Thursday, July 15, 2010

Who Is Looking Dumber?

The new President of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Elizabeth Banks has apparently accused the BBC of dumbing down gardening.  The article in The Sunday Times has been very quickly rebutted by both the RHS themselves and also the BBC.

My take for what it’s worth is that I think the BBC do a great job, and make gardening accessible to all.  Their programming needs to appeal to a wide range of audiences and I think it does this.  The new presidents opinions were it seems, particularly focussed on the BBC2 show Gardeners World and also its coverage of the Royal Chelsea Flower Show.  Unfortunately she has apparently failed to take on board the fact that the BBCs coverage of gardening is more than one show on BBC2.  It does in fact range across media from both television, and radio (& podcasts), to printed formats and of course the web.  In doing so it caters for a number of different audiences but also a number of different levels of knowledge and skill when it comes to the amateur gardener.  I think depending on your relative skill, knowledge, need and perhaps ambition, this gives the majority something, that is pitched at their level and with other areas to dip into depending on a particular need at the time.  I have picked up hints and tips from all of the various sources provided by the BBC; I have also found more in depth information when I’ve needed it as well as inspiration making me try something fantastic from scratch.

Sure I can understand the new president’s comments in isolation of perhaps one source, but she needs to open her eyes and understand the complexity of what is on offer.  Unfortunately I don’t think she has done herself, her company, the RHS or the BBC any favours.  Worse I think she may well have put some potential gardeners off by her comments.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and the BBC does this well, however reading her comments as a novice gardener you might be forgiven for thinking that gardening is a preserve of an elite, and not something that anyone can have a go at, whether it is from a humble houseplant to a window box, through to a small postage stamp of dirt, to an allotment or onwards to acres of estate.  Wherever you start you might find ultimately that gardening is perhaps not for you, or you might just like me start out with a small plot in my parents garden trying to grow veg at five years old, onwards to a Small Suburban Garden and allotment with dreams of a large estate, open to the public (lottery win pending)!

Don’t get me wrong, not everything on the BBC is for me, but I dip into most things that they have to offer, and some I follow more than others.  Yes over time the various formats change and evolve, and in some eyes not always for the best.  This is however part of evolution, what works continues, what doesn’t dies out.  Regardless of what you might think about Gardeners World on BBC2 (I enjoy it, but it isn’t necessarily a particular favourite since the more recent change in main presenter), there are other things on offer from the BBC.  If something isn’t for you, then I don’t think you should be using your position of power to change it, when it might be working for others.  I question what Elizabeth Banks has used as the basis for her assertions, one program or the range?  Her comments have certainly made me consider the RHS in a different light, but I won’t be judging the organisation as a whole on the basis of comments from one person.

Posted via email from Small Suburban Garden

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