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Step into the garden on Garden Time

by: Vern Uyetake, Little time is wasted in Gustin’s work. After just a few minutes of instruction, he videotapes a segment for Garden Time and a half-hour later he’s off to another taping.

Jeff Gustin refers to himself as a 'drive-by' gardener. Although the long-time Lake Oswego resident's wife has a degree in horticulture, he has picked up much of his gardening knowledge in the past few years.

'I've broken many a shovel and there was a time when I wasn't allowed to prune any more. I know enough now to make me dangerous,' he says.

But Gustin has influenced thousands of gardeners in the Portland and Salem metro areas.

Gustin worked closely with Mike Darcy on Darcy's popular and long-running gardening show on KATU Channel 2 and also worked on Channel 12 for 18 years.

After Darcy's show was canceled, much to the chagrin of its loyal viewers, Gustin started doing video production work for various companies. In the past he worked with the annual Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and he also does editing and production work for SOLV.

But, recently, Gustin was lured back to Channel 12 to head up another gardening program. He is now the owner and producer of Garden Time, a weekly show that appears at 9 a.m. on Saturdays in the metro area and 9:30 a.m. in Salem.

'This was a perfect opportunity for me to stretch my wings,' Gustin said.

The show kicked off on April 8 and has already been receiving positive feedback from viewers and has been a surprise hit in the ratings so far.

'We were No. 1 on Saturday mornings over the summer. We beat news and cartoons. The response has been tremendous,' Gustin said.

Garden Time is a true grassroots production. Gustin's small crew meets early on Monday mornings for coffee and to discuss the day's schedule.

Then, the team travels to a variety of locations and shoots the week's episode. For the most part, the show's hosts don't have any television experience but they are all knowledgeable and move the show along smoothly.

Gustin's primary goal for Garden Time is to make it an informational show and to get as many people off of the couch and into their yards as possible.

'A lot of people are scared of gardening. But it's one of the few hobbies where you can do something wrong, learn from it and then have a completely blank slate,' Gustin said.

Garden Time is shot at a number of different locations around Portland and Salem depending on what the upcoming show's theme is.

'If we're doing a segment on water features, we'll be at Hughes Water Gardens. Pretty soon we're going to the Hoyt Arboretum to see the autumn colors,' Gustin said.

Gustin says that the Northwest is a Mecca for gardeners as yards can be worked on year-round.

'The Northwest is so unique and our goal is to get as many people to see that as possible,' Gustin said.

In upcoming shows, Garden Time will look to focus on topics such as how to prune for fall, winterizing water features and how to get trees and shrubs ready for the upcoming cold weather.

Gustin also aims to give viewers creative ideas for their gardens to increase gardening's appeal to people of all ages.

'We want to educate and also do fun things for kids to get them outdoors,' Gustin said.

The show will continue filming this year until Dec. 2 before it takes a brief hiatus during the winter and will return in March. Garden Time is also expected to debut in Eugene sometime in the next few months.

For more information on the show, visit www.gardentime.tv.