Colin Stafford Johnson

Mayo based presenter with new RTÉ wildlife series

RENOWNED Irish wildlife presenter Colin Stafford Johnson returns to the screens in new RTÉ series The Wild Gardener, which begins this evening on RTÉ One at 8 p.m.

The two-part show, which will air it's second episode next Friday, sees Colin, who has been living in Westport for the past 18 years, return to his childhood garden in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, which he inherited before Covid, and turn it into a sanctuary for the native plants and animals which are now in a fight for survival in Ireland.

Colin is the son of Ireland's first TV gardener Barney Johnson, who was a mainstay on RTÉ and their family business was a garden centre where Colin helped his Dad spray and mow everything into oblivion. He has since become one of the world's leading wildlife cameramen specialising in tigers in India and of course saw what was happening to the world's wildlife.

Colin has won the top awards internationally for his work and has presented many series on RTÉ most recently on the wildlife of Cuba.

Filmed over two years, The Wild Gardner he digged ponds, cleared brambles, planted woodland, and sows meadows as he tries to figure out how best to lure the creatures from his youth back.

“The show has been on mind for a long time,” explains Colin. “When I was growing up, Ireland was full of meadows but a lot of the wildness has dissappeared. I hope this empowers people to do something in their own gardens.”

The Covid pandemic saw countless people reconnect with their garden and locality and the wild birds and creatures that live there, and Colin is someone with a fascinating take on what we should do with our gardens into the future i.e. 'lose those lawns', 'stop spraying' and let nature back in so you and your kids can both enjoy it and do some real good.

“I've been amazed by the resilience of nature. Within hours of filling the new ponds, the place filled up with mating damselflies and dragonflies.

“Every stage of this is interesting over the two years, with the whole place coming alive.”

With wildlife under massive pressure in Ireland and worldwide, the show will be an important watch for anyone with an interest in our local wildlife.

'The Wild Gardener' begins tonight at 8 p.m. on RTÉ One, with the second part next Friday.