They'll be no shortage of gardening programmes on TV next year with several old favourites returning and also some new series. Andy Taylor has been finding out what's planned for 2017.
Sutton Coldfield resident A. Gardner has the perfect job to fit his name, he's a gardener. Alan is also autistic and this week Nathan James Dodd watched the first in a series of his garden makeover shows.
Adopting a rather different image to most gardeners we see on TV, Alan Gardner has pink hair, tattoos and paints his fingernails. But he also has medals from Chelsea, including a silver this year, to vouch for his horticultural skills.
Helping him to makeover the gardens are five other autists who have problems with communications and social interaction.
They are all keen gardeners, Philip is particularly interested in exotic plants, Charles grows vegetables, Victoria loves colour, Thomas craves precision, while James is a walking plant encyclopaedia.
Alan sees mathematical formulae everywhere in the garden, visualises everything in great detail and uses patterns to create outstanding gardens. He galvanises the team, organising them to make the most of their potential.
In the first episode an unloved garden in Derbyshire is transformed to the delight of initially sceptical owners. Lilac railway sleepers are draped in netting, an insect hotel and turf giant installed, not forgetting a vibrant planting scheme.
1.3m viewers tuned in and saw that autism, which makes teamwork and interaction with other people daunting, can be channelled into gardening to create some wonderful results.
'The Autistic Gardener' is on Channel 4 every Wednesday at 20.00.
For more information on autism go to www.autism.org.uk
Nathan James Dodd
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