Gardening ‘doesn’t get recognition it should’, says Beechgrove’s Jim

Beechgrove Garden presenters Jim McColl, Carole Baxter, Chris Beardshaw and George Anderson.

Beechgrove Garden presenters Jim McColl, Carole Baxter, Chris Beardshaw and George Anderson.

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Beechgrove Garden presenter Jim McColl says the UK’s gardeners deserve more credit for the contribution they make to the country.

McColl, 79, has been fronting the popular TV programme since it first aired in 1978.

Speaking before a ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ event in Rothesay this week - to be broadcast next month as part of a special programme dedicated to the isle of Bute - Jim said: “I don’t think we get the recognition that we should. I don’t mean any of us [the programme’s team of presenters], I mean the industry.

“The industry, in the UK, annually nets over five billion quid. And yet in Scotland we get one half-hour of Beechgrove for 26 weeks.

“There is no programme on BBC Radio Scotland which actually has ‘gardening’ in its title, and yet we get, what, 25, 30, 40 hours a week of football. And it’s not even good.”

McColl’s comments echo his attack on the corporation in 2012 over its decision to axe the Beechgrove Potting Shed, a fixture of the BBC Radio Scotland schedules for 20 years.

“Politicians are quite happy to tick the boxes in terms of healthy living, healthy eating, exercise, social integration et cetera,” he continued, “and gardening actually ticks all the boxes.

“And there’s mental health too - we’ve been involved with Gardening Leave [a charity which uses horticultural therapy to support war veterans back to civilian life] and we have guys back from Afghanistan signing up for courses.

“But it doesn’t happen in an hour, or in a day. It happens because gardeners are working at it all the time.”

The Beechgrove Garden’s Bute episode, featuring all four members of the regular Beechgrove presentation team - McColl, Carole Baxter, George Anderson and Chris Beardshaw - will be broadcast on Thursday, September 10.