Winter Tracings And Seeking Inspiration

As predicted, yesterday afternoon temperatures dropped. Rain turned to sleet and snow, quickly dusting and revealing the garden borders and meditation circle.

It is sunny this morning. The snow will soon depart, but the image leaves me contemplating why my garden design has become so stuck. I have not given it enough attention in recent years—I know that. But even when I was actively trying, I never dreamed big enough it seems.

I say that because recently my husband and I have begun watching episodes on Netflix of two British reality TV shows on landscape gardening.

One featuring Monty Don is titled Big Dreams, Small Spaces. In this series he visits lucky home gardeners, hears their goals and plans, makes suggestions, then returns once to check on progress, and a final time to reveal the results to his viewers and celebrate with a glass of champagne with the garden owners family and friends. By the end of the show the home gardeners have cut down trees, invasive vines and cleared rubbish; built walls, ponds, terraces and pathways; planted orchards, installed living walls and created multiple borders around their property all full of hundreds of English garden flowers in full bloom.

The other show is a bit of a tear jerker, but it is more interesting to me. Love Your Garden features horticulturist Alan Titchmarsh. This show’s premise has him going around the U.K. providing garden makeovers for deserving citizens. The garden owners are sent away for a while (exactly how long is not clear) while a team of experts comes in creates a garden customized for the owners needs and interests. I like this show better because there is more effort to introduce and describe the plants being used, money seems never to be an issue, and the labor it takes to do such projects seems more accurately portrayed.  There are a few awkward contrivances, nods toward the reality show template that try to hype or to create drama, tension or humor—the show would be better without these distractions—but the episodes are full of information.

Both of these shows do a good job of showcasing public and private gardens where one can find inspiration for solving similar garden problems. Only one season each of these British shows are currently available, but I hope more will be released here.

While I am dreaming of a complete garden overhaul, I am curious what you think. Are you familiar with these garden icons? Do you study their books? Have you watched the shows?  Where do you find inspiration?

 

37 thoughts on “Winter Tracings And Seeking Inspiration

  1. Donna@GardensEyeView

    I have not watched these shows yet but they are now marked in my Netflix to watch so thank you for that….I too look for inspiration as I try to make changes on a very fixed income. I think nature gives me lots of inspiration, beautiful gardens we visit, blogs and then shows like these that are sorely lacking here in the US.

    I am not looking for a complete overhaul as I know we will move within the next 5-7 yrs, but just a freshening up would be great.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hope you enjoy the shows Donna. I’m not sure how long we’re going to be here either so I hesitate to invest a lot more into the garden.

      Reply
  2. Kris P

    I watched both series on You tube last year (as well as BBC’s “Gardener’s World”). I love Alan Titchmarsh and remember watching his “Ground Force” show, broadcast in the US for a time years ago. I wish HGTV hadn’t effectively scrubbed its garden coverage over the years – I still miss “A Gardener’s Diary.” That said, in the past, I’ve sought most of my inspiration from garden books and magazines but, more recently, rely heavily on Pinterest and, to a lesser extent, blogs.

    I saw coverage of the current storm in NC on this morning’s news. Stay safe!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Weather is all clear today, Kris. Thanks. I’ll have to browse YouTube for more to watch. The shows here that I’ve seen spend way too much time making stars out of the hosts and filling the shows with silly banter, leaving little time to impart real information. Perhaps I should have activated the trial subscription for Hortus TV we got at the Fling.

      Reply
  3. automatic gardener

    I miss the HGTV shows too, but I will look up the British ones. No matter how hard I try, I cannot design a garden. I see myself as a grower and look at each plant individually. With that said, I just hired someone to freshen up my front yard and replace aging shrubbery that will make the HOA happy.

    Reply
  4. Ali

    We all love Monty. I can’t bear Titchmarsh. It has become something of a joke: my Monty crush and total rejection of Tit Marsh.

    Reply
  5. Cathy

    Hi Susie. I am familiar with both of them and love Monty Don from his weekly Gardeners’ World programme. My Mum is a great fan of Alan Titchmarsh who also appears on that programme, and both are regular reporters on the Chelsea Flower Show for example. I am also doing some broader thinking out of the box right now, but am taking inspiration from the nature around us as well as some great garden designers and plantsmen like Pete Oudolf, Karl Foerster etc. who focus on the planting more than the ‘hardware’ of the garden. Changes mean hard work, but that is also part of the fun and my garden will never be ‘finished’!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Such a thoughtful reply. Thanks for clarifying about Monty and Alan. I’ll look for Gardener’ World. Your garden has evolved nicely over the years I like focusing on plantings more than hardscape, but I do see the value of both. You’re right the garden will never be finished.

      Reply
  6. johnvic8

    I would love to create another garden, but, alas, we are in the process of “right-sizing” (the new term for downsizing) and will move to a retirement community this summer. The thought of not having a garden to putter about in is challenging, but we know it’s the right thing to do (at least I hope I think it’s the right thing to do). I still go to sleep at night designing that next garden. Perhaps I can influence my grandkids.
    I’m not familiar with Monty Don but did watch Alan T. many times years ago when his show was on PBS. I did watch…in real life…Japanese gardeners create small city gardens even with a large tree in the space of just a few days. And they were elegant.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Best of luck to you John as you “right-size” and move. Hope there will be community plots or some other opportunity for you to continue gardening a bit. The Japanese gardens (I’ve seen pictures only) would be my inspiration for another garden.

      Reply
  7. Pauline

    I have watched both programmes and they are very different. Monty’s programme on BBC i think work to a budget of £1,500 and the people do all the work with their friends. Alan T’s programme on ITV has so much money spent on the gardens, they can’t be used as an example for the rest of us. I feel they include far too much and I also feel that their planting leaves a bit to be desired for the future, even though they look very good immediately., it makes good television, but what will they look like in 5 years time!
    I get my inspiration from nature and visiting other gardens, also you have to go with the conditions which are already in your garden, boggy, well drained, sunny or shade etc.
    I am now thinking that I must simplify my garden, it’s either that or move and I certainly don’t want to move!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Interesting to hear your take on these two gardeners Pauline. I agree some of the gardens on these shows don’t look easy to maintain at all, especially for people who are so busy taking care of themselves or family with special needs. As you consider simplifying your garden, I’ll be curious how you go about that.

      Reply
  8. Christina

    Hi Susie; all of Alan Titchmarshe’s gardens are on YouTube. I think many of them aren’t sustainable by the owners and are often actually only geared to look good in the season the show is made. As a designer I think Monty has a much better understanding of ‘the possible’ but using very sound design concepts. I went to hear him speak last September. Also on YouTube is a 2 part series entitled Paradise Gardens which I found very inspiring. Gardeners’ World is now back each week also with Monty but with others too which is also on YouTube Enjoy!!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks for letting me know about the other shows Christina. I’ll look for them–Paradise Gardens sounds like it would be good–I need a good dose of inspiration. Although I understand it wouldn’t be the best way to create a garden, around here I don’t even know where I could shop to buy those full-sized plants in bloom that would make an instantly lush, rich garden. It’s fascinating to watch the transformations.

      Reply
  9. Chloris

    Like Christina I went to hear Monty talk. A few years ago he spoke at Hay Literary festival. He gave a wonderful talk about the Soil Association and the global food system. He spoke so well he got a standing ovation. I bet quite a few people went home determined to grow their own. He is the thinking gardeners gardener. And he looks very sexy in his cordoroys. I read somewhere that his dress sense is a combination of ‘ French peasant and out of work actor’, but it suits him. I don’t have a t.v. but I think I will see if I can catch up with him on Youtube.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hi Liz, Monty is certainly getting all the votes (knowledge and appeal!). Wonderful you got to hear him speak. I have wondered why he dresses as he does. We haven’t had a TV for many years either but it’s nice to be able to stream some of these garden series for inspirations. I will check out the offerings on YouTube. Thanks.

      Reply
  10. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    HGTV doesn’t seem to carry garden shows anymore so I’ll check these out. I am a big DIY fan inside and out, but it does annoy me that it looks like two amateurs complete a project that would realistically take a landscaping company six months to do. Oh well, it is intended to be entertainment. 🙂

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hi Judy, I liked these shows because despite being entertaining, they do seem to have some real information to share. I gave up on HGTV many years ago so didn’t even know it no longer had garden shows.

      Reply
  11. Brian Skeys

    It is funny how we have different views of two garden programs. I like the Monty one because it is done by the garden owners, Love your garden seems so over the top to me, it is sponsored by companies so money is no problem and the planting is often a mix of plants that would not normally flower together here. It’s saving grace is the good that it does. John Brooks is a well respected designer who has published several books. He is known for designing gardens that relate to the style and proportions of the house. With your meditation circle, which I love, do you think adding a few oriental elements such as acers, rocks and a water feature would create a style to compliment you interests. What ever you do it is what pleases you that is the most important feature.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      That mix of plants would not normally flower together here either. Maybe that’s why I was so enraptured by it, thinking how lucky it would be to live where all that would grow and bloom all season. So it’s a myth! Ok. Thanks for mentioning John Brooks. I will check out his work. I appreciate your comments about the meditation circle Brian. The ideas you mention are things I’ve considered as well. Right now I’m just stuck in my head–need to really get out into the soil again.

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hope you enjoy them Jason. From the comments here most people seem to value the Monty show higher, but I want that instantly lush, richly blooming look created on the other show.

      Reply
      1. pbmgarden Post author

        Ha, Queen for a Day! I used to watch that with my grandmother and haven’t thought of it in years. Glad you and Judy are enjoying Love Your Garden. Monty Don decidedly came in ahead of Allan T. on the comments I received.

  12. digwithdorris

    I don’t watch either of these shows and stick with Gardeners World. Monty on G W seems to have become little more than an anchor man between articles and seems to do very little actual gardening. There is also far too much about the dogs. I love dogs and am a fan of the programme but it seems to have changed. Perhaps I should try the other programmes.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks for your take on this. I will look for Gardeners World on YouTube. I’d really enjoy a show that’s packed full, like a university lecture course, without any of the hype or drama about whether the work can be completed on time, or personalities can come together to agree on planting styles, etc.

      Reply
  13. bittster

    You almost sound as if you’re contemplating something!
    Thanks for the suggestions, I’m going to have to look them up tonight since I’ve gone through most of the gardener’s world episodes on youtube and need a replacement!

    Reply
  14. tonytomeo

    I do not watch any of those shows. I have not watched any since Gardening By The Yard with Paul James. He did a segment at the farm about grafting camellias. I really liked him because he was horticulturally correct, and did not push flashy gardening. I do not need any inspiration for gardening, and I really do not like anyone telling me how to do it. I am not designer, and I like my garden to be very simple and utilitarian. Many clients like flashy gardens, and that is fine, but everyone must decide what works for them. I have never been one to push my ideas or my preferences.

    Reply
  15. P&B

    Nature is my inspiration. As a beekeeper, I also have to think of the bees and other pollinators when I select plants and spots to put them. I think garden is like a piece of art- beauty is in the eye of a beholder. I love they way you arrange yours.

    Reply

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