Better Homes and Gardens presenter and renowned horticulturalist, Graham Ross, picked a good time to visit Cockington Green Gardens, filming there last week in the sunshine before the icy rain returned to Canberra.
He has a long association with the founders of Cockington Green, Doug and Brenda Sarah, visiting them from the mid-1980s after they started the mini-world back in 1979.
Ross started a gardening tour company in 1980, taking tours of garden fanciers around Australia and overseas. Cockington Green was always on the agenda for NSW and ACT garden tours.
"We've taken nearly 800 tours around the planet," he proudly told us this week.
(That was before COVID-19. Ross said he had to cancel tours this year to Japan but was busy scrambling to restore tours to South Australia with the borders opening up and, hopefully, eventually, Western Australia, famous for its wildflowers.)
There is, of course, also his television work.
This is Ross' 26th season presenting on Better Homes and Gardens, the only original presenter left.
He is already researching segments for his 27th season in 2021.
Ross wanted to return to Cockington Green after not filming there for at least 10 to 15 years, meeting up this time with the Sarahs' son, Mark, now general manager of the facility.
"It was long overdue for us to go back and film it, that was for sure," he said.
"And the great thing was I've been able to go back and see how it had changed and how Mark had brought it into the 21st century."
Mr Ross said Cockington Green deserved to be known as much for its gardens as it's whimsical, intricate, scale models.
"The standard of horticulture at Cockington Green has been first-class since the beginning," he said.
"They've done a really, really good job. As an Australian, I'm enormously proud of it."
The longevity of Better Homes and Gardens was also something to be proud of, not quite to Cockington Green's 41 years, but moving into its 27th year on the small screen.
Ross said while he was the only original presenter since the show started in 1995, many of the same camera crew were still working on it.
The formula had changed very little since then, this year seeing the biggest change with 11 presenters, compared to five when the show started.
"They originally put us up against Friends and that was a number one show globally and I thought, 'That's not going to work' and we won the first night and Better Homes stayed at number one," he said.
This year, Ross believed Better Homes and Gardens had been a salve in times of uncertainty.
"It's that familiarity that people love," he said.
- Better Homes and Gardens featuring Cockington Green Gardens will air this coming Friday, October 2 on Prime7 at 7pm.