Greening Australia

It seems ridiculous to state the obvious, but Australia is a big country with many different climates and a huge variety of gardens.

If you are the host of Gardening Australia, one of the nation’s longest-running TV shows, this could be a problem, but according to the eternally enthusiastic Costa Georgiadis, this is what makes his job – and the show exciting. There’s still so much to cover and he says the subject matter will never get boring.

“I see the excitement and the enthusiasm and passion in the smallest of things,” he says. “I get as energised and excited with seeing just minutely new stuff, minutely angled, slightly different things and that’s what keeps it fresh. And, despite all of the fact sheets and all of the information that we have at our disposal with our website, if we are going to remain valid we need to constantly look through the same goggles, but with a new fascination.”

“And that’s what excites me, that ability to generate awe in the wonderful details and intricacies of nature,” he says, adding that one of the wonderful and mysterious things about gardening is that ultimately we can’t control everything.

“Growing something is still that mysterious thing because it can die if you neglect it, if you over-water it, if you over-feed it – there’s so many things,” he says.


Environmental scientist Josh shows two of his must-have tools to monitor your garden

Gardening Australia is now in its 28th season, yet still remains fresh and relevant to both its devotedly loyal viewers as well as (hopefully) new fans every year.

“It’s a long-standing show and I suppose the thing that has kept it in good stead is because it has to be rigorously independent, it hasn’t ebbed and flowed with trends and commercial pressures in terms of styles and things like that,” Georgiadis says.

“It’s remained a rigorously practical garden information show, so we are not branded as just a one-trick pony - like we are just into this style or that style. We really are about showcasing and presenting the range; the serious range of people that get into gardening.”


Georgiadis chats with passionate landscaper Michael Bates who has been experimenting in his country garden for over 15 years

And garden lovers can come in all forms, Georgiadis says. “Some are absolutely long-term garden geeks and others are novices and others are just passionate about one thing,” he says with a laugh.

“You get your orchid people and your begonia people and your fuchsia people and your native groundcover people and your vegie people. So there’s so many different nooks and crannies that people can get lost in gardening.”

“You don’t have to be a landscape architect or an experienced gardener. Experience comes with the motivation and the motivation only comes when there’s animation and the animation comes because you are feeling awe.”

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Costa Georgiadis has an all-consuming passion for plants and people

However, there is one question that always comes up with Georgiadis – and it doesn’t have anything to do with gardening. It’s about his rather spectacular beard. Checking out the show’s social media, it seems that many viewers have strong opinions about it.

“It’s the chestnut that one,” he says, laughing. “I think it’s one of those things. There is polarity there. Some people just can’t deal with it. Some people just don’t like it. And I just look at that and say, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and if you don’t like the way I look, I can appreciate that, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am going to change. I’ve been this a lot longer than I have been the face of a TV show.

“But I suppose I’ve never taken it on personally because I know who I am. And I won’t change it for the sake of trying to fit someone’s paradigm because paradigms come and go and I was there before all of this palaver.”

“There’s nothing to read into it. I love not having to shave. Full stop.”

The new season of Gardening Australia is now on ABC TV on Saturday evenings at 6.30pm.

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(Photography: © Colin Page)

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