Ever since I was little, I've had a "green thumb", growing various plants on the windowsill and working with my folks in the garden that we had that was on a nature path next to the local commuter rail tracks (probably best not to think about the fact that the trains and their various smoke and pollutants were going past the garden many times a day.) Lately, I've started growing herbs indoor again, and have had success with chives (although it's really rather impossible not to grow chives), dill, spearmint and others. With all the online stores devoted to gardening, it's really easy and inexpensive to set up your own indoor garden these days.
"People, Places and Plants" was a HGTV network series that starred hosts Roger Swain and Paul Tukey. The older Swain rose to popularity as host of "Victory Garden" on PBS and is the editor of Horticulture magazine. He's also written five books on the subject. Tukey is the editor of People, Places & Plants magazine and has won awards for his work in gardening. The two different hosts have a nice chemistry with one another and both do a fine job either apart or together during the show's segments.
The series is split into 3 main segments: "people", "places" and "plants". These are largely local people who have accomplished remarkable gardening work on their own or in local nurseries/nature centers that have provided outstanding service to their communities. Some of the people include Sharon Loving, who is the head of the horticulture department at the 1050 acre Longwood Gardens. There's also plant explorer Richard Campbell, who spends his time in exotic lands in search of and studying tropical fruits. In another episode, Joy Longfellow, daughter of the owners of the Longfellow's Greenhouses in Maine, gets a scholarship to Cornell, where she plans to study horticulture.
The "places" segment has either of the hosts heading off to various locations across the country to profile historic gardening spots, local botanic gardens, fairs and other neat spots. Finally, the "plants" segment puts the spotlight on various plant species to discuss their background and/or how best to place them in your garden.
Each episode concludes with "Food For Thought", a short (but still very informative) Q & A session where Swain responds to viewer mail. "People, Places and Plants" may be a cable series, but it appears to be working with a reasonably solid budget, as the series boasts lovely cinematography and takes the viewer to a wide array of different places across the US. Additionally, plant lovers will be pleased that the series does an excellent job appealing to all skill levels - it doesn't keep things too basic for experts or too complicated for beginners.
While many fans of today's TV shows are rightly disappointed by having to pay $29-39 for a season of a series or even a "best of", "People, Places and Plants" will likely please fans with its very reasonable $39 ($29 in most stores) price tag for the complete series: 46 episodes and a total of over 16 hours of viewing.
VIDEO: "People and Places and Plants" is presented by Image Entertainment in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. As one would expect, the series shows plenty of bright colors, all of which are presented quite well here, looking well-saturated and bright, with no smearing or other concerns. The presentation did show some minor shimmer, but now other flaws were spotted.
SOUND: Crisp, clear stereo soundtrack.
EXTRAS: About 6 minutes of outtakes do offers some spills and missed lines - a couple of laughs here-and-there. We also get a 10 minute interview with Swain where he discusses his career and some stories from his years in the industry. We also hear how the show came together and Swain's thoughts on filming the series.
Final Thoughts: "People, Places and Plants" is a terrific series that is fun for both new and skilled gardeners. It's also a very pleasant "background" show to have on while working or exercising. The DVD set offers tons of episodes for a low price, fine audio/video quality and a couple of minor extras. Recommended.