I Want My . . . I Want My GTV!

A David Austin rose

My apologies to Dire Straits.

“G” may be for Garden, but apparently HGTV hasn’t learned its ABCs.

A disturbing trend of Home and Garden Television is its continued emphasis on the home; selling/buying or remodeling (as if any of that truly spoke of “home”) at the expense of any garden themed programming.

And, no, Curb Appeal doesn’t count.

If I want to see something garden related, I’m now limited to Gardener’s Diary reruns and the yard remodeling show, Desperate Landscapes, actually shown on HGTV’s sister station DIY.

On Thursday mornings, at 6:00 a.m., I sit under the covers clutching my tea mug and waiting for my one televised garden visit of the week.  Lucky for me I missed most of the original shows, so it’s all new to me.  I’ve been introduced to some lovely gardens and gardeners, but at some point, HGTV you have to make new programs.  If the lovely Erica Glasener has moved on, find another host.   Also, put the darn show on later in the day.  Not everyone gets up with the chickens.

Desperate Landscapes is really just a home improvement show disguised as a landscaping show, but I love watching Jason Cameron help those hoe-ly inept folks transform their outdoor spaces.  I especially like learning about which plants perform well throughout the country.  By the way, this show needs new programs too.  I’ve seen them all.  We all have.

Butterfly on ‘May Night’ Salvia

There’s also Weekend Gardening, but the format and host, Maureen Gilmer, seriously give me the willies.  I want to yank the laptop out her hand, give her a shovel and make her dig instead of her hired help.

There you have it.  That’s about all there is to the “G” in HGTV (and two are on DIY.)

Gardening is hot and dirty work sometimes.  When are the media experts going to pull themselves up by their boot straps and start telling the truth?  Viewers and Readers know it, and they’re still gardening.  Look at the explosion of gardening blogs on Blotanical.  In fact, gardening is still one of the most popular hobbies in the United States.  Just ask my friend, Mary Ann.  She found all the statistics today.

Even if Jason shows up and renews your landscape, someone must still maintain what’s planted, and that’s where true gardening comes in.

Hasn’t anyone at HGTV heard that more and more Americans are growing their own food in their own vegetable gardens?  Doesn’t the network brass get that those newbie gardeners might like some assistance?  There’s more to home life than what color of paint to put on the walls.

In fact, HGTV could learn something from a local show produced, filmed and hosted here in central Oklahoma.  Oklahoma Gardening has been a part of my Saturday mornings on OETA, the local PBS affiliate, for the past 33 years, and the show just gets better and better.  Filmed at the Extension Gardens at Oklahoma State University, this accurate, information based show is intelligent, timely and suited for its Oklahoma audience.  Also, new shows are prepared every year to be shown during the gardening season.  Re-runs are limited to the wintertime where they should stay.

So that’s my rant for the day.  HGTV, are you listening?


  1. Lillian Wujek says:

    Yes, yes yes, it should be called the Real Estate Channel. I do love seeing things transformed, but I miss the great gardening shows that are a thing of the past.

  2. Dee,

    I just linked to your post on a new entry I posted. I just got a converter box to be ready for the digital signal transition and I get a station I never have before. It is called Create Tv (another PBS channel) and they have gardening shows. Have you seen it?

    MBT, thanks for the linkage love. I appreciate it. I’ve never seen Create TV. I know Shirley from Gardener’s Eden is starting to work on a internet television network. How interesting.~~Dee

  3. Joe Lamp'l says:

    Hi Dee. I’ve been meaning to post for quite some time. I sat in on your blogging talk at GWA this year in Portland. Very nice job and I knew I wanted to check RDR out! I like it.

    Now to the point of this comment. I know this all may be old news by now but your post on “I want my GTV” got my attention. I’ve been writing about this topic lately too. Perhaps I may be able to offer another perspective and one you and your readers might find of interest. As the host of DIY Network’s Fresh from the Garden, and current host of PBS’s GardenSMART, I stay plugged into what’s going on in garden TV land. It’s interesting that HGTV, DIY, etc. don’t even have any gardening shows on their radar anymore according to a friend and the exec. producer of Ground Breakers, and four other shows on (or formerly on) HGTV / DIY. I know most of the other hosts mentioned in this post and replies and we’re all shaking our heads at the lack of quality gardening content on TV anymore. In fact, several years ago, when HGTV cancelled production of A Gardener’s Diary with Erica, she mounted an email campaign to try and get it back on the air. HGTV finally responded…barely. They gave her a 6:am time slot once I week I think. And that was short lived!

    If you want to read my post on the topic, it’s a recent entry on my blog (post title: The future of gardening; dead or alive) and one I recently addressed on Rant.
    Here’s an excerpt of what I said:

    Is gardening dead? No, but you’d never know that by trying to find a gardening show on television. Or, even trying to read up on a few gardening columns in your local paper. Many newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal had a dedicated, weekly section for “Home and Garden”, now relegated to just a few pages within another section.

    Unfortunately, many of the television networks, i.e. HGTV and DIY, have all but dropped gardening for two reasons. According to an HGTV exec-producer friend of mine, “gardening” isn’t on any network’s radar anymore. Landscaping maybe, but only if it’s a makeover show. Please not another one of those! The young network execs, don’t relate to “gardening” and their advertising-driven clients don’t see us as a lucrative target audience for their product.

    Similarly, those same big money advertisers don’t seem to want television hosts over 30 hosting “their” shows since the viewers they want to attract are late teens to mid 20’s; sadly, a group not yet viewed as a target demographic for gardening, too busy to do it themselves and who doesn’t identify with “more mature” experts.

    When I was picked to host Fresh from the Garden on DIY Network, they were looking for a “Real”gardener between 35 and 45. Perfect, and it made sense. Now, 25 is pushing the upper limits! Just ask former “mature” TV Gardening hosts Joe Washington, Erica Glasener, Rebecca Kolls and most recently, Paul James. Not only did I learn a lot by watching these and other shows, they made me want to garden. Sadly, we have less of those opportunities than ever. And Allan, even the show you were a part of on PBS, was too short-lived and the one I host, constantly struggles with funding support. Advertisers we’ve relied on for years aren’t putting the money towards gardening.

    So, maybe my perspective is a bit different, but I’m out there as much as anybody and I can tell you, although gardening is not a four letter word, we are having to work harder than ever to convince people of that. As avid gardeners, educators, and communicators, I believe we all need to cast a spotlight on the “importance of gardening”. We already know what it does for us mentally and physically, but done properly, it helps the environment, promotes nutrition and health, teaches our children, unites strangers and nurtures our souls”.

    Again, if you care to read the entire post, it’s a recent entry. Thanks Dee.

    Joe Lamp’l

    Joe Lamp’l´s last blog post..The Future of Gardening; Dead or Alive?

    Hi Joe,

    Yes, I remember you well. I attended your panel about the future of blogginging and websites. I enjoyed looking at all of the movement on your blog. I agree with much of what you’ve written here. I believe we are all in a state of transition from television to computer, and I don’t think HGTV cares a lick about its garden viewers. However, it is being shortsighted. Those 20 somethings will tire of remodeling their homes and will then look outdoors at their landscape. HGTV should keep that in mind and not just recycle their shows. Landscaping and gardening companies, in Oklahoma, seem to be doing very well.~~Dee

  4. Martha says:

    So, HGTV is missing a large audience of gardeners. At least 25 of us here.

    Which gardening shows are you all watching and recording? I TiVo three a week and am looking for more. They make great couch potato watching.

    What do you like? What channel, day and time are they on in your area?

    Martha´s last blog post..Not This Week, But Winter Is Coming

    Martha, I’m fond of Gardener’s Diary, Rebecca’s Garden (although it’s not a fav), Desperate Landscapes, and Oklahoma Gardening. The last one is on PBS, and DL is on DIY. As to times, most of them are on at 6:00 a.m.~~Dee

  5. Deb says:

    It’s unlikely that HGTV is going to listen to viewer demand for a return of real gardening programming. After all, it canceled its only quilting program, SIMPLY QUILTS, despite the fact that in 2006, $3.3 billion was spent in the US alone on quilting materials. HGTV seems increasingly narrow in focus and out of touch with its audience.

  6. Dave says:

    I’ve thought the same thing many times. Paul James has been a must see for me for years now and they’ve moved him to the early times during the morning. HGTV is all home design and decorating so I really don’t watch it much anymore. I’d like to see a GNTV (Garden and Nature TV) I think a lot of people would be interested! The two are very closely related in my opinion!

    Daves last blog post..The Difference a Few Months Makes in the Garden

  7. Dee,

    I was just thinking the same thing the other day! I miss all the garden shows HGTV used to have on. I hope they listen to you and all of us who agree!

    Sherri McDermitts last blog post..2 Really Good Pictures of the Girls with their Men!!

  8. wiseacre says:

    Who needs HGTV when real gardeners are blogging?

    wiseacres last blog post..Gray Tree Frog

  9. CurtissAnn says:

    Honey, I have said the exact same thing to the only one to hear me– hubby– for years! I barely watch HGTV anymore, and come to think of it now, it is because I’m sick to death of those organizing shows where a professional goes in and does all the work for the person, and just nothing about gardening. I used to love this one landscaping show that they had out of Atlanta mostly on Saturdays. Don’t know where it went.

    Thanks for saying this, and so eloquently.

    CurtissAnns last blog post..Center or Not to Center Giveaway

  10. Mary says:

    I am SO glad I discovered your blog. I love your writing and I love that you are also an Okie. I wish we had more regional and local gardening shows because our weather and soil here are so different. I’ve gardened in CA and IA and had to change my ways when we moved back to OK. I think the reason that the national shows have been abandoned is because so many people want a “quick fix” for everything and they can get that in decorating. Not so with gardening. As you said, even if someone does your landscaping, you have to keep it alive. Much more challenging than just appreciating the new wallpaper! Keep up the great posts!

    Marys last blog post..More Beauty and a little health…

  11. Carla says:

    DITTO! Could you send this on to the ‘powers that be’?

    Carlas last blog post..Remembering 9/11 today

  12. Cinj says:

    Don’t get your hopes up that they’ll listen or actually care (don’t ask), but it’s nice openly talking about these issues anyway. So many of the good shows are on reruns anyway I swear I could almost recite the entire episode of happenings after the first 5 minutes of the show.

  13. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Yep, they just can’t get enough advertisers for the garden shows since as MrMcD pointed out we like it green. HTV should not
    post the G until they come through with more G.

  14. Anna says:

    I ran out of breath complaining about it some time ago. I use to frequent the gardening message board but a troll ruined that. So many people have complained and they have done nothing. HTV claims that decorating and home improvements are where the money is.

    Did ya’ll know that Shirley Bovshow @ Edenmakers’ is starting her own TV show. Right now, she’s showcasing garden centers. She’s been a long time hgtv participant and she is the host of Garden Police on Discovery. So she knows what she’s doing. I’m anxious to see where she goes with her new Edenmaker TV. She’s going to make another website for it soon. Maybe she’ll be our hope.

    Annas last blog post..The Captain Cameron House, Wilmington, NC

  15. Oh, dear, I’d better change my post – I thought “A Gardener’s Diary” was on at 8 Central, not 6. That shows how long it’s been since I’ve watched anything on HGTV. You’ve made some excellent points Dee. You’d think there would be advertisers wanting to reach all those new backyard veggie gardeners, but maybe we’re too green & into living a more simple life that we don’t buy as much as those who want to redecorate their houses each season.

  16. Cara says:

    Usually I’m just a lurker (albeit a dedicated one), but I had to add my 2 cents. Definately agree with all that’s already been said about HGTV. One of the shows I do watch during the summer is TLC’s (Oklahoma City) Sat. morning program. Nothing more than a business touting what it’s selling. I love it. I get to see new plants that I can actually purchase and grow–for my zone!!, not Seattle or California–and a little bit of landscaping thrown in too. The show has got to be making them money (customers) or why else would they keep taping? So when HGTV brings up ‘no money (advertising) in gardening shows’ I have to take exception to that. I don’t mind if there is some self interest going on. Oklahoma Gardening is of course excellent and I loved loved loved the Manic Organic (was on the Learning Channel I think, and I guess is gone for good). Whew…..see what happens when a lurker turns into a commenter?

  17. MA says:

    You got it BABE! there is no G in HGTV!

  18. PGL says:

    Great post today Dee! Kudos on using your own version of Dire Straits “I want my MTV”. This got my attention, maybe someone out in HGTV land will see it too. I would love to see more gardening shows again. Use to be my other addiction. 🙂

  19. Les says:

    I agree totally, and Garden Diary is also a favorite. In fact I skipped the gym this morning awaiting it (broken VCR). I also like the grandaddy of garden shows, The Victory Garden, especially with the new format and host. PBS also airs Cultivating Life, Garden Story and P. Allen Smith. I usually miss these as they air at times I am not inclined to watch TV, but enjoy them when I can.

    Less last blog post..Thank You Hanna!

    Les, I can’t ever find Garden Diary on the program list. If you know when it’s showing, I am so there. I do love Victory Garden. I think our PBS station has it.~~Dee

  20. joco says:

    It’s the same over here: a desert at the minute. Not one decent gardening programme left. Nothing but lovies that want to get their face up close, totally blocking what you want to see.

    If I see Rachel ‘Detain’ (I wish) stick her nose one more time in a group of flowers and sniff, I will throw up.

    And then…my absolute pet-hate: a deafening beat in the back ground, so you have to use subtitles to hear what they are saying. Gross.

    I vote for Carol on British Television. Fancy a spell over here? Probably not with all that rain.

    jocos last blog post..Time for a treat

    Yes, the Brits have had more than their share of rain. I love the British gardening shows though because they have such wonderful information. Not all of it applies here, but that’s okay. Your writing about the “Lovies” made me laugh.~~Dee

  21. Element says:

    I would have to agree about HGTV. It was a good garden themed channel a few years ago. Here in my area we get Gardening By the Yard w/ Master Gardener Paul James. He is from OK. But there are no other true gardening shows that I know of.

    The only shows that come close to gardening, besides the one I mentioned above are Landscaper’s Challenge, Curb Appeal and Ground Breakers. Now these shows are not really gardening but more about Landscape Design. Most of the time they have some good ideas.

    As for the home improvement shows, we do watch a lot of them as well. We will be purchasing a house soon and the tips are important to us.

    Elements last blog post..How To Build A Propagation Station

    I think the home remodeling shows are fine, but I’m tired of the real estate show and think a few could be replaced with garden material. Real garden shows and less landscaping.~~Dee

  22. Heavy Petal says:

    Spot on, Dee. HGTV costs extra from my cable provider – and it’s not worth the money, in my book. My favourite gardening show is Recreating Eden. Have you seen that one?

    Heavy Petals last blog post..Most awesome plant label ever

    No, HP, I haven’t seen Recreating Eden, but I love the title alone. Maybe I’ll see if it is on Netflix.~~Dee

  23. Great minds must think alike. Canyon Wren Cottage (http://hillcountryheaven.blogspot.com/) had a similiar post earlier in the week! We all pretty much agreed it was mostly HTV, they’d lost the G! Everyone seems to like the first generation of hosts, and we all miss the gardening shows. I hardly watch it at all, and I used to have it on all day!
    Maybe we should each write to HGTV and voice our complaints!

    nola, of the alamo norths last blog post..Bio Circuit Blogging Event

    Hey Nola, thanks for the link to another Hill Country blog. A group of us decided to post about the missing G in HGTV, but I don’t remember is Canyon Wren was one of them.~~Dee

  24. vanillalotus says:

    Here here! I agree with all that was said. I have never watched any of the garden shows on HGTV as I do not wake up early and if I do I am rushing to get ready to go to work. I need to look into my local cable channel and see if there is a local garden show like yours. I wonder if HGTV will here us or what they will say. Maybe one of us will get a response on our blogs from someone over there.

    vanillalotuss last blog post..Home but not Garden Television

    Yes, I had students in mind when I wrote that part. I remember rushing off to classes too barely awake. I get up early now because I have a husband who goes to work early and kids to get off to school.~~Dee

  25. Katie says:

    I hate HGTV. They used to tease me with a couple decent gardening shows, but they were on at like 4 in the morning.

    I love my local PBS station because there is far more gardening going on there than on the network with Garden in its name!

    Katies last blog post..And the winner is…

    Hi Katie, I think our PBS station also has Victory Garden, but that’s about all we get here. I do wish they would also have more garden programming.~~Dee

  26. I hope they are listening! We definitely have a big gap when it comes to good quality gardening programs for real gardeners.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardenss last blog post..Guilty of Using "Garden" with no Evidence of Gardening

    Since a bunch of us wrote about it, and then Garden Rant made it known, perhaps, but I’m not holding my breath.~~Dee

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