Stephen with his much loved dogs

As many of you will now know, Stephen Ryan, horticulturalist, author and broadcaster is no longer the host of Gardening Australia. It is their loss, but unfortunately ours too. Stephen is a friend, so this is not totally unbiased, but I believe that the ABC has been foolish in the way they have squandered his talents. Stephen has a knowledge of horticulture that is second to none. For more than forty years he has worked in the world of plants, winning awards and scholarships, writing books and speaking on the subject all over Australia and overseas. But instead of tapping into this ‘fountain of all knowledge’, they used him to do awkward connects between segments and to spruik a viewer’s suggestion. Such a wasted opportunity. Gardening Australia has, for so many years, worked to showcase gardening for people of all abilities. I have been gardening, and writing about gardening now a long time, and have often learnt something new from watching Gardening Australia. But not so much recently. I sense that in sacking someone as charismatic and knowledgeable as Stephen Ryan, Gardening Australia is heading down the track of the commercial stations, going for popular at the expense of informed. I guess we will know more about the trend when we see who is appointed to the new position. I hope the appointment won’t be all about style, rather than substance.