TV Shows and Gardening: Do They Mix?
I am a self-proclaimed TV nerd. You will find me reading reviews, listening to commentary tracks on DVDs, and trying to discover any other hidden nuggets about my favorite shows. However, full credit goes to Garden Rant for my inspiration in this post. A guest ranter posted about Downton Abbey and the lack of gardens on the show. Gardening, both to add to the aesthetics of the building and the food on the table would have been paramount in that time period. However, as Layanee DeMerchant notes, the lack of focus on this aspect is because the garden is off-limits for filming.
That post got me thinking: outside of the specific gardening-focused shows, how often do you see gardens or gardening on TV as a primary focus? Honestly, the pickings are pretty slim. You're much more likely to find characters at a bar or on their couch than talking while they tend a garden. There definitely aren't many shows in a rural setting at all these days. It seemed like an interesting challenge, however, to dig up gardening related moments in some of my favorite TV shows. (No, no, I won't claim to be covering everything.) Here are some fun bits that came to mind and were easily corroborated with some light research. This is definitely a not-so-serious look into TV gardens — feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments!
Six Feet Under is one show that was always reliable when it comes to gardening, at least for flowers. Obviously, running a funeral home requires a great deal of floral deliveries all the time. Add in the Los Angeles location and we would often see characters spending time out side in a variety of nature-based scenes.
Ruth Fischer would often be found gardening outside, and she even worked briefly at the flower shop that supplied their flowers. The nature of this show is about life as much as death, so it makes sense that greenery and nature were a very prominent aspect of the show.
First of all, spoiler alert to anyone who is not current on Breaking Bad. Secondly, you should not be surprised that the gardening tie-in with this show is rather dark. Maybe it's a stretch, but considering a simple plant played a huge key point in the end of season 4, I'd say it's important.
Walter White chose the Lily of the Valley plant to poison another character, which in turn caused several events that eventually ended up in his favor. For now. The best part, of course, is that the big reveal doesn't come until the last second of the season finale, but suddenly it puts everything together. Realistically, a show that is based on a chemically created illegal substance isn't going to have a great deal of plant life, but it is used well here.
In classic nerd fashion, I can tell you that in the episode of Community called "Aerodynamics of Gender," the production team made a specific choice for their "secret garden" that housed a secret trampoline. All scenes involving this garden are highlighted in a special way.
Producer Jake Aust mentions in the episode commentary that he chose the heavily saturated colors on all those scenes to highlight the magical feeling the garden brought to the characters. It's a luscious and dreamy garden that enhances the feeling of magic. And it's essential to the telling of the story, especially or in spite of how the end of the episode plays out.
Maybe the underlying metaphor at play here is how gardens and nature are often too far in the background of our lives. Even if we see or acknowledge the results of a garden through our meals, we rarely see the direct source. None of the examples I gave above actually show the garden as anything more than an accent for the environment, or as a nefarious tool, or a companion to life and death. OK, lets not get too deep now. Gardens and gardening are definitely necessary to our environment and sometimes have a more significant role in our lives, while other times it's more about the background. As a native Southern Californian living in upstate NY, I can tell you that I miss year-round greenery often, even if I did grow up without seasons.