'Victory Garden' gives viewers tips so gardens at home can bloom

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2002

SOUTHBORO, Mass. (AP) -- On a country road, tucked away behind a white picket fence, Michael Weishan is hard at work cultivating inspiration in his back yard.

Once a week, the host of ''The Victory Garden'' takes television viewers behind the fence and into his garden to provide hands-on tips on how to have blooming flowers and thriving vegetables.

The show, which has aired on public television for 27 seasons, recently broadcast its final episode of the year. It will continue to air reruns throughout the cold and frozen winter until April, when the new season begins.

''The Victory Garden'' is filmed on Weishan's property in Southboro, just west of Boston, and showcases his three-acre back yard and some rooms of the quaint 1852 farmhouse.

The flower garden is filled with coleus, pink and blue impatiens and roses. A vegetable garden has neatly planted rows of leeks, peppers, eggplant, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, asparagus and broccoli.

But producers have also visited the antiques fair in Brimfield, scouting for garden treasures like decorative pots. Next season, they plan to explore Vancouver, Quebec and British Columbia.


A bed of Boston lettuce grow in a garden at the location of the WGBH television program "The Victory Garden," in Southboro, Mass., Oct. 4, 2002. Once a week, the host of "The Victory Garden" takes television viewers behind the fence and into his garden to provide hands-on tips on how to have blooming flowers and thriving vegetables.

AP Photo/Mike Mergen

Weishan, who took over as host when Roger Swain retired, wrapped up his first season in the job.

With Swain, the show focused on gardens of the world. But its direction changed in the past year, with a greater focus on gardening at home.

City dwellers can find encouragement to get busy gardening in a limited space.

''We want to show people you can make mistakes and still have glorious results. Our motto is roll up your sleeves and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty,'' producer Laurie Donnelly said.

Viewers learn how to seed and mow, how to cut a shrub or trim a hedge, how to make floral bouquets, how to build a country wall or trellis if you have only a weekend to finish the job.

''Gardening doesn't have to be intimidating. If it dies, throw it away, start all over again,'' Weishan says. ''It's fun, it's a hobby, don't take it so seriously.''

For organizations like the New England Wildfower Society, ''The Victory Garden'' is important for helping the novice gardener practice techniques that are ecologically sound.

''(Those techniques) reshape the way Americans think about their own natural spaces and their own back yards so that our suburban areas are not just a wasteland,'' said Debra Strick, the society's marketing and public relations director.

''I think there's a feeling more of participation in our own individual back yards and how it affects the wildlife around us,'' she said.


On the Net:

WGBH Victory Garden: http://www.victorygarden.org

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