Welcome to Great British Garden Revival, a new BBC2 series that aims to do for gardens what The Great British Bake-Off did for cakes. Is there any domestic activity that can’t be improved be the addition of the magic words “Great” and “British”? “The Great British Take the Bins Out?” “The Great British Pull the Hair Out of the Plughole?” “The Great British Cat Turd Clean-up?” I like the sound of them all, but perhaps I’ve been brainwashed by the super-human enthusiasm of GBGR’s presenting team.
Fourteen gardening experts will contribute to the show over the course of its 10-episode run, but Monty Don kicked things off with an impassioned plea to save our wildflower meadows. If you’re a regular reader of Michael McCarthy’s Nature Studies column in this paper, you’ll already be aware of the threat facing this country’s meadowland. Much of it was given over to farming during the Second World War and it’s now estimated that only two per cent survives. That’s a shame. Not only insofar as it limits opportunities for whimsical skipping, but because meadows are a unique habitat for thousands of wildlife species.
Monty Don might know all the names of the flowers, but if you think this marks him out as a “hullo clouds, hullo trees” sort of weed, you’re wrong. In fact, his revolutionary fervour re meadowland threatened to turn violent at any moment. “Grass is a thug,” he announced during last night’s demonstration on how to turn a lawn into a wildflower meadow. “Cut it till it’s suffering and then when it’s on its knees, that’s the time to give it a good kicking.”
In the show’s second half, Joe Swift had a mission of his own. He wanted everyone to stop converting their front gardens into soulless parking spaces. Some sad piano music played and a heavy-hearted Joe detailed the misery of a paved-over gardens: not only do they offer no protection from flash floods or road pollution, they will also make all your neighbours hate you. Joe perked up when he saw the lovely gardening efforts of the residents of Rockcliffe Avenue in North Tyneside, however. It all starts with a few bulbs and, before you know it, everybody loves each other and world peace has been achieved. Such is the power of community gardening.