Television's new found enthusiasm for gardening has created a star out of bra-less Charlie Dimmock and is about to make an expert out of pop singer Kim Wilde, so it was perhaps inevitable that the horticulturists would begin the backlash.
Ms Dimmock's success in Ground Force and the hiring by ITV of Ms Wilde to front a rival show are the subject of a stern rebuke from a leading horticulturalist, Stefan Buczacki in the Royal Horticultural Society's journal, The Garden. Dismissing the TV gardeners as all teeth and no green fingers, Dr. Buczacki's article dismisses gardening programmes as 'entertainment' and bemoans the lack of knowledge among the media's experts. A defender of the non-celebrity garden, Dr Buczacki even quit his role as chairman of Radio 4's relatively serious Gardeners' Question Time when the programme became 'too showbizzy'.
'On gardening pages, in gardening magazines and on television gardening programmes, I am frequently confronted by folk who are full of enthusiasm and good teeth, but remarkably deficient in experience and horticulture', he writes. 'At least Ground Force is presented by professionally qualified horticulturalists', he concedes.
He reserves his praise for Geoff Hamilton as the only TV gardener who 'would be doing his gardening whether or not the cameras were present'.
ITV yesterday defended the hiring of the 1980s pop star Kim Wilde to present Better Gardens, a series planned to rival Ground Force. Ms Wilde was apparently the star pupil at a horticultural college near her homewhile taking a garden design course two years ago. The Royal Horticultural Society stuck up for Ms Dimmock, pointing out that she has 'fantastic horticultural knowledge'.