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Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Radio host blasts TV garden shows
Charlie Dimmock
Robson called Charlie Dimmock 'a nice chap'
It is pitchforks at dawn in a row between TV gardeners and radio's authority on horticulture, Eric Robson.

The Gardeners' Question Time host has accused TV makeover shows like Ground Force of "giving gardening a bad name".

Writing in a Lake District gardens brochure, he said creations from TV gardeners Monty Don and Charlie Dimmock would be hard to live with.

But former Ground Force presenter Alan Titchmarsh has said there is no place for snobbery in gardening.

Mr Robson, 57, who is also chairman of the Cumbria Tourist Board, asked: "How many more makeover gardening programmes can we stand?"

Could you really live with the results of most of their ideas?
Eric Robson
He described BBC1's Ground Force presenter Miss Dimmock and BBC2's Gardeners' World host Mr Don as "awfully nice chaps".

But, writing in The Gardens, Parks and Wildlife of Cumbria, he questioned whether people could live with the results of their ideas.

"A bit of Zen here; a bit of suburban Humphrey Repton there; Gertrude Jekyll, Capability Brown and Andy Warhol thrown in for instant effect," he mused.

"The people who make those wall-to-wall programmes are pleasant, talented, generous with their advice and sincerely trying to introduce us to new ideas.

Alan Titchmarsh
Robson questioned whether people could live with some of the results
"But, and it's a very big but, what doesn't come easily to them is an acceptance of the real tradition of gardening that lives and breathes here in the Lake District."

He said he knew he was biting the hand of broadcasting that feeds him.

But he compared TV gardeners with traditional Lake District designers who knew how "scale texture and detail against a backdrop of mountains can touch the soul".

Mr Titchmarsh defended the programmes, saying gardens created in Ground Force were well-loved by their owners.

"You can't be snobbish about gardening," he said. "There is nothing wrong with trying to get people interested by different means.

You can't be snobbish about gardening
Alan Titchmarsh
"You can retain your professional integrity and show people how to do interesting things.

"What we do can't be expensive and 99% of the people we design for think that the end result is brilliant."

A spokesman told News Online the BBC did not program its output for only one type of gardening viewer.

"We have a range of extremely talented gardeners who present a fantastic breadth of knowledge and experience," he said.

"Even on Gardeners' Question Time the team do not always agree."

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