ATV's Television Garden

By Roddy Buxton

In addition to output from the main studio complex in the centre of Birmingham, ATV opened the ‘Television Garden' at Kings Heath Park in Birmingham in August 1972 as a joint venture between Birmingham City Council and ATV.

The programme Gardening Today was originally conceived to show viewers how to design and maintain their gardens - from a simple window box to perhaps something more substantial.

By the early 1980s, Gardening Today was fully networked and had made household names of gardeners Bob Price and Cyril Fletcher in its regular Sunday lunchtime slot, also repeated at lunchtime on the following Thursday.

By 1985, Central Television had decided that the potential of the garden was fully exhausted to make any further programmes on the 1/3 acre site and the area was increased to its present size.

In 1989, Bob Price passed away and so new presenters Howard Drury and Geoff Amoss were introduced- along with this came a makeover for the show and a new title Garden Time and now only shown on a weekday lunchtime.

The development of the garden was rapid with the assistance of companies such as Bradstone, Blooms of Bressingham and Stapely Water Gardens constructing very large and impressive displays.

By 1995, Central Television or perhaps by now Carlton dropped the programme from its schedules and pulled out of Kings Heath after 23 years. It is assumed this was part of Carlton's plans to streamline Central when it was moved to a new much smaller studio base just over 18 months later.

After the departure of Central in 1995, the School of Horticulture formed a partnership with Pershore College, a nationally recognised Horticultural College and also Bournville College. Students from both colleges regularly used the gardens as a training ground.

In 1996, Gardener's World moved to into Kings Heath Park. Over the years they have developed many new gardens with top designers like John Brookes, Robin Williams, Dan Pearson and Bonita Bolitis, producing a variety of different and impressive designs.

More recently show gardens designed for Gardener's World Live by Chris Beardshaw and Rachel de Thame have been reconstructed by Pershore students in the garden for public viewing. The most recent was constructed as a Ground Force project over 2 days during the Gardeners' Weekend Show 2003.

Today the Television Gardens are opened for special events such as the Kings Heath Carnival and Gardeners' Weekend.

There is also an open afternoon once a month organised by Friends of Kings Heath Park. The gardens are open from 1.30pm - 4.30pm on these days.

For more on the Television Garden visit this Birmingham City Council page

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Article ©2007 Roddy Buxton

Compilation ©2007 Transdiffusion Broadcasting System

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