Perhaps most importantly, the viewing figures for both shows combined is well over five million. Yet, debate still rages on over the quality of gardening programmes on TV – and who should be presenting them.

Since Alan’s departure from Gardeners’ World, viewers have debated the merits of various presenters and no one has come out on top. In fact they all seem to have the ‘marmite’ factor – people love them or can’t stand the sight of them. And no programme has ever reached the viewing figures that Ground Force achieved in the 90s.

For me, Carol Klein’s lyrical programme about her garden in Devon was the best thing I’ve seen on TV for a long time. Filming the garden over the course of a year, with ‘time lapse’ photography, was a masterstroke.

But as far as prime-time gardening shows go, I think it’s time for something new. I’d like to see some new faces and a fresh approach. With interest in gardening and grow your own at an all-time high, someone, somewhere, must have some ideas, surely?

Which show do you prefer – Love Your Garden or Gardeners’ World? And generally what do you want from gardening programmes on TV? Is it time for something new?

Phil says:
1 July 2011

How did this get into Which? Conversations?

err… Which? Home & Garden department?

Phil says:
1 July 2011

To quote the banner on the Which? Conversation home page:-

“Which? Conversation, our space to comment on today’s consumer issues and your place to discuss how they affect your life.”

So “Monty vs Titchy” is a consumer issue which affects people’s lives is it?

Hi Phil, thanks for the comment. We cover lots of issues on Which? Conversation, where some may not be quite as serious as others. We have a very active Garden team at Which? and gardening TV shows can impact on how gardeners spend their money. And as far as Gardeners’ World goes, it’s paid for by the BBC TV licence, so can also be seen as a consumer issue in that light. Thanks.

David says:
1 July 2011

There are far too many gardening programmes already with the presenters suddenly becoming “celebrities” to whom we should tug our forelocks in the street. If we need different gardening programmes then they should be geared to growing your own vegetables and fruit rather than colour
coordinated herbaceous borders.

Beejan says:
1 July 2011

Monty Don every time. Disagree with your comment about him being posh. Alan Titchmarsh’s programme is good but he now comes across as a presenter rather than a gardener. The advertising time spoils it too as with every programme on commercial tv.

I agree that Carols program was very good, also Monty’s italian garden tour. Monty Don is presenting a very good Gardeners world , back to the basic formula.

Monty Don’s Gardener’s World is far better than Alan Titchmarsh’s “noddy” offering. There is also nothing “posh” about Monty – he is a very down to earth gardener; and why does the writer think his garden is “impossibly grand and large”? We don’t all have the pocket handkerchief gardens that developers of new housing estates seem to think we should have.

I don’t think we have enough gardening programs on TV we have so many TV channels to choose from so nobody could say we are being swamped with gardening programming.
Speaking personally I prefer BBC every time as the ad breaks are so irritating!
Last night I was sitting at the looking at iPlayer to see whats on and “The Beachgrove Garden” was on BBC 1 Scotland I’ve also discovered that you can watch this channel on cable too, I’ve not seen this since i was a child growing up in Fife, we now live in South Wales it was great to know this program is still going as it meets real people in real gardens http://www.thebeechgrovegarden.com/
We’re Monty fans here but we do get annoyed when they show you the quantity of plants and materials used but fail to tell you how many hundred of pounds they are spending!
and are TV licence payers buying Monty his plants ?…..

Kim Carter says:
1 July 2011

I am new to gardening and looked forward to Love Your Garden. It promised to show us how to….But it didn’t. It showed us around a country garden and a formal garden and at the end of the programmes I was none the wiser. Not a fan of A T anyway so won’t bother with the rest of the series. (I never watch anything on ITV live as I can’t stand the adverts) so Monty is the man for me

Helen says:
2 July 2011

Alan, Carol & Monty are all very good in their different ways. Are they too old? Of course not, they are very experienced and that is possibly the most useful tool of all in gardening and it only comes with the years. All of them are also experimental at times and with their experience are more likely to be successful at this.
I am more fed up with no-nothing young presenters on popular programmes.

Helen says:
2 July 2011

Just noticed my typo. Sorry. …know-nothing….!

Jen says:
2 July 2011

This is a consumer issue because gardening, and everything connected to it, is big business. There can hardly be too many programs when, except for Chelsea, there is only 1 a week. Thank heavens the output has recently doubled. I enjoy any gardening program except Italian gardens full of clipped trees and olives. There are many types of TV viewer including those who cannot gt out any more or garden. There should be a range for all ages and interests. Perhaps repeat some from 10 years ago? I agree Carol is my favorite as her passion for the subject shines through. Less rubbish like Geordie Shore and more gardening programs please

Deb says:
2 July 2011

I don’t know about a ‘Top Gear’ style of programme, but I found the previous series of GW far more enjoyable & informative than the current, which has reverted to a tired old format.
Toby & Alys are professionally qualified, true horticultiralists. They earn their living that way, as do Carol & Joe. The programmes they presented were fresh & lively, & catered for all tastes & levels of experience.
I gave up watching Monty some time ago, although I did view an episode a couple of weeks ago to see if things had changed for the better. They haven’t – boring, repetive, mundane tasks presented by someone who appears posh & patronising.
Monty is indeed a celebrity gardener – a background in costume jewellery, a stint as a TV journalist on a holiday programme, & then put before us as a gardener. He is certainly skilled in marketing & reinventing himself.

Dave says:
6 July 2011

I didn’t see the Toby and Alys version as a ‘Top Gear’ type of programme, either. I found it more useful than the current format and Toby, in particular, explained things succinctly and very well. I think it did manage that most difficult of tasks: dealing with the many different levels of viewers’ gardening experience within the same programme.

Liz says:
7 July 2011

Toby and Alys were excellent. I found their programmes interesting and very instructive.
I am sure Monty Don has a wonderful garden, but as it is so unlike mine and has so little in common with the way I garden, I began to find it boring and have stopped watching it.

I would very much like Toby and Alys to return. I learnt so many useful tips from them.
Many of us really enjoy down to earth information about the sort of things we try to achieve in our gardens, the more help and advice from experts the better. That is what they provided.

Lyn says:
9 July 2011

Agree with the last comments – the most frustrating thing about Alan Titchmarsh’s programme is because of the commercials it is not long enough! I thought Monty Don in the Gardeners World garden was OK but to be honest his own garden is so far removed from my suburban plot that I’ve lost interest and stopped watching GW. And yes, it does make a difference to me that at the end of the day, for all his presenting skills, he is not a qualified professional gardener, just an knowledgeable amateur. I’m a member of my local horticultural society and there are plenty around………….

Angela says:
26 July 2011

For me personally, Monty is my favourite. But trying to establish a public favourite is like asking the public to pick a favourite flower. Impossible. They all have their own unique qualities and what appeals to one person will not necessarily appeal to another. Lets appreciate them all. x

I am a relatively late entrant to gardening and enjoy Monty Don.I think the programme would be much improved if the Latin and English names of the various plants were left on screen long enough to make a written note of them. This would facilitate further reading up of the items discussed.