May 20th, 2014
Back when TV ran real how-to-garden shows, PBS’ The Victory Garden was the archetype.
For 15 years, the show’s chief professor was Roger Swain, a down-to-earth, white-bearded soil sage most recognized for his red suspenders.
Each Saturday, Roger would dig a little, teach a little, prune a little and cajole a little.
It was a nice mix of neighborly chat and instruction that left viewers with a lot more gardening acumen than when they first sat down.
Bathroom makeovers and house-hunting in Brazil apparently are more popular (or at least more profitable) topics these days, and Roger is no longer on the airwaves.
He is, however, still pruning and digging and talking to gardeners, mostly at garden shows around the country. For several years, he drew faithful crowds at Harrisburg’s own Pennsylvania Garden Expo.
Though people seem most drawn by his down-home charm, Roger also happens to be brilliant. He’s got a Ph.D. from Harvard, has written five books and for many years was the science editor of Horticulture magazine.
He’s an interesting fellow, and that’s why I thought it might be fun for local gardeners to spend an afternoon with him on his New Hampshire farmette.
That’s scheduled for Sun., June 29, as part of a 5-day gardener’s mini-vacation to New England that Lowee’s Group Tours and I have put together.
The exclusive visit with Roger is sure to be the highlight, but we’re also going to see the up-and-coming Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (which Trip Advisor readers score the highest of any U.S. public garden), the ritzy grounds of New York’s Mohonk Mountain House, Boston’s Tower Botanical Gardens, the native plants at the New England Wildflower Society Gardens, and the underrated Stonecrop Gardens in New York’s Hudson Valley.