El Dorado News

Wednesday
August 23, 2017
El Dorado News Times

‘Gardener Guy’ to speak at Dirt Friends Festival

By Special to the News-Times
This article was published February 26, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

EL DORADO — This year’s featured speaker for the Union County Master Gardeners’s annual Dirt Friends Festival will be Paul James, known as the Gardener Guy. The Dirt Friends Festival will include vendors, door prizes and refreshments and promises a morning of gardening fun hosted by Union County Master Gardeners.

The festival will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at College Avenue Church of Christ, 1817 N. College Ave., El Dorado. James has a “somewhat zany style and a commitment to all-natural approaches to gardening that have endeared him to fans long past his HGTV program, ‘Gardening by the Yard’,” Barbie Luther, Union County Master Gardener, said.

James has roots in Arkansas and was born in Little Rock. He spent several summers on his grandparent’s farm in Bearden, where he developed his love for growing things. James spends lots of time in the Natural State, fly fishing with his wife and family along the White, Buffalo, Norfork and King rivers.

From Tulsa, Oklahoma, James hosted HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard” from 1996 to 2009. He was the creator, writer and senior producer and recorded most of the show from his backyard. In the late 1980s, he began a gardening show for a Tulsa CBS station.

His shows have included topics familiar to the average home gardener, such as lawn care, growing vegetables, pruning trees and instilling an interest in gardening in young people, in an informative yet light and irreverent style. Nearly all of his pre-2000 shows were filmed on his Tulsa property and James produced most of the show’s content himself. Later episodes usually included one or more segments by a respected lawn and garden expert and devoted more attention to organic gardening and topics that were more upscale or technical. All episodes of “Gardening by the Yard” made in 2000 or later were produced by Screaming Flea Productions.

James’ gardening career began in 1978, when he and his wife, Carrie, purchased their first home. As an undergraduate, he studied botany, plant physiology and plant pathology. He obtained his master-gardener certification in 1983. They have three children.

In addition to his work on “Gardening by the Yard,” James has hosted numerous HGTV specials, including a “Rose Parade,” as well as a short-lived cooking show, “Paul James’ Homegrown Cooking,” that ran from 1998 to 2000.

James often visits the “Hollywood Garden Club” in Florida, where he spends much of his time contributing to the gardens there.

When he’s not in the garden, James enjoys time in the kitchen, fishing his favorite trout stream, playing guitar, hanging out with his kids, practicing Tae Kwon Do and working on his third-degree black belt.

For 14 years before entering the world of television, he owned and operated a corporate communications company that specialized in corporate comedy.

Everyone is invited to attend the Dirt Friends Festival and “bring all your gardening questions for the guy who knows how to make gardening fun.” There will be a $10 admission fee.

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