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This article is from Garden Living magazine, Spring 2004. It features a very steep garden in Dartmouth, Devon, which was redesigned by garden designer, Mary Reynolds, as part of the third and final series of Small Town Gardens. The series was presented by James Alexander Sinclair. I was the series producer, and really enjoyed making this series. Paul Vanezis was the producer/director of this episode.
The garden was incredibly steep, and difficult to access, and it proved a real challenge to get the materials in and out. I remember that there was some friction between the contributors and the garden makeover team – which led to some interesting times on and off screen! It was a beautiful, and very natural looking garden when finished.
Copryright resides with the original holders, no reproduction without permission.
This article appeared in the Garden Design Journal in February 2005, and considers the question of whether television gardening has trivialised garden design. Bella D’Arcy argues ‘yes’, I argue ‘no’, and Matt James sits on the fence, with a ‘maybe’.
There was a spate of garden design related programmes in the late 1990s and early 2000s, led by Ground Force and HomeFront in the Garden. I was lucky enough to be the series producer of two series of Small Town Gardens, a design show which was a delight to work on!
Photos by Vanessa Jackson, no reproduction without permission.
There were three series of the garden design show, ‘Small Town Gardens’. The first was made in London, the show then transferred to Birmingham, with me series producing the second and third series at Pebble Mill 2002 -3. I was delighted to be asked to make the show by Owen Gay. The London series was presented by Rachel de Thame, Joe Swift presented the second series and James Alexander Sinclair (shown in these photos) presented the third. Mark Scott and Paul Vanezis were the producer/directors, Sarah Wilkin and Emily Rusted researched on it, with Sarah Costigan and Jo Gray the production co-ordinators. Martin Dowell and Ant Smith were the editors. There were eight episodes in the second series and six in the third. The series were transmitted on BBC 2 on Friday nights before ‘Gardeners’ World’.
The idea of the series was to show how small town gardens could be transformed into creative, innovative spaces. We teamed up well known garden designers with contributors, they went on inspiration and shopping trips to discover what they wanted for their gardens.
It was a brilliant series to make – a lovely production team, great experts, presenters and contributors (well with a couple of exceptions), wonderful locations and a decent budget! And we knew we were lucky at the time.
The photos shown here are from a shoot in Kennington, London, series 3. The garden was a converted farrier’s workshop, with a tiny courtyard garden. The contributors were great, and I seem to remember that when the garden was finished they held a party, and rather the worse for wear tried to bathe in the water feature! The couple shown in the photo are the garden designers, not the contributors!
James always wore his trade mark hat, in fact he had about seven different ones, in various states – some tatty ones reserved for gardening. I think we were lucky enough to have the use of his second best hat! We used to have to check for ‘hat hair’, if we were filming inside and he took his hat off, as his hair would get all squashed and have to be sorted!