When it comes to rural programmes, Channel 5 is doing pretty well at the moment.
It’s scored big successes with the likes of Our Yorkshire Farm, The Yorkshire Vet and Summer on the Farm. So it seemed only right that it would eventually launch a gardening show – after all, what are horticultural havens if not our own tiny patches of wilderness?
But who should the broadcaster get to front it? Seeing as it had already enjoyed hits with its Yorkshire-based shows, the obvious choice was another northerner. However, rather than turning to Alan Titchmarsh, the county’s most famous green-fingered expert, it decided to hop over the Pennines to pluck Carol Klein instead.
She was born in Walkden, which is now part of he City of Salford, but at the time of her birth in 1945, was classed as being in Lancashire.
At school, she loved art and biology, but left when told she couldn’t study both. Her father also prevented her from attending art school, so Klein ended up selling buttons and stockings at a Manchester department store – clearly a TV career was about as far removed from her mind at that point as is humanly possible.
She eventually became an art teacher, working in London before moving to Devon, which she still calls home. But eventually, she decided to give it all up to follow her passion for gardening by setting up her own nursery. Her love of the activity had been inspired by her mother and her grandfather, who had an allotment.
In the years since, Klein has enjoyed success at numerous Royal Horticultural Shows, including the Chelsea Flower Show, where her exhibits have won several gold medals; she’s also penned various books and newspaper columns.
In 1989, she made her first appearance on Gardeners’ World and has rarely been off our screens since. She became a permanent presenter on the show in 2005, but has also popped up in the Great British Garden Revival, Grow Your Own Veg and Life in a Cottage Garden. Then, last year, Channel 5 launched Great British Gardens, in which Klein journeys across the country, visiting a different amazing plot every week.
The format clearly went down a treat with viewers, because last week, the second run began.
The first episode of the eight-part series focused on Arundel Castle Gardens in West Sussex, but this time, the presenter is off to Coton Manor in Northamptonshire. Its owner, Susie Pasley-Tyler, knew little about running such a place – or even gardening in general – when she and her husband inherited it following the death of his mother in 1990.
Susie had to find her feet fast – with 10 acres of land and a 17th-century manor to organise, there was certainly no time for worrying or procrastination. She should be proud of what she’s achieved too.
Klein is suitably impressed as she learns how creative and dramatic planting schemes keep the place looking as pretty as a picture all year round.
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