Watch Someone Else Do It

HGTV Stars – Where are They Now?

I learned to garden lo these many years ago from two sources – good magazines and good shows on HGTV, back when it had them.

(Gardeners love to complain about the missing G from the channel and this year that’s truer than ever, judging from their new shows and episodes where house-hunting and lifestyle porn abound and gardening has gone missing altogether. But that’s enough complaining for this post, except to add that it’s not a problem just with gardening, as one blogger explains in “HGTV – Bring Back the Decorating Shows.” )

About the HGTV stars who taught us to garden, I recently came across the site Home Sweet HGTV, where the unnamed author (I hate that!) lists some long-gone gardening shows and got me wondering what their hosts are doing today.

Gardening by the Yard with Paul James

Following Paul’s progress in his own Oklahoma garden probably taught me more about creating and maintaining my own garden than any other source. The show ran from 1996 to 2009 and since then, according to Wiki, Paul has “shied from the spotlight in recent years, shutting down his website and neglecting his Facebook page.” He has made public appearances in recent years as spokesman for American Public Gardens Day.

Paul can be found these days at Southwood Garden Center in Tulsa, for whom he blogs and does the occasional video, like this one about succulents.

Fourteen episodes of Gardening by the Yard are available for viewing here on the HGTV site.

Rebecca’s Garden

I also learned a lot from Rebecca Kolls, who now owns a farm store in the Twin Cities, according to this article in a local newspaper. I’ve found just six episodes of her old show online – on the Land of Flora YouTube channel, where I also found Monty Don’s “Around  the World in 80 Gardens.”

A Gardener’s Diary with Erica Glasener

I loved this show for the tours of interesting gardens and often even more interesting gardeners who created them, like Pearl Fryer, the now-famous topiary gardener in rural South Carolina. According to Erica’s website, she’s still dispensing horticultural wisdom through writing and speaking.

A Gardener’s Journal with Kathy Renwald

The only information I could find about Kathy’s life today is her blog about art, but her old shows are now available on the paid subscription show HortusTV. She was interviewed about the move in this story and had this to say about the demise of gardening on HGTV:

Most gardening shows disappeared from TV in 2002. My two long-running programs on HGTV — “Calling All Gardeners” and “Gardener’s Journal” — were both cancelled along with anything with a plant or a pot in it.

“Reality TV is here and it’s here to stay,” an HGTV executive told me.

There’s more from Kathy about the change and her move to HortusTV in this video.

PBS’s Victory Garden

Though Victory Garden wasn’t an HGTV production, let’s catch up with host Roger Swaim anyway. From his home in Southern New Hampshire, he’s apparently still dispensing wisdom. In that story he’s asked if he still teaches and laughingly replies, “On street corners, picnic tables.”

And I love this from the Cape Cod Times story:

“When asked what you should do in the garden, I say, ‘Use nature as a model,’” said Swain, who has a doctorate in ecology.

And all these years I assumed he was an agronomist.

Posted by on September 7, 2017 at 3:49 pm, in the category Watch Someone Else Do It.
8 Comments

8 responses to “HGTV Stars – Where are They Now?”

  1. Susan says:

    Oh, thanks for this, Susan! I too was an avid HGTV watcher back when they had all these wonderful shows, and have often wondered where the principals ended up. It’s nearly impossible to find a good gardening show now – anywhere. Unfortunately, it seems that the TV exec was right. Reality television is the thing now, and probably always will be. Sigh…..

  2. Dave says:

    Paul James was a huge influence of mine as well. Never missed an episode – had the old vcr set to record – I’m starting to feel dated now!

  3. Jeff Minnich says:

    I loved, and miss very much, A Gardener’s Diary. I watched that show every morning, first thing, while I rode my stationary bike–it helped motivate me! Needless to say, my stationary bike riding began to suffer when HgTV (yes, the little “g” is there, for emphasis) cancelled the show! . Now, I follow Erica on Facebook, and she still dispenses some good advice.

  4. Helen B. says:

    I remember seeing Matt James’s City Gardener series. He really set me straight on how to deal with small spaces. Very inspiring.

  5. Hugh says:

    No one has ever surpassed 70s era Jim Crockett on PBS’s Crockett’s Victory Garden.

  6. Linus says:

    P. Allen Smith on PBS started with gardening, but has transitioned to life-style (raising chickens, travelogues, cooking).

    Seems like the best places for info now are podcast: A Way to Garden (Margaret Roach), and You Bet Your Garden (Mike McGrath).

    Well, not HGTV, I found it ironic that “Yard Crashers” of DIY replaced Ahmed Hassan with a caucasian when there’s a lot of criticism of the lack of diversity on home improvement type shows. Sigh…

  7. JustGail says:

    I miss the gardening shows as well, not just HGTV, but also PBS. For many years, my Saturday’s late afternoons were Victory Garden, Sewing with Nancy, and Bob Ross while I took a well deserved break after a day of working outside and cleaning the house. The sewing shows are still on so far, but Victory Garden lost me when they went to touring big fancy gardens all over the world 🙁

    Susan – thanks for the link to the garden videos.

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