Matt James rescues American neglected backyards in Urban Outsiders

Gardener and TV host Matt James in Urban Outsiders

If you watched the excellent gardening series The City Gardener, you already know that Matt James operates miracles on ugly, small size, weird shaped urban gardens around the UK.

I told you earlier about my admiration for Matt James’ work. You will not be surprised to hear that I am thrilled to see him in a new TV series.

For once, I can talk about a TV series that runs simultaneously on HGTV in the United States and in Canada. HTGV ordered the series from Twofour Broadcast, the same company that produced The City Gardener. This time, Matt works his green-fingered magic on 26 gardens across America.

The synopsis by HGTV says:

Urban Outsiders tackles outdoor transformations from New York to Los Angeles, and does it all with energy, personality and modern flair. The concrete jungle has never looked this cool!

What is so great about Matt James garden’s design?

Matt grasps the concept that for most people a backyard is primary a place to entertain your friends and to relax from work. So he likes to create urban oasis where you can easily throw parties at day and night times. He creates backyards that the household can enjoy every day.

Even if he always stayed true to his design style, Matt always attends to the needs of the home owners. Most of his gardens are low maintenance which is a big plus in my book. The interior design of the home also influences the style of his garden. He wants the garden to be a nice focus point when you are inside the house. And he talks about the needs of the plants and why he selected them.

The 30-minute show has basically the same format as The City Gardener with little cultural adaptations. I have seen one episode so far, the water-saving garden beside LAX. Although it was not his most impressive design, Matt accomplished a lot in a spacious arid garden. This show is six tons better than what you usually get on American and Canadian Television.

What I am looking for in a gardening TV series?

Where I live, it is even worst on French speaking TV. The Quebec TV garden scene is simply awful from a design point of view. They do give great tips on how to take care for the plants but I am not a gardener. I do not have a green thumb. At home, I select the plants and ask my husband to do the planting. I assist him by telling which plants go where. So I listen to a garden show from a design point of view.

Before Matt James was on TV, my favorite gardening host was Alan Titchmarsh. On BBC Canada, I followed him with the hugely popular Ground Force, which, at its peak, pulled in 12 million viewers in UK. During the course of the series, Alan designed over 60 gardens, including one for Nelson Mandela. His series How to be a Gardener was surprisingly a lot about the rules for designing a fabulous garden.

I encourage you to watch more gardening shows from Britain. You can learn a thing or two. Get your feet wet with Urban Outsiders.

For US residents: Urban Outsider on HGTV.com – first airing: Thursday at 9:30 pm
For Canadian residents: Urban Outsider on HGTV.ca – first airing: Tuesday at 10 pm
TV series producer: Latest broadcast credits of Twofour Broadcast
Learn more: Web site of Alan Titchmarsh
Photo credits of Matt: Presenter Matt James on Channel4 Web site

  • Marti Lincavage
    July 5, 2011 at 10:17

    does anyone know how to find Urban Outsider dvds???? help with information please.