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Its a new gig for the gardening gal

We've shared a lot of gardening, you and I. And I have to tell you, it's been a sanity-saver for the past year and a half as I've battled a life-threatening cancer.

The surgery, radiation and chemo are behind me. As of last October, I'm completely cured of lymphoma, a blood disease. Nothing compares with the sound of that: 'cured.'

A new perspective on life brings changes. You might have seen some of my gardening stories in the past five years on the KOIN (6) evening news. Well, I've changed stations. I've gone back home to KGW (8), the place where I started in Portland in 1988. And I've got a new job.

I'm now the host and co-writer of a new half-hour program called 'Your Northwest Garden With Anne Jaeger.' It will air every Saturday evening at 7 beginning this weekend.

It came as a shock when program director Brenda Buratti called me in February after seeing one of my gardening segments on television. Her goal was threefold: to assemble a highly experienced team (the crew has more than 100 years of television among us), get a new show in the can every two days (that's TV talk for 'completing a show') and make it fun for anyone to watch (gardener or not).

So you'll see a fast-paced, joyful gardening show filled with quick tips and fast fixes you can use at home. We feature talented local artisans who make garden art and talk to gardeners about their yards. Pay attention, and you'll see a lot of my back yard in this show; it's one of our sets in many of the 26 episodes.

I popped in the other day while they were working on the show. Director Gary Furlow was tweaking things when he turned from the editing machine and smiled at me, saying: 'This ain't your usual garden show. It's a whole different approach. It's more of a gardening magazine.'

Which means the emphasis is on beauty and information. The pictures shot by photographer Kevin Ebel are fantastic.

It's exciting to hear people's reactions. Even Rich Brase, a weekend gardener and KGW's creative services director, had a few 'I didn't know that' moments when he watched the first screening.

Both Brase and Buratti say they want a program that allows viewers to 'walk away with something after the show.' About 88,000 viewers are watching the evening news right before us, so it's our job to entertain and inform them.

Every day, the crew talks about what we're doing and how we're going to do it. We shoot rain or shine. If you live in the Northwest you have to, right?

Show producer Victoria Elliott, who has national credits including work on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' figures we've got 20 hours of videotape for our first program this weekend, then there's another 16 hours of editing and graphics needed. That's for about five to eight topics per 20-minute show. Elliott says her goal is to take the mystery out of gardening, while keeping the pace moving.

What's the hardest part for me? I wish my memory were better; some of my memory banks seem to be wiped out by my illness. Fortunately, everyone seems to know how that feels.

We're all shoveling together, and we subscribe to one vision: You don't need to know Latin to grow something beautiful in your yard. We want to help you get your gardening groove on.

For me, it really doesn't get any better than this. I'm thankful I lived to see it.

This week's to-do list:

• If you want a cleaner look in the garden, remove old rhododendron blooms.

• You can plant tomato starts anytime now.

• Hold off on planting corn until the soil warms up in June.

Contact Anne Jaeger through her Web site: www.gardengal.tv.