Monday, March 3, 2008

My Garden Hero

One of my garden heroes is the late Geoff Hamilton who taught me most of what I know about gardening. Geoff presented Gardener's World on the BBC for many years and was one of the first gardeners who promoted organic gardening.He made you feel that organic gardening was really the only option if you loved your planet and wanted what was best for it and all its inhabitants and he made it sound very logical and fun too. I'll never forget his remarkable enthusiasm and passion for all things garden related; even when he was explaining how to sow seeds or take cuttings for the umpteenth time he would still be enthusiastic. No minor feat that.
Through the years I bought many of his books, which are all very practical, filled to the brim with good advice and down to earth. Geoff had great ideas about how to make things for your garden that wouldn't cost the earth.
Here he explains how to make 2 compost bins and this is what I'm using in my kitchen garden today.
They do their job very nicely, so thanks very much Geoff!
In 1990 Geoff presented a series of programmes called The Ornamental Kitchen Garden which I loved to bits. The mixing of flowers, veggies, fruit and herbs was such an eye-opener for me and I couldn't wait to create a garden like that for myself. Fortunately I was able to create an ornamental kitchen garden aka potager although I had to wait 15 years before I was able to fulfill my ornamental kitchen garden dream. But it was worth the wait!
In 1996 Geoff was working on another successful series; Paradise Gardens and once again I bought the accompanying book. I'm glad I did as it turned out to be his last one.
Unfortunately shortly before his 60th birthday, Geoff died. It was quite unexpected and came as a great shock to many. I felt that I had lost a close personal friend even though I'd never met Geoff in person.
After Geoff Alan Titchmarsh became the head presenter of Gardener's World and nice chap he undoubtedly is, he was no Geoff. I still remember clearly that sinking feeling I got when I watched Alan used some toxic stuff in his garden. I felt that Geoff and everything he stood for had truly died then. I didn't watch GW much after that until a couple of years ago when, while I was zapping, I unexpectedly caught a glimpse of GW and some chap with dark curly hair. Montagu Don had become the new presenter and after watching a few episodes it became clear to me that all was right once again with my Gardener's World as Montagu is another very enthusiastic and passionate gardener and mad keen about gardening organically. What a relief!
On the right Montagu Don who, and I have it on good authority, looks good in a vase. :-D

copyright 2008 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Low maintenance gardening is for those not really interested. Christopher Lloyd


nikkipolani said...

A wonderful tribute to Mr. Hamilton and his legacy, which includes your lovely potager!

Brimstone said...

Ik heb heel lang zwart/wit TV gehad, terwijl bijna iedereen al kleur had. De mijne deed het nog goed en vervangen vond ik onzin, tot ik Gardner's World en Geoff ontdekte, voor dit programma ging ik overstag.

Helaas kan ik nu op de sateliet (buitengebied) geen BBC ontvangen.

Mooi log voor een echt inspirerende man!

stadtgarten said...

Seeing the result of your beautiful garden here in your blog it seems that you have had a very good "teacher"!
Groetjes, Monika

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You were lucky to have Geoff while you had him. I hope Montague can live up to Geoff's standards and you can enjoy the gardening program again.

Liz said...

Montague also did a brilliant program for the BBC called 'Around the World in 80 Gardens' - if you can find it, you will probably enjoy it as much as I did :o)

Annie in Austin said...

I like having a little window into the making of Yolanda the Gardener - and also like the glimpses you've given of Geoff Hamilton. The books sound great.

The Christopher Lloyd quote is quite true as far as my garden goes.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Kerri said...

He sounds like my kind of gardener..down to earth.
It's sad that he died so young.
Looks like you found some excellent teaching in those books. I like the compost bins..neat and practical.

Connie said...

I checked my library system to see if they had 'Ornamental Kitchen Garden' as that is my garden style, but no luck. :-(

Rosehaven Cottage said...

What a smart looking compost bin! I'm so impressed!

And your potager is so lovely. I am trying to achieve a potager in our back garden. It's taking a LONG time but slowly it is getting there. Hopefully, mine will look as wonderful as yours someday.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Ewa said...

Hi Yolanda, Thank you for introducing Geoff to us :) I never heard of him before, however I know Alan - maybe because I got interested with gardening when Alan was BBC gardening star - I like him, I didn't see him using toxic stuff - I will pay attention to that.

Lis said...

Leider ist mein Englisch nicht so gut dass ich Bücher in dieser Sprache lesen kann. Und im TV schaue ich mir dann nur Sendungen an die ich verstehe. Ich mache ja nun schon seit zwei Jahren einen Englischkurs, aber es wird mir wohl immer eine fremde Sprache bleiben. Ich bin schon froh wenn ich das wichtigste lesen, schreiben und sprechen kann.
LG Lis

marl1 said...

'The one and only' Geoff- zijn boek is hier de tuinbijbel en wat was hij inspirerend met zijn enthousiasme....! Na zijn programma's moest ik de aanvechting onderdrukken om meteen in de tuin te gaan wroeten...;-) Monty vind ik meer een moestuin man....heb ook nog heimwee naar Bob Flowerdew met zijn kleden...:-)))))))

Naturegirl said...

Yolanda lovely tribute to one passionate keeper of the earth..I shall take a peak at his books on your recommendation! Thanks!
I am sending you some warmth all the way from my sunny world of sunshine green grass wonderful flower blossoms here in Arizona! hugs NG

Green thumb said...

People like Geoff Hamilton are immortalised in thoughts through their noble deeds. Although I've been unfortunate not to have known him but am filled with gratitude for his espousal of organic gardening; a subject which is dear to me too.
Montagu Don appears to be a charming personality; I'll have to check out, whether BBC features GW in India.

Entangled said...

I had a similar garden hero many years ago - Jim Crockett. He was the original host of The Victory Garden, a public television show here in the US. He wasn't opposed to the use of commercial pesticides and fertilizers, but this was in the 1970s and things were very different then. He died far too young as well and I never could warm up to any of The Victory Garden shows after he was gone.

I'll look for some of Geoff Hamilton's books - they sound wonderful.

happy said...

hi there,
gardening sounds interesting.. i'd have to learn a lot about it first,though.

Frances, said...

Yolanda, that was a heart felt story about a great man. We will look for his books here. Your potager is the most lovely thing ever, and your compost bin is causing great envy here. I love your last line about Montagu looking good in a vase! ;-> I have seen the Around the world in 80 gardens show and liked it and him. Hope you are feeling well.

Frances at Faire Garden

Marian said...

Ach, Geoff, die mis ik nog steeds, Monty geen onaardige man, maar voor mij heeft ie het niet, dan zag ik toch liever Alan Titchmarsh, maarja smaken verschillen en dat is maar goed ook, anders werd het eentonig in de wereld!
Dat was handig van mij hè om het draadje (het is maar een dunnertje) door te knippen, ik dacht dat zoiets alleen voor mannen weggelegd was (die van mij presteerde het om een knaloranje verlengkabel door te knippen, blinde) maar nee, ook mij is het overkomen, grrr!
Het kattenbeeldje staat op de plek waar drie van onze katten begraven liggen, die ga ik binnenkort maar weer opgraven, want die laat ik hier niet achter, dit heb ik al vaker gedaan, sommige mensen vinden dat vreemd, ik niet!
Zaterdag schijnt een aardige dag te worden ( na een regenachtige vrijdag) dus weer even lekker de tuin in.
groetjes, Marian

guild-rez said...

Yolanda, just checked our online Toronto Library and found the following book:
Geoff Hamilton's paradise gardens : creating and planting a secluded garden. --
Are you familiar with this book??
The other books you showed on your blog, I could not locate.
Thank you for comment on my blog..the biggest snowstorm of the season is still to come.
I'll get plenty of exercise with my snow shovel.
cheers Gisela
Noticed the google advertisement about Canada Blooms in Toronto on your blog.
Watch for pictures about the show on March 13, 2008
Just purchased my ticket online.

Layanee said...

YE: I will have to look for those books! You have done him proud!

Flighty said...

Geoff Hamilton was very much a down to earth gardener who was well liked and regarded by the public. Monty Don is very much in the same mould.
As for Alan Titchmarsh...well I for one have never got on with him!
Take care and happy gardening!

lintys said...

How wonderful to have had such an inspiring teacher. Your potager and this post are lovely tributes to him! Linda

Katarina i Kullavik said...

The world of blogging is just great - you get a comment on your blog from someone - and you discover that this person has a really great blog... Thanks for visiting - I'm so glad I found your blog! Your post about the Netherlands was great as is this recent post about mr Hamilton and organic gardening.
Yhanks for sharing - I'll certainly be back!
Katarina at Roses and stuff


I just recently--last week--discoverd Geoff Hamilton! We'd decided to build a cloche to get our seeds started a little earlier this year. Internet research led me to a wonderful little video clip of Geoff Hamilton explainig, step by step, how to build a cloche. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a message Yolanda!

Hanneles paradis said...

we have compost too

lenie said...

ik heb er ook een paar boeken van
mooi hé !!!!
ben dus druk aan het filosoferen wat nu weer met de tuin te doen , hou er ook graag vogels op na en ben dáár weer druk mee bezig ....wil ook véél te veel ;))
een fijn weekend met een béétje tuinweer ;)))

jodi said...

Here's where the Atlantic ocean sometimes really divides us, Yolanda--until recently I hadn't heard of Geoff Hamilton, because he's not in our magazines, nor on any shows here that I know of. But what I've read of him here, and elsewhere, tells me I would have liked him a lot too! So thank you for doing this, and I'm glad you found a new gardening mentor of sorts.

OldRoses said...

Hmmm . . . I'll have to read some of those books. They look really good.

There's a kitty funeral going on my blog. The Bliss Team is invited to pay their respects if they wish.

Kylee said...

Thank goodness for our mentors, eh?

Matron said...

Yes! you've brought back many happy memories from watching GW. I was devastated when I heard the sad news, no one could ever fill his boots. He was ahead of his time when everyone now wears the 'organic badge' he was doing it years ago. I am now very happy with Monty - because he loves his veggies. He is also what the girls call ... telly-welly-totty...

lisa said...

Nice tribute and story, Yolanda! I'm all for the organic way, and good thing the new guy at the helm has put everthing back into perspective. "...I have it on good authority looks good in a vase." I bet he'd look good in a gunny sack! ;-)

Barbara said...

I remember very well Geoff an ardent BBC Gardener's World "watcher"....However, I didn't know that he wrote so many interesting books. Do you know Monty Don's book too?

Jalos said...

Geoff Hamilton, helaas voor mijn tijd...dat wil zeggen dat ik de serie toen nog niet keek of kon zien.
Wel heb ik een aantal boeken gelezen en later via internet de video's van paradise gardens en cottage gardens de series gekocht en dat was zo genieten!
Wat een passie had die man en zo vriendelijk.
Alan Titchmarsh vind ik ook leuk, al heb ik hem niet gezien als presentator van GW maar wel als host van A year in the garden en gardens revisited, wat ik erg leuk vond.
Wat ik nu erg jammer vind in GW is dat het steeds meer alleen om het moestuinieren lijkt te draaien, nu weet ik dat Monty daar nogal gek op is maar ik vind het erg jammer omdat dat nu eenmaal niet zo mijn interesse heeft.
De nederlandse tuinprogramma's kunnen echter lang niet tippen aan de engelse al vind ik de tuintuimers wel weer leuk.

Carol said...

I sure wish we could see BBC's Gardener's World across the pond over here. Our "gardening" shows are sadly lacking. But thank you for introducing us to Geoff Hamilton, now I must look up some of his books.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Chiara said...

Geoff Hamilton was also my garden hero, thank you for the beautiful post.

By the way, it is now possible to buy the DVD containing the thrre series by Geoff: the ornamental kitchen garden, the paradise garden and the cottage garden. It is called The Geoff Hamilton BBC Collection (40th Anniversary Gardeners World DVD Box Set)available at I bought it a month ago and I really enjoed watching it.

Thank you for the inspiration, your ornamental kitchen garden is really BEAUTIFUL.

I put your blog on my blogroll.

Chiara at EcoHappy

Chiara at

Libbys Blog said...

I totally agree about Geoff Hamilton, I to have quite a few of his books. Alan didn't do it for me either and although initially I was enthused by Monty, I have gone off him and rarely watch nowadays. Its a shame we don't have more gardening programmes to choose from.