Friday, 24 August 2012

The Flowerpot Gang

This is a fairly brief post to fill anyone interested in on my experience of being a volunteer for the current series of The Flowerpot Gang.

The episode that was broadcast this week was based in Sunderland at the young carers support centre and, being a priviledged resident of that fair city, I responded to the call for volunteers made the previous week. I emailed in as instructed and, much to my surprise, I was contacted within a couple of hours by someone from the production company inviting me along last Friday and asking for details of when I'd like to come along and what I could do. I work full time so was only able to go for the afternoon session. This was a bit of a shame as it turned out because most of the interesting work was done in the morning, and apparently most of the filming was too.

We got there at 2PM as instructed, signed some stuff as expected and then spent quite some time standing around waiting for someone to instruct us on what needed doing. I ended up doing some work on a sand pit (raking the sand flat, trampling it down and then raking it smooth again), tidying up the edge of a border, and planting a single solitary plant. The rest of the afternoon was spent standing around eating cake (so not all bad) and looking like we were having a good time while the film crew got the finishing shots they needed of the "party atmosphere". As you may have gathered from the way I'm describing it, the whole thing seemed a bit hollow and contived. They could have made much better use of the volunteers at their disposal, but in the end it was inevitably about making entertaining TV, rather than actually making a good, long lasting garden.

Don't get me wrong, the cause was fantastically deserving - the young carers that the centre supports are under an unimaginable amount of pressure for such a young age.  I have in fact volunteered to go back and help with the upkeep of the garden. Hopefully I can have a hand in turning the badly made but prettily dressed borders into something that will be the sort of low maintenance/high impact planting area that a project like this needs.

With a 3 second shot of my back being my sole inclusion in the finished program I guess I cannot yet claim a debut for my TV gardening superstardom. And I still have no idea what the hell Phil Tufnell was doing there.