An Alameda Garden: Where Is Our Bob Flowerdew?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Where Is Our Bob Flowerdew?

Today's Washington Post has a great article on Britain's Bob Flowerdew, organic gardener, author, and star on the BBC's radio show, "Gardeners' Question Time." He sounds like the real thing, and in a nation that still takes gardening seriously, that must truly be saying something.

So it got me to wondering: where is our Bob Flowerdew? Does NPR even have a gardening show? If they do, I've never heard of it. If they did, I might finally start listening to NPR. (None of my friends can understand why I don't listen to NPR, since the fact that I'm a frequent viewer of PBS and a news junkie in general would seem to make me an ideal NPR devotee. The reason I don't listen? Those monotone, droning voices! Those NPR parodies that Saturday Night Live did a few years back were just a bit too spot on.)

But getting back to Bob Flowerdew ... I think the reason we don't have a Bob Flowerdew here in the U.S. (and no, as much as I like Paul James, I don't think he has nearly the kind of celebrity status or industry following that it sounds like Flowerdew has) is that Flowerdew has something in the U.K. that nobody in the USA has--a significant audience. According to the Post, "Gardeners' Question Time" has an audience of 2 million in a country of 60 million. To translate that kind of audience to the U.S. (with a population of 299 million), a gardening guru would have to have an audience of 10 million. According to USA Today, that would be equal to the audience of last week's #2 top-rated broadcast TV show (god help us), "So You Think You Can Dance."

There's been a lot of talk in the garden blogs of late, particularly at Garden Rant, that gardening is really a much more popular pastime in the U.S. than is commonly believed. Well, bless them for the thought, but I am doubtful, at least about how things currently stand. There are some hopeful signs, however. People are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of pesticides and the growing demand for organic produce is bound to drive some people into their gardens. But I still see the time crunch that most Americans live with and the ridiculous prices for homes and land in urban/suburban areas to be the main factors that keep most people from gardening.

Is it possible, though, that if there was an American Flowerdew--someone knowledgeable, funny, charismatic, and (it goes without saying) organic--that he could be the pied piper to seduce more of us into taking up the shovel and rake? That he (or she, of course) could actually grow the audience?

Well, maybe. But that's really one of those "chicken or egg" questions, and hen blogging is beyond my purview.


  1. There IS an NPR gardening show, but I don't know who carries it--neither of my local stations do. And it comes out of the East coast, so it may not help you much at all. But it's called You Bet Your Garden (or something equally cheesy) and the host is a former editor at Organic Gardening.

    The Renegade Gardener, out of Minnesota, is supposed to have a one-hour radio show on one of his local stations, too. It's NOT a call-in format, but I haven't been able to access it via the radio station's stream for some reason.

  2. There are a couple of gardening shows you can download to an IPod or listen to online, but none of them grabbed my attention and made me bookmark the web site and go back for more.

    We definitely need someone who would make you set your alarm to be sure you didn't miss him (or her)!

  3. Great post! It got me to thinking and even inspired me to do a post of my own on Mr. Flowerdew. I will post it on my blog. Thanks for letting us know about him.

  4. Hey Claire, lovely thoughtful post and i have linked you again.Even though i dont know what you sound like!Your daily musings inspire me so keep on writing.I generally read blogs more often than watch TV or listen to the radio.I work a lot of shifts so im often at work when the programs are on.Hope you like my link to you, it is complementary...

    This is a good start for informative gardening in a very easy manner.Also you can search the BBC radio website for Gardeners question time and Bob Flowerdew.
    Not strictly about your PBR but might interest some of you.

  6. Claire,
    A very thoughtful post. My thoughts are that we have Bob Flowerdews in every region of the country. They are on those weekend morning call in shows on AM stations all over the country. They know their region and their climate and their listeners rely on them to make decisions all the time.
    It may be that because of our size and climate variety we may never have a national guru the way the Brits do.
    BTW this is my first visit and I am enjoying your blog very much.

  7. Re; Bob Flowerdew (what great name!)
    'But I still see the time crunch that most Americans live with and the ridiculous prices for homes and land in urban/suburban areas to be the main factors that keep most people from gardening.'

    Claire, Maybe be the time-crunch is worse over there, I doubt if land and property is anything like as tight (or expensive) as it is here in urbun and suburban areas - many of us still live in 12 ft wide 2up/2down terraces, whose gardens may be long or short, but only 12 ft wide! And cheapest near london would be $500,000, yes, for 12' wide house!

    It's the tradition of at least growing runner beans here if nothing else, that might have kept the veg garden going, the love of a nice lawn (now being replaced by paved fronts for carparking, creating massive problems with drainage) but perhaps more than anything, the allotment plot (10 poles for £10/annum) has had a resurgence of popularity - once the domain of the working-class man, or retiree, now a very middle-class activity offering fresh-air, exercise, a family occasion and of course, the opportunity to grow good tasting 'real' vegetables with dirt on them. This has boosted Bob's popularity, as many won't use chemicals on their allotments anymore, whilst it used to be the Victorian gardener's divine right!

    Rgds from England

  8. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...