Too much trowel and error? These gardening shows could help.

Matt Dunham/AP/File
Monty Don, the lead presenter of British television show “Gardeners’ World,” waits to broadcast at the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Chelsea Flower Show in London on May 20, 2019.

As the weather warms up and the days stretch longer in the Northern Hemisphere, the call to being outside grows greater. Gardening is the perfect reason to stray away from your desk or procrastinate finishing those household chores. It doesn’t take much to call yourself a gardener – simply plant something in the earth or in a soil-filled pot, tend to it, and watch it grow. 

With a lot of time at home last year, many people either discovered the joys of plants for the first time or finally expanded their green thumb efforts. Maybe you have a new appreciation for growing your own food, or you enjoy planting native plants for pollinators, or maybe you have a few (or a few dozen) houseplants perched on a windowsill or lining your patio in containers. Now blooms a new season as those garden projects started in the quiet days of last year have taken root and grown.

When you finally come inside for the day, here are a few TV shows you can relax with and learn from as you dream up your next outdoor project. 

Why We Wrote This

As spring turns into summer, gardeners far and wide are delighting in the fruits of their labor. No dirt to dig in? These TV shows are an entertaining and relaxing substitute for the real thing.

Of birdsongs and gardens

Monty Don is the perennial host of the BBC’s long-running “Gardeners’ World” (TV-G). Available on BritBox and Acorn, the show, spanning 53 seasons, is a respite with its birdsongs and gentle narrative of growing gardens. Don’s tips are interspersed with garden visits – including to a young man in Cumbria, England, with an affinity for tropical plants – and videos from viewers, including an Oregon gardener who started seedlings outdoors in winter using old milk jugs.

“Martha Knows Best”

Martha Stewart invites viewers to her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York, on “Martha Knows Best” (TV-G). There’s a lot happening besides gardening, but you’ll pick up new ideas in between the tree planting, dog washing, and Stewart’s video calls with friends like rapper Snoop Dogg. She also surprise-calls fans looking for gardening advice and doesn’t hesitate to give her opinion on their home and garden hacks. Catch the show on HGTV and streaming platforms.

Jason Ashur/Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve/AP/File
Colorful flowers bloom at Thuya Garden in Northeast Harbor, Maine. Thuya’s collection includes plants from renowned landscape designer Beatrix Farrand, who created the nearby Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden. Her work is also featured in “Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes” on Amazon Prime Video.

Watch the masters at work

If you’re attracted to gardens on a grand scale, check out two fairly recent documentaries about Beatrix Farrand and Frank Cabot available on Amazon Prime Video. “Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes” (unrated) centers on the first American female landscape architect and early proponent of public parks. “The Gardener” (unrated) explores Cabot’s Les Quatre Vents private garden in Quebec cultivated over four decades. These artists inspire with their vision of plants as living sculptures or a floral symphony played across the seasons. Farrand and Cabot had the advantage of privilege, but they were also visionary engineers whose legacies are worthy of admiration. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.