Amateur Gardening’s garden experts have turned into television critics to scrutinise 2012’s offerings on the box. But do you agree with our writers’ personal opinions?


The Flowerpot Gang

BBC1, August to September 
Joe Swift, Anneka Rice and Phil Tufnell
Reviewed by:
AG gardening editor Kris Collins: verdict – 2.5 / 5

Television viewers have been crying out for a new makeover show since the demise of Ground Force. The Flowerpot Gang on prime-time BBC1 saw Joe Swift, Anneka Rice and ex-cricketer Phil Tufnell transform open spaces for good causes.

I loved:
Programmes highlighted the health and social benefits of gardening and gardens – bringing the issue to a wide audience

It had the potential to inspire people to take up gardening

I didn’t like:
There was no real practical gardening content to be  picked up by the viewer – a real missed opportunity

The presenters’ attempts at humour were hit and miss.

I classed this show as ‘entertainment’ rather than gardening, but it still had the potential to encourage new gardeners to dig in.


Bees, Butterflies and Blooms

BBC2 8-22 February 
Sarah Raven
Reviewed by:
AG editor Tim Rumball – verdict: 4/5

Sarah Raven went on a mission to reverse a decline in bees, butterflies and pollinating insects by inspiring gardeners to grow wild flowers and insect-friendly plants in their own plots.

I loved:
Well-structured programmes taking us through what pollinators are, and what they do; the flowers they need to feed on; individuals, communities and groups that are planting to help pollinators

Sarah Raven delivers straight-forward information in a no-nonsense way

I didn’t like:
The programme was founded on a slightly dubious premise. Many of our most important crops (cereal crops, potatoes, maize etc) are wind-pollinated

Sarah appeared to believe that the nation breakfasts on five different varieties of fruit. Personally, I doubt it

This programme was a TV gardening highlight of the year. Bold, well filmed and convincingly delivered. All gardeners could learn from it.


Gardeners’ World

BBC2, March to November 
Monty Don, with Carol Klein and Joe Swift
Reviewed by:
AG news editor Marc Rosenberg. Verdict: 3.5/5

BBC2’s flagship gardening show moved to Monty Don’s Herefordshire garden, Longmeadow, this year. The series has returned to its back-to-basics, practical gardening format.

I loved:
Monty Don is far more relaxed now he’s gardening at home. There’s plenty of practical gardening advice on offer (as long as you’re an organic gardener)

Monty’s four-legged co-presenter, Nigel, is rather good, too. But on a serious note, I’m glad the BBC has dropped the false and irritating banter between presenters

I didn’t like:
Carol Klein is a hugely-knowledgeable plantswoman but her over-enthusiastic, air-punching style of delivery is not to everyone’s taste

Longmeadow is too grand for some garden owners to identify with. Sorry, but for me, Gardeners’ World still lacks its ‘must-watch’ appeal of the Geoff Hamilton and Alan Titchmarsh eras

If this was a school report it would read: a steady year’s progress but could do better!


Love Your Garden series 2

ITV 26 June – 31 July 
Alan Titchmarsh
Reviewed by:
AG letters editor Jenny Bagshaw. Verdict: 3/5

A new format for 2012, which saw programmes extended from half an hour to a full hour. Alan Titchmarsh and his team carried out makeovers for people who’d fallen on hard times as a result of tragedies or health issues.

I loved:
Each programme offered plenty of ideas for large and small spaces, tailored to suit the owners’ circumstances. It had a wide appeal

Alan understood the problems faced by the garden owners and was able to create meaningful, personal gardens.

I didn’t like:
While makeovers transformed spaces for worthy recipients, it had overtones of car crash TV, that had been designed to wring the heart-strings

Not enough information was supplied about the plants used and garden features installed to satisfy an audience of true practical gardeners

Enjoyable, but more of a ‘soap’ production than I expected. Just like The Flowerpot Gang, Love Your Garden was trying too hard to entertain, rather than delivering garden tips.


BBC coverage of RHS flower shows

BBC1 and BBC2 
BBC garden stars
Reviewed by:
AG gardening writer Michelle Wheeler. Verdict: 3/5

BBC coverage of major RHS flower shows including Malvern, Chelsea, Gardeners’ World Live, Hampton Court and Tatton Park.

I loved:

Well presented and informative, with tips on how we can adapt designs and flowers into our gardens

Chelsea broadcasts were split between daytime and evening coverage, so we all had a chance to watch

I didn’t like:
Joe Swift was notably absent from presenting at Chelsea. I missed his enthusiasm and plant knowledge

There was too much focus on Chelsea Flower Show. I would like to see other flower shows given more airtime

Verdict: Slick, informative BBC coverage of Chelsea Flower Show. Alan Titchmarsh delivers live TV with authority and style.


Do you agree with our writers’ verdicts? Have your say below. PLEASE NOTE: all comments are moderated prior to publication, and there will be a delay over the Christmas and New Year break before comments appear live on the AG website


  • Valeria

    My Dad had open heart surgery in May so he didn’t have a garedn which left it up to Rambob and I to have one if I wanted to do any canning this year. Our 10’x10 garedn ended up being 40’x40′. We ended up with: 22 tomato, 25 white potato, 25 red potato, 20 sweet potato, 4 zuchinni,4 squash, 4 canteloupe, 30 onions and 4 cabbages…not coutning the 50 strawberry plants we planted tfor next year. I think we may have gotten in over our heads, ahah

  • Allan picton,

    Your writers verdicts are weak, Are they afraid to say what they think? In case they upset the ballerinas in the mentioned programs,There is NO ONE catering for the normal allotment gardener,And the people with limited incomes and modest gardens,If Alan Titchmarsh was given a program and given the instructions, (Show people how to grow vegetables) I am sure he would make a good job of it, These makeover programs are not for proper gardeners, They are only put on for the armchair gardeners,There should be programs about,Raised beds, polytunnels and how to get the best out of a small greenhouse,,,The best program i can remember is The Victorian kitchen Garden, Harry certainly knew his stuff and wasn’t pretentious with it,