gardening on tv

Paul_OKOctober 1, 2003

What would you do if you had the opportunity to produce a garden tv show?

Are there formats that you prefer or hate?

Do you like more, shorter segments or fewer, longer, more in depth segments.

I am thinking about a 30 min program mainly for local broadcast.

Any ideas you are willing to share?

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I was on TV once but my wife said "GET OFF THAT TV, YOU'LL SCRATCH IT" I would suppose the main thing would be to just try to make it interesting. I have learned some people are turned off by chemical recommendations. I have also heard it takes all day to shoot a scene that will only play for ten minutes. I would bring in garden guests to speak about their views and practices. I would try to share my knowledge in a way that got through to the majority of fellow gardeners but I would absolutely refuse to dumb-down my material. The segment time should fit the topic - I'm a bottom-line type of guy who reduces things to their lowest common denominator. For instance: Herbs need full sun, lots of lime and excellent drainage. Thank you very much, that's all for today. (The rest is just a laundry list of cultivar selection) So Paul, my advice is to jump in there and do it, plus, try something different from the other garden shows- have someone play garden-related songs live on an instrument in the middle of a meadow of wilflowers, Show tree houses, make a cut tire planter, Don't just grow the stuff, show people how to cook and eat some of the things they grow. Show children and old folks in the garden and cats and dogs and that will tug at people's heart strings. While you're filming all this stuff be filming the process of filming for some behind-the-scenes shows later on. People LOVE to talk about and hear about gardening. They WANT to hear what you have to say even if they have heard it before - it only reinforces their memory. Create an alter ego (you with overalls and Bubba teeth) who poses a garden question, then the real you comes along and answers it. Invite me to be on your show, I'll shake them up, if not with my wisdom then with the clothes I wear.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2003 at 7:30PM
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Gonna give Oklahoma Gardening a run for the money? Have you ever watched them tape a segment? To some it seems painstakingly slow and dull but to me I thought it looked easy and more simple then the finished product led me to believe. I mean the camera man is the producer and the talent really does the work and thats the whole crew.

If it were me I would plan it out to the nth degree and then realize that once you get going with it it develops into its own being and may not be exactly what you had planned. Not always a bad thing. I guess what I'm saying is maybe you shouldn't worry too much because your audience will help you develop the show - you'll know if you're providing a service to them or not. I wouldn't try to look like the other shows but the information you give will be similar (unless they're planting and weeding differently now).

I believe that any hobby can be divided into sub groups: established experts, accomplished enthusiast, relatively new but well learned, and absolute beginners. You can't be everything to everybody so don't even try - just do the best you can do and provide the information in a way that makes you the happiest (if you're not a comedian already you won't fool anyone with a stand up act). You will come off as knowledgable and you will develop a core audience.

Keep it local! Local info is what the gardening public is the most hungry for. No more pictures from the PNW or tours of England, leave that for the other shows.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 11:40AM
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TriangleJohn, I thought your advice was outstanding.
Eddie from GA.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 4:54PM
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Thank you to all,

Who know what the next year or two will bring? I have been doing weekly segments for a local station and having a good time. Granted a couple of minutes once a week isn't anything like putting a whole show together.

I am mostly interested to see what other communicators like. I really do like the local angle. I do a one-hour radion show that covers most of the state and a little into texas panhandle. I wonder how useful the texas people find my information.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 8:13PM
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I like before and after shows.

1. Here is the trash, and it's trash because....

2. Here is the plan, or these are the plans to choose from.

3. This is the final plan.

4. Step by step renewal showing the "how to" of several aspects.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2003 at 2:40AM
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I also think that a follow up segment would be fun. Like a small spot where you go back to something covered in the past and "check in" so to speak. A "remember that dwarf peach tree we planted last fall? well today we're going back to prune out some problems that have developed."

And I also feel that things of horticultural significance can get ignored by mainstream media. Show off the local hot spots, showcase the Azaleas in such-n-such park or some outstanding fall foliage that rarely is this spectacular. May be hard to do considering the lead time with editing and sound but if the spot was small you might be able to insert it at the last minute. Or just use still photos while the credits are rolling.

Once you produce the show, how and where it gets distributed is out of your hands and there is nothing you can do about it. Martha gets nailed often for shows about plants that are out of season when the segment airs - thats the station managers fault not the production company.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2003 at 10:15AM
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I'm thinking about out local "garden guy" ... always pimping for amendments sold by the sponsor and showing plants that aren't really happy here. His landscapes are unimaginative, and his advice is often scientifically bogus (paramagnetic rock? HUH?)

1. "Road show" segments, where you visit local gardens, in a variety of styles, and let the owner/designer explain what's happening and why.

2. Garden Rescue, where you where you visit ailing local gardens and help diagnose the design or plants.

3. Segments about design and layout, not just how to keep something growing.

4. Newbie segments ... basic "how to" do something that is so simple you no longer think about it.

5. Top 10 (or 5) lists: climate-tolerant plants, ways to kill a plant, worst design mistakes, new introductions, etc. ... people like lists.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2003 at 10:21AM
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I don't have television so I can't really comment on whats airing out on the waves but if I did have television I would enjoy seeing a locally based show. It seems like it would be more relevent and engaging to the viewing public.

I've done some of those HGTV shows, Inparticular a show called " landscape smart" ( yeah yeah.. you should hear what my sister calls it when she sees me on it.. something like landscape stupid... but I digress )
It does take a long time to shoot those shows and quite a few people are involved in the set up ,story line, filming, editing and final cut.

But people who watch these shows love them.
And when ever one of the segments that I shot airs my email box has at least a dozen or so letters from viewers who want to know more about something that was not completely covered or they just want to say Hi and that they enjoyed the show.

I would like to see the real inner workings of what it truly takes to do a job from the design process all the way thru to the completion.

As an example there has been a discussion on the landscape design forum about how different landcape designers come onto a project during the planning stages.
Some people said that they can come up with a plan in a matter of a few hours while others take much longer and do much more detailed working drawings before a shovel is lifted.

It might be an educational show to inform and educate the public what is really entailed in creating a landscape plan.

Like why is it important to know the grade elevations and when is it not as critical to shoot a grade and create a drainage plan.

I think a lot of people are mystified by the whole process and a little bit of light shed on the inner workings of why certain steps are taken could be an enlightening and entertaining show.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2003 at 10:18PM
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pkock(z6 OH)

I like the HGTV garden guy, Paul James, even though he's sometimes a bit too goofy for my taste. If I were producing "Gardening For The Masses", I'd probably follow his lead in the format - simple, practical advice, including how to serve the edible portions of the garden. His info isn't always 100% accurate, but it'd work for most folks.

I like Victory Garden too, but much of it is too esoteric for the average gardener. They sometimes cover varieties that are difficult to find, and if you're not a serious aficionado of the unique cultivar, who cares? Since it's been "under new management", I don't think it's entirely accurate either, but I could be wrong.

What I would do, if I had my own show, would be to steer somewhere in between the two I mentioned. I'd ditch the "magazine" format of just briefly touching on regular topics in each show. Instead I'd devote a whole show to "all about perennials", or "all about tomatoes", etc, and do the subject justice in the allotted 30 minutes. My show wouldn't be "look at Mrs. X's garden, isn't it neat?" If I featured Mrs. X's garden, it'd be an in depth study of why it works and why the average Schmo should care.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2003 at 2:23AM
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Since you are doing small segments on a weekly basis, do you think it would be a good idea to talk to the station production manager about your show ideas and find out what it would take to put together a local show time wise and with cost approximations?

Perhaps then you could put together a show proposal and take it to the program director. Have you gotten any local response to your garden segments? People emailing questions, snail mailing questions, calling on the phone? Good viewer response is something you can bring to that P.D. Have you asked your radio listeners whether they would like such a show? Could be a statewide show if you think you could swing it.

If the P.D. understands that your show would be filling a viewer need, it would be any easier sell.

I too like the idea of local/statewide shows. There are enough national and regional ones. A well produced and reasonably lively local/statewide effort presented at the right time could hit the mark.

I don't have HGTV, or cable, satellite, don't know anything about their programming. What do they do that absolutely works? Show(s) that you love to watch, that make you sit in front of the tube? Anything you can adapt from shows like that could help you.

And whether you like it or not, marketing is important. You have to give that P.D. a reason to believe that what you have will sell. Money is the bottom line in tv. A nasty fact of life.

I would love to read that you have been successful. Best wishes.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2003 at 1:43PM
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margay(z5 MO)

I would like to see more done on perennial combinations that complement each other. Many gardening shows do front yard landscaping using many of the same plants over and over again. Money is no object and in 3-5 years the yard is going to be a jungle but looks good on TV for the finished camera shot. I am always looking for combinations that grow well together and for continuous bloom ideas.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2003 at 10:38AM
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1. I would like to see a regional weekly show begin each program during the growing season showing me the current insect problems in the area and how to treat them both organically and chemically. If there is a serious infestation then a major portion of the program should be devoted to the problem. Bugs and plant diseases are probably the number one question asked by gardeners. If I could reliably turn on my TV at a certain hour and know I would get a complete run down on these problems...I would be watching. This information should also be available on the station's web site.
2. Gardening is an intensely personal activity. It demands techniques that must be learned. Teach them carefully and throughly. If given the choice of 10 minutes of a camera panning Mrs. Smith's rose garden or learning how to propagate and graft a rose from an expert, I'll take the latter, thank you. Instruct me.
3. There are so many facets to gardening that one can never run out of ideas for program material. And GW certainly is the place to find ideas. It probably would be possible to devote a whole program to moles and voles. Ditto...gardening around mailboxes. Bunch of super ideas expressed above. Hope it works out for you.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2003 at 7:20PM
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