It was the news that shook Cat Malojin to its very core – last week Huffington Post revealed that classic MTV show Pimp My Ride was largely staged, and that fittings like chandeliers and hot tubs aren’t actually practical for functioning vehicles. For the public good Cat Malojin decided to investigate if any similar malpractices are happening in Irish television programmes. We wished we hadn’t but what we discovered about the 2009 Diarmuid Gavin show, I Want A Garden, will startle even the most cynical of readers.
I Want a Garden was supposed to be beacon of hope and escapism for the Irish people, at a time when the economic crisis at its worse. According to RTE, award-winning gardener Diarmuid Gavin was to come to the aid of families looking to revamp their backyards – Diarmuid’s design, creative flare and advice all free of charge, with each participant setting a brief and financing the works.
So far, so straight-forward. And, in fairness the end product looked well on TV. The truth though, behind the scenes, was very different.
Jimmy O’Shea from Skerries remembers the experience thusly:
“Myself and my wife Mags had recently retired and had a bit of a nest egg put away, after working for 50 years. We had never managed to take a holiday away in all that time, would you believe?! We always had a large garden that we never had the time or money to do anything with, so when we heard about the show, we immediately applied and were delighted to be accepted. We gave Diarmuid a brief to redesign the garden in a traditional Japanese type style, and gave him €20,000 to do so. Diarmuid didn’t want to hear about a traditional Japanese style though, and he kept on saying he wanted to do something with gnomes. I had to tell him a hundred times that I didn’t want any fucken gnomes. Anyways, we went away to the beach in Swords for two weeks while the work was to be carried out.”
“When we came back though, to our dismay, Diarmuid had dug up the whole garden and heaped the topsoil into a racetrack for his quadbikes. There was a gang of these quad bikers set up in a camp in the garden – beer cans and Cuisine de France bags strewn everywhere. Around the edge of the track he had set up a grandstand type area, filled with about 2,000 gnomes. He explained that after hiring a digger and buying all the gnomes he didn’t have any money left over for anything else – He seemed to think that he had met the brief as all the quads the gang were using were either Honda or Kawasaki, and that the garden was now like Wario-Land in Mario Kart for the Nintendo 64, which in fairness was a Japanese game. In the end the producers just used footage from The Last Samurai, and no one seemed to notice. Poor Mags got Post Trauma Stress Disorder after the experience though, and goes berserk to this day whenever she sees a gnome, dwarf or just any bearded man in general under about 5 foot 7.”
Sending the homeowners away seems to have been a common ploy of Gavin’s. Noel from Cavan remember that as soon as he left, Gavin unloaded a trailer full with his fighting cocks into the garden to graze on the flowerbeds. Dympna from Ballaghdereen returned to find Gavin in control of a mini-digger, in the process of burying barrels of industrial waste under a rockery. He claims it was a slow release fertiliser.
We questioned Diarmuid about the other accusations – He said that having a quad track in your back garden is fucken deadly and those old squares should have been more grateful. An argument with which we can’t help but agree completely.