Top Ten New Gardening Show Ideas

As many others have pointed out before me, there is a dearth of quality gardening programming in this country.  What a shame!  Here are some of my ideas to rectify the situation:

What Not to Plant.  Each week, a snarky pair of hosts selects a different homeowner who has no design sense whatsoever.  After forcing her to watch black and white videos of her hideous front garden, the hosts visit her home and tell her why all of her plant selections are god-awful.  Even if the homeowner protests (“But my grandmother planted those camellias!”) the merciless hosts whack each plant down one by one with a machete and toss them into a wheelbarrow.  But it’s all really funny because the hosts are super stylish and witty.

Gray’s BotanyAh, young love.  In this show, things get pretty steamy down at the County Extension Office.  Young, impossibly attractive horticulturists and plant pathologists breathlessly discuss soil test results and severe budget cuts ….does it get any sexier?

Kitchen Garden Nightmares.  The gardening world is waaaay too polite.  It’s not fair that cooking shows get bad-ass hosts like Gordon Ramsay and we get only meek, dewy-eyed creatures like P. Allen Smith (no offense!).  Kitchen Garden Nightmares would be an elimination-style reality show in which contestants compete to design, plant, and grow the most bountiful vegetable garden.  Elimination challenges would include who can make the best tomato cage out of old couch springs and who can concoct the most effective deer repellent using only bodily fluids.  But the real draw would be the ruggedly handsome but psychotically angry host, who would scream profanities at the contestants: “OH FOR F#@K’S SAKE!!  YOU DIDN’T PUT F#@KING INOCULANT ON THE F#@KING PEAS???  GET THE F#@K OUT OF HERE!”  When a contestant is eliminated the host would jab a pitchfork through a photo of his or her face.

Two and a Half Hens.  Sophisticated, twenty-something eco-couples argue over whether to use their urban chickens for eggs or meat.

Composting With the Stars.  Get an insider’s look at the kitchen scrap cans and compost heaps of the rich and famous.  Here’s a little teaser.  Gwyneth Paltrow : soybean hulls, peach pits, and organic carrot tops.  Jack Black: Frito crumbs.

So You Think You Can Cloud Prune.  D-List celebs compete to clip their hedges into whimsical shapes, as popularized by the likes of Piet Oudolf, Jacques Wirtz, and Thomas Rainer.  In the first episode Danny Bonaducci fashions a “sort of mashed potato blob” out of a yew bush.

24.  The sequel we’ve all been waiting for.  While Jack Bauer is out fighting terrorists and stuff, what is happening with his outdoor spaces all that time?  Featuring simultaneous, split-screen footage of his  lawn, shrubs, and flowerpots – all in real time.  (A slower-paced show for the older demographic.)

Curb Your Enthusiasm for Firepits.  In this show, three different landscape designers each present a design proposal to the same prospective client, who then selects his favorite.  The crazy catch: none of the designs may include a firepit.  Tune in to see if it can be done!

Pimp My Hive — Each week, an unsuspecting beekeeper is assaulted by a flash mob of designers who want to make his apiary more fabulous.

The Bulb Whisperer.  At a Montana ranch, a woman experiencing inner turmoil because her tulips won’t bloom seeks the help of a taciturn older gentleman: 

 “I hear you help people with bulb problems.”  

 “Truth is, I help bulbs with people problems.”

It’ll be really deep.


  1. Great blog Mary and glad to have found you!

  2. Oh my this is hysterical and SO good!! You had me laughing my head off with this. How did you come up with these!!

  3. I don’t watch much TV but would plop my butt on the couch for any of these, if only to laugh like a hyena for a half hour! The Cloud Pruning one would kill, since I’ve always felt modern suburban pruning concentrated on too many basic geometric forms and excluded the more exotic parallelograms and octagons. Very funny! LOVE IT!

  4. Mary, I am seriously ROTFLMAO! My younger daughter, who is the unacknowledged queen of media satire, will LOVE this! I’m sending it to her post haste.

    Thanks for an hysterical fit of laughter. My cheeks hurt (the ones on my face).

    • Thanks! Though, If it had been REALLY funny your butt-cheeks would hurt, too.

      • Younger Verner says:

        Unacknowledged Queen of Media here. I have actually been an unofficial contestant on Kitchen Garden Nightmares, where the ruggedly handsome Home Depot sales associate yelled at me for killing off my cilantro plant. “WHY DIDN’T YOU MIX ANY F#@CKING SAND IN YOUR F#@CKING SOIL?!”

        Now I just stick to f#@cking rosemary, which refuses to die, despite my multiple attempts.

      • Mary, My butt cheeks would have hurt, but they had been laughed off by that time. Thanks for a delicious post that even impressed the Younger Verner. Difficult to do, all right.

  5. Fantastic line-up! I’d watch this gardening channel any day!

  6. I think if I re-read this post a few more times, I can do it without one laugh. I can, I can!

  7. Mary, This post had me laughing out loud; any of these shows sound like improvements over the (lack of) garden fare currently available. I’ve just started reading your blog and have quickly become a fan. I do a monthly “Garden Blog of the Month” feature on my blog, Jean’s Garden, and your blog is one of two of highlighted this month. My post reviewing your blog just went up, and your blog will be featured on my sidebar throughout the month. Thanks for the great writing.

  8. BRAVO! [Um, not the TV network, Mary, but you.]
    So glad I have an RSS option for your blog otherwise I might miss out on all the fun.

  9. I might actually watch TV again!

  10. Funny. Can we add a show called “Plant Hoarders” and bring in psychologists to understand help gardeners who have overfilled their gardens with too many plants and have stashed all kinds of new plants behind the shrubs, waiting to find some place to plant them? Plus there’s the seed stash, the planting container stash….

    • “Plant Hoarders” is a great idea, Carol. I always have a problem figuring out what to do with all my plastic nursery pots…I know they can theoretically be recycled, but I’m always too lazy to do that so they are piled in an ugly stack in the corner of my yard. Thanks for visiting my blog! I’ve been reading yours for a long time!

  11. Confession: I have a secret desire to be the Stacy London (or perhaps the Trinny) of What Not To Plant…..Hacking down stupid ill advised plantings while ridiculing the nit-wits that planted them sounds like grand fun!

    • Your are braver than me, Rochelle. In my non-blogging life I am extremely non-confrontational. I’d love to watch somebody else do it, though! :o)

      By the way, I adore your website…it’s quite an inspiration!

  12. All very clever ideas, Mary!
    Perhaps you should script out one or two and approach a garden show.
    Or even better, produce them yourself through You Tube and start your own show!
    Being one of those ‘senior’ Gardeners who has already ‘been there and done that’, it has been my experience that commercial television is not very skilfull at translating such good ideas into educational/quality television. They are, however, very clever at stealing the ideas of others, calling them their own and then botching the final product.
    In the real world, those with a clever mind like yours will soon learn the merits of a determined and passionate “do-it-yourself” attitude.
    Good luck to you!!!
    If you want to learn more please visit: or and Face Book pages: Quarter Acre Paradise Gardens

  13. These are great! Although I hope I’d never be one of the unsuspecting homeowners on What Not to Plant! Now why can’t HGTV think of things like this?

  14. I think you’d better add Intervention for Zonal Denial and I Didn’t Know I Planted an Invasive!

  15. What a great post! Thank you for sharing this one, it really is creative & witty. I’d watch most of these shows.

  16. Absolutely Fabulous Petunias! A divorced woman has just finished her botany degree in London and is now a Landscape Designer for the Posh Urbanites of London. Enjoy her completely witless conversation and crazy capers with her best friend, a whiskey swilling Kew Garden board member whilst her incredibly smart and facetious daughter works on completing her Ph.D. in Plant Genetics.

  17. Kristi B. says:

    Mary, I didn’t realize you’d become famous….and rightly so; you are just as funny in writing as you are in real life (something not many people can pull off)! I was definitely NOT reading this at work today, and therefore did not laugh out loud at the Crape Myrtle holiday decor post, and thus– fortunately–did not have to explain my inappropriate actions to 25 teenagers. Thank goodness. I will be following!!

  18. The scary part is that I already have a perfect Hollywood pitch for any garden show I wanted to put together: “It’s The Red Green Show meets Doctor Who.” I only wish I were joking. (And then there’s the promo for the pilot episode: “The first rule of Garden Club is you do not talk about Garden Club. The second rule of Garden Club is you do not talk about Garden Club.”)

  19. I sort of don’t mind that there aren’t gardening shows on HGTV anymore. It used to irk me but the only ones I really liked were the ones where an amiable or amusing hostess goes and visits the established gardens of amazing gardeners (The Penelope Hobhouse one was my favorite but I also loved A Gardener’s Diary with Erica Glazner and another one whose name I am forgetting).

    The how to shows I can do without. And as fun as I think contest style reality shows can be to watch (all the various cooking shows, Project Runway, Face Off on Syfy, RuPaul’s Drag Race etc) a garden design show really wouldn’t work since a newly designed garden doesn’t generally look like much until it is at least a few months to a year old and sometimes longer.

    Generally I find the talking head type gardening personalities to be annoying.

    • I agree one hundred percent, actually. When I first started gardening, I watched ALL the shows obsessively, now I don’t watch any. They do get pretty repetitive. Gardener’s Diary is one that I would still watch, if it were on.

  20. You made me laugh and welcome to Blotanical

  21. This. Is. Priceless.

  22. Can I star in Kitchen Garden Nightmares? People say I’m mean, snarky, and demanding enugh to be Gordon Ramsey.

  23. Very funny. Wish I’d written this!

  24. Jan Simmons says:

    How about a show on church decorating, where contestents compete to try to stuff as many Christmas decorations in nooks and crannies, yet are able to create award winning bouquets of silk flowers with the leftovers? We just de-dcorated out church yesterday, and it was an experience!

  25. I’m still rolling – I am bookmarking this for sure. Luckily, you post the links on LinkedIn too, so I won’t miss any. What fun!

  26. Dear Mary, You are too funny! I would have posted a reply ages ago, but I’ve been too busy sharing this with family and friends. I wish I had your wit! P. x

  27. I loved this, thank you. You made me laugh out loud as well. I am SO glad I found your blog.
    Thomas Rainer’s cloud pruning was brave. Wonder what his neighbors were thinking!

    • Christine, it definitely was brave, God love him. I’d love to try the same thing with my chamaecyparis hedge, but I fear it wouldn’t grow back if I messed it up. And I’m quite sure I would mess it up.

  28. Truly hilarious! How about: you’re not a hoe if you use one. A show that follows the green rehabilitation of offenders. Not suitable for children….

  29. You are hilarious! Have you ever seen ~My drunk kitchen on You Tube, think you may have a future out in You Tube land…Pimp my kitchen was great! Thanks for the laughs! Sher

  30. You are hilarious! Have you ever seen~My jrunk kitchen? Think you have a future out there in You Tube Land…Pimp my bee hive, thanks for the laughs! Sher

  31. Ha, love the garden humor! So many gardeners take themselves too seriously. I think on my garden tube show I will add some bloopers and blunders.

  32. Mary, as a huge fan of Kitchen Nightmares, and host/producer of a nat’l gardening show, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in my chair, wine glass in hand, watching Gordon do what Gordon does, and asking myself that very question; “Why can’t I come up with a gardening version of that show?” But just about the time I actually start to see the possibilities, the show is over and I’m out of wine.

    I’ll keep watching and sipping and hope there’s a Kitchen Nightmare marathon in the works soon. Really enjoyed your post. Thanks for the laughs.

    • Joe, I, too, believe Gordon Ramsay is best enjoyed with an adult beverage. I’m really honored to have you visit my blog, by the way. I used to watch you all the time on Garden Smart, and now I have just discovered your podcast! I’m going to tell everybody at work tomorrow that I’ve got celebrities visiting my blog now!

  33. Mary – I commented about an hour ago, but I see it didn’t post. Hmmm. Well, if it shows up later, you can delete my duplicate. Ha!

    I just wanted to say that your post made me laugh out loud! As the co-producer of Growing A Greener World TV, we are always looking for new ways to spruce up the show. I think we need to incorporate a few of your ideas. It would definitely make the filming more interesting! LOL

  34. Mary: Great ,Fantastic. The producers of all Garden Shows should be made to read this post. HGTV could learn a lot from this.

    Have a Wonderful Evening,

  35. Hilarious! I laughed out loud at Jack Black’s Frito crumbs. (But what, no Apple cores in Gwyneth’s compost pile?)

  36. What a fabulously witty post! Good on you for your creativity and comedy brilliance. Clearly, you hit a nerve with all those comments! Happy that I found you via Theresa Loe. 🙂

  37. Wonderful blog I am enjoying your thoughts in words and now rolling on the floor as the Queen $#*! I am all for getting down and dirty in the Soil <|;-) Looking forward to your next post!

  38. Great post. This one along with the “annoying garden catchphrases of 2012” is great satire and a breath of fresh air. Thanks.

  39. Oh my gosh, I haven’t laughed so much about gardening in a while! I think my favorites are What Not To Plant and So You Think You Can Cloud Prune. Hilarious.

  40. mikeinportc says:

    :)))) Lol!
    I’ve done What Not To Plant , in my head, many times . Managed not to let it leak to the outside, though..

    Kitchen Garden Nightmares .? :))))))) How about Dennis Leary?

  41. Is there going to be a show about garden hoes in rehab? Because if there is, I’ve got about 50 hoes… so that’s 50 episodes…

  42. Thank you for making me laugh out loud. You have obviously struck a chord with many of us. The situation on UK TV is just as bad. I too was an avid viewer of any gardening programme that came onto our screens, but the quality has been so dire that I no longer look to the TV for enlightenment. Love your witty style of writing and thanks for the introduction to “My Drunk kitchen”. Look forward to reading your other posts.

  43. Wow! Just think if you were an exec with HGTV someone might still be watching… funny stuff again… if you continue you “out-do” yourself with each clever post won’t you soon go mad from trying to “out-do” yourself? I will continue to enjoy your post until that day arrives. Until then I will dream of the Container Gardening smack down, Lohans vs Kardashians…

  44. What an excellent post! Absolutely love the humor and wit!

  45. For the leftover plastic pots, you can place them on their sides, pile them up, add a bit of dirt on top and make berms out of them. Works for me. Here’s a gardening tip: Water your tomatoes with Viagra and you won’t have to stake them.

  46. Great idea Mary, you cannot imagine how mutch ugly gardens there are here in Hamburg. Every day i see so many gardens that are impossible. Ugly, old, and dead. It is very difficult to change the people here. But i keep on trying…….. Your ideas would help a lot here and it would take years to change all.


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