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Oklahoma Gardening Reaches New Milestone

Oklahoma Gardening Reaches New Milestone

What began in 1975 with plants displayed on a tabletop in the Oklahoma Educational Television Studio in Oklahoma City has blossomed into something hundreds of thousands of gardeners across the state have been tuning in to watch for 40 seasons.

Featuring sage plant tips, gardening how-tos and tried-and-true horticulture advice, “Oklahoma Gardening” has withstood the test of time and continues to meet the needs of the gardening public.

“Oklahoma Gardening” celebrated 40 seasons on air in July 2013. Joe Maxson, who served as the show’s inaugural host, remembers “Oklahoma Gardening’s” humble beginning.

“I drove down to the OETA studio every week with the plants I was going to use and decorated the set. There’s no way to glorify it. The set was basically a table top,” Maxson said. “When we were done shooting, we’d load it all back up, drive back to Stillwater and unload the plants in the OSU greenhouses.”

Over the past 40 seasons, the show has flourished. Each of the 10 hosts has brought his or her own passion, unique experiences and special touch to the show. In fact, Ray Campbell hosted the show from his own backyard from 1980-1986. Campbell recalls filming a show and planning to demonstrate the proper application of pesticides. However, once filming began he learned the sprayer did not work.

“The thought came to my mind that I would just show how to repair a sprayer,” he said. “Sometimes we had to improvise. We couldn’t do a lot of retakes and editing like they do today. Sometimes, we just had to make it work.”

Fortunately, in 1986, “Oklahoma Gardening” was given a parcel of land west of Stillwater, and the rest is history. The once-overgrown patch of land now features demonstration gardens, a children’s garden, a Japanese garden, a butterfly garden and more. New features are added every year.

“Oklahoma Gardening” also showcases cooking segments with Extension food specialist Barbara Brown highlighting vegetables and herbs grown in the garden. Extension consumer horticulturist David Hillock provides viewers with sound gardening advice.

Kim Toscano, Oklahoma Gardening’s host since 2007, said a healthy living environment and being a good steward of the land are driving forces behind her programming.

“Our mission hasn’t changed over the course of 40 seasons,” Toscano said. “And as we move forward, we will continue to inspire our viewers and provide practical information specific to Oklahoma’s unique gardening environments. We strive to address issues viewers bring to our attention and provide programming that will continually meet their needs.”

-TG

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