27 November 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
     
New series The Wild Gardener continues this Friday, Nov 26th on BBC Two at 8pm
26 Nov 2021 : Nathan Griffin
Wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson
Returning home to Wicklow on a very personal project, The Wild Gardener follows wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson as he embarks on a journey to turn his old childhood garden into a haven for native wildlife.

The series continues on BBC Two this Friday, November 26th and on BBC NI Two and BBC One NI at 10:35pm on Wednesday, December 1st.

We spoke to director John Murray ahead of episode two to find out about how the show came about, the two-year filming process, and what he hopes audiences take away from the series.

“Lose those lawns” is Colin’s battle cry, “Nature needs your garden.” After 30 years of filming the world’s most iconic creatures, the series follows Colin as he heads back to Ireland and a garden, he spent his childhood summers mowing and spraying. But now he wants to transform this old orchard into a celebration of the native plants and animals now struggling to survive on these islands and inspire viewers to do the same.

“We teamed up years ago with Colin for a film about a famous tiger called Broken Tail. It did very well, winning awards worldwide,” director John Murray told IFTN. “We went on to do more films together about the River Shannon (The Secret Life of the Shannon / Ireland’s Wild River),  the west coast of Ireland (Wild Ireland / Ireland’s Wild Coast), and Cuba (Wild Cuba: A Caribbean Journey).”

“The Wild Gardener was Colin's idea. Being the son of Barney Johnson - Ireland's first TV gardener - their family business was a garden centre and Colin grew up in a very formal gardening world,” Murray continued. “But he went on to become a wildlife cameraman and after decades of seeing wildlife in free fall he wanted to find a project that could give him a sense of hope for the natural world.”

“Colin had recently inherited his childhood garden in Wicklow and this provided a perfect opportunity to take on his own personal project to try and create a safe haven for native wildlife,” added Murray.

Shot over the course of two years, Colin sets out to transform this overgrown orchard on Ireland’s east coast, into the ultimate wildlife haven, a sanctuary to both provide a home and celebrate the native plants and animals of these islands.

“The film experience was great,” said Murray. “It was wonderful to get to follow the transformation of an overgrown childhood garden into something quite magical.”

On his journey, Colin travels across Britain and Ireland to meet other wild gardeners on their personal crusades using what he learns to help complete his own garden transformation. From tiny green havens in London City, to country estates embracing the wilder side, each fresh location delivers new lessons to apply to his own Irish garden.

Asked what The Wild Gardener team hope audiences take from the series, Murray said: “We’d hope that people can see that the natural world needs our help and that it’s within our power to do something - no matter how small. It doesn’t have to be a big patch of land, in the smallest garden or even just a hanging basket or window box you can create a welcoming and safe space to help our native creatures and nature thrive.”

The Wild Gardener is made by Crossing Line Productions for BBC & BBC NI. Produced with the support of investment incentives for the Irish film industry provided by the Government of Ireland. The series is produced by Cepa Giblin and directed by John Murray & Jamie Fitzpatrick.

The series continues on BBC Two this Friday, November 26th and on BBC NI Two and BBC One NI at 10:35pm on Wednesday, December 1st.





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