A decade on from iconic outdoor improvement TV series Ground Force, Charlie Dimmock is back and still encouraging all and sundry to get their hands dirty – this time with the help of Dealz and its new range
21 April 2016
Almost any success story that ends with a starring part on a hit TV programme includes the phrase “I was in the right place at the right time”, and Charlie Dimmock is no different when recounting how she ended up alongside Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh as one of the stars of Ground Force, the widely-loved gardening series, broadcast by the BBC between 1997 and 2005.
We don’t doubt that there’s a dash of modesty in there too, mixed with self-deprecation, but also there’s no doubt that Dimmock was and is one of the foremost gardening experts out there. Over the years she has inspired hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people to get out there and have a crack at growing something. And that’s no different now than when Ground Force came to an end: she’s currently lending her skills and enthusiasm to Dealz’s latest line of gardening implements, supplies and accoutrements which has the same objective.
The collaboration between Charlie Dimmock and Dealz consists of 130 lines, each of which she herself has inspected, tested and approved, all at the impressive €1.49 price point. “For any project one might be working on,” she says, “there are three specific areas that the pieces fall in to. I call them things you ‘Do’ – that’s tools like snips, supports, fittings, hoes, brushes, trellises and so on.
“Then,” Dimmock continues, “there are things you ‘Use’ – that’s stock that you use up in the processes, like slow release fertiliser, moisture retention crystals, plant food, things like that.
“And finally, there are things you ‘Put’. These are the little extras that you can dot around the place to put an accent on your garden, and give it a bit of personality.”
A little bit of everything
This last section is where the Dealz collection comes to life, and where consumers might suddenly realise that they too can have a good-looking, well-manicured garden (or yard, or window box, for that matter). Solar lights, furniture and other decorations are a strong part of the collection, and Dimmock herself confesses that the problem with her own home garden is that she wants a little bit of everything. “It’s overplanted,” she jokes, “so I think in this case one should do as I say, not as I do!
“My garden is full of what my father would call ‘toot’,” Dimmock continues. “I’ve got this and that and two of those, I’ve got trellises, lights, ornaments; lots of stuff crammed in everywhere. He called it toot, I call it personality.”
The arrival of Dealz’s gardening range is just in time for the change in seasons, and Dimmock firmly believes it will give parents a chance to engage their kids in an outdoor pursuit that is both fun and rewarding. In fact, a lot of her charity work involves just that, engaging school children in gardening activities and teaching them how to cultivate and grow their own plants, flowers and more.
“They love it,” she says. “People say kids today just want computer games, which is partly true, but if you give them everything they need to have a crack at a bit of gardening, they will engage with it straight away. That includes not giving them that weedy patch under the tree at the end of the garden. They need a raised bed filled with compost, or a large container they can plant things in directly. Parents might need to do the watering now and again but the results in getting your kids involved with gardening can be wonderful.
“You just give them what they need to get started,” she adds, “and let them make a mess!”
New gardening programme
As for her main role as affable expert TV gardener, Dimmock reveals to ShelfLife that filming has begun on a new, as-yet untitled gardening programme for the BBC. “I’ve been working with two Welsh garden designers, the Rich brothers,” she says. “I met them at Chelsea [Flower Show] last year. They do very local, naturalistic wild flower gardens, so I’m looking forward to working with them.”
It’s just for daytime TV, Dimmock adds modestly, although we’re certain it will find its audience before long.
And as for the Ground Force heyday in which she, Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh were household names, drawing millions of viewers every week, Dimmock confesses that while she misses her two co-stars, she does not miss the visibility that the programme brought her. “I don’t miss the awards shows and all that,” she says. “The first few times it was exciting, sure, but then they all got a bit boring.”
The Charlie Dimmock gardening range is available now at Dealz’s 50 stores across Ireland.