One or twice every month, Netflix adds a bunch of new things to its streaming service. Like a high tide leaving behind assorted rocks and shells, what remains must be picked through. It’s hard to find the really good stuff. This month, the good stuff consists of British gardening shows.
To see these, you would think Britain is one giant garden, and every resident spends each waking moment, or ‘mo’, in their private outdoor space.
Love Your Garden is the first of these, hosted by the charming horticultural expert Alan Titchmarsh. In each episode, he finds a deserving family who needs a garden, and with his team of landscaping and plant specialists, simply builds it for them. These families have had some recent tragedy or health issue which prevents them from making it themselves. So Alan and his crew ‘get stuck in’ or sometimes ‘get cracking’ to get the job done.
I enjoy seeing the team planning the new garden and then learning how it all comes out. Turning chaos into even more chaos, until magically, finally, order is restored. The family gets to see the new garden, somebody pops a champagne cork, family and friends pour in. Very sentimental; I think my dad would have liked this show.
The other show, taking a different tack entirely, is Big Dreams, Small Spaces. Hosted by the unusually named Monty Don, the format sets up this self-taught gardener as a consultant and helper to those who want to do it for themselves.
Monty will typically show up in April, demand to see the owner’s plans, turn the details upside down and sideways, then leaves them to it, checking in every few months. The fun is seeing the twists and turns the self-gardeners undergo as their paper plan becomes a hard-won reality by August.
These episodes typically end with a party – more champagne, cake, tea, crumpets; the lot.
I almost prefer this construct because it’s more fun to watch amateurs doing something new and enjoying the fruits (and flowers) of their hard work, than seeing fast-working professionals doing it. Not to say that things don’t go wrong in both shows.
These have definitely added to my storehouse of British slang. When someone is really pleased with a freshly planted flower bed, they are ‘chuffed’. Putting a treasured item in a central spot gives it ‘pride of place’. Hiring a large machine to put the topper on a kids’ treehouse is ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut’.
A sledgehammer? Sounds ‘brilliant’ to me.