Hewson On ... Gardeners' World proves its value to the retail sector

So what are we to make of the new hour-long format for Gardeners' World?

I am not sure whether it is long-term but I actually quite like it, having often found the usual half-hour slot frustratingly short - and Friday night still works perfectly well, showcasing as it does plants and gardens of seasonal interest, so (hopefully) guiding viewers to their nearest garden centre come the weekend.

Let us not underestimate the commercial value of Gardeners' World to the garden retail sector - and so in turn to the wider nursery trade. Good-looking plants featured on a Friday evening are often snapped up come Saturday and Sunday, providing, of course, that they are in plentiful supply.

By way of illustration, during a recent visit to the National Trust's Nunnington Hall here in deepest Yorkshire I was welcomed with a bright and breezy display of the splendid Kniphofia 'Mango Popsicle', about which Monty Don had waxed rather lyrically a week or two earlier on an episode of Gardeners' World. Not especially cheap at £9.95 a go, but I couldn't resist.

Now there it is, beaming rather proudly from its favoured sunny but sheltered spot in our new border. It looks fabulous and unlike other kniphofia delivers a plentiful supply of repeat flower spikes. Okay, given its stunning flower colour - a rich shade of mango indeed - I would probably have splashed out anyway, but seeing it on Gardeners' World perhaps gave me a gentle nudge in the direction of the cash desk.

More recently, the splendid autumn colour of Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' was featured - and so will, I expect, be similarly pursued. How often does the industry receive an audience of around two million people a week, and how cool is that?

Maybe it should be a two-hour slot, and the capable Adam Frost with his cheery persona is surely a shoo-in to anchor future series once Monty calls it a day. This said, Monty's calm and gently reassuring presence is, I believe, better now than it has ever been, so long may he continue - and I love the dogs.

One word of caution though, let's not crowd the hour with too much content. It's great to have some new faces and youthful fresh blood too, but Gardeners' World is at it's best when presented as a gentle stroll rather than manic sprint. After all, gardening and growing are as much about the process as they are the end result, if not more so.

Andrew Hewson is a freelance writer and columnist

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