It is all systems go at Bryce Lane’s garden on early Tuesday morning. Producers of the popular NC State-produced show “In the Garden with Bryce Lane,” Sonya Harris and Simone Keith, must produce several episodes by Labor Day in time for the fall season’s launch on UNC-TV.
With Keith filming from a ladder, Harris on sound and everyone cracking up while Lane, the show host, fluffs the plant of the week, Hypoestes phyllostachya (also known as the polka-dot plant), it is amazing to see the show unfold. This is the 10th season and Lane attributes any success to his team.
“My producers know what ideas work for television and how to explain complex horticultural techniques in three minutes. We work together extremely well,” he says.
An Emmy-winning show
Viewers love “In the Garden.” The show, which also serves as a distance education course, won an Emmy last year, was nominated twice again this year and has visited nurseries and botanical gardens afar as England, Italy and Brazil.
Viewers appreciate the constructive takeaways for novices and advanced gardeners. For instance, after showing gorgeous archways built with rebar and branches at the Chanticleer Gardens, Lane re-created this Pennsylvanian landmark at his home. In fact, 100 projects have been re-created in Lane’s own garden — a vibrant home to exotic species like Thailand elephant ears and that polka-dot plant few can pronounce.
Lane is always upbeat but honest, showing viewers precisely what each project involves. When building a patio extension last summer in Harris’s backyard he reminded viewers, “this is really hard work, folks!” Each show also ties back to NC State. Featured experts might be professors or graduates from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, everyone from managers of botanical gardens, nursery owners to cultivators of new plants.
And yet surprisingly, Lane lacked any prior TV experience. His love of horticulture began as a boy in western Massachusetts where universities and farms were located five miles from his family home. He tended to his parent’s bounteous vegetable garden, helped pickle the cucumbers every fall and saved for college by working part-time at the Hadley Garden Center. While carrying heavy bags of manure, straw bales and plants to customers’ cars Lane realized he loved talking about plants.
Lane kept the job while studying horticulture at the University of Connecticut, then taking the advice of a dear professor, he abandoned his plans to manage the Hadley Garden Center and pursued his master’s degree instead.
The idea for an instructive gardening show evolved 22 years after Lane began teaching horticulture at NC State. Harris remembers Lane being camera shy at first. Then, watching him teaching his students out in the field one day, she saw a more natural and enthused style. “I asked him to speak just like that on TV,” she says.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Lane laughs. “But TV quickly felt natural.”
A new season
The new season of “In the Garden” first airs on Sept. 22 and will cover garden trends for 2012, energy-efficient landscaping along with visits to gardens in Atlanta. For Lane it’s all a joy.
“Visiting beautiful gardens and putting to trial intricate gardening practices in my own backyard has been a privilege,” he says and returns to his plants.