Thursday, August 23, 2012

Garden Images in the Media - Part 4: Rosemary & Thyme (2003-2006)

To readers from the UK this will probably be a bit of an old hat, since the show in question aired there a quite number of years back, but after coming across it about a week ago and watching a number of episodes I decided I had to post about it anyway. Rosemary & Thyme is a British murder mystery series that was produced between 2003 and 2006 and is essentially garden-themed. Pam Ferris and Felicity Kendal star as Laura Thyme and Rosemary Boxer, two middle-aged women who decide to start a gardening business together after one is left by her husband and the other loses her position as a university lecturer in plant pathology. In each episode a garden project for which they have been hired leads them to witness or discover a murder or series of murders and sometimes other crimes which they then proceed to solve. The show has a bit of the feel of Murder, She Wrote, both in the older, down-to-earth female protagonists and in the implausible conceit that they appear to accidentally hit upon violent crime wherever they tread. While perhaps not being as riveting as other murder mysteries or crime procedurals, I think it is quite fun to watch. Luckily, all episodes are available on YouTube, beginning with the pilot:

Virtually every episode features lavish gardens as backdrops, with filming often having taken place at real-life historic gardens such Serre de la Madone in Menton, France, or the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Storylines also often touch on various aspects of garden history, from Moorish gardens in Spain to pineapple growing in Victorian England. I also appreciate that accurate scientific and common plant names are used in the show and only a small amount of fake plants appears to have been used in set and prop design. The only thing that I find really odd is that every episode - except perhaps for those set in southern France, Italy, and Spain - appears to have been shot in spring or early summer, with seasonal flowers daffodils, tulip magnolias, cherry blossoms and the like often prominent in the background. While that is a very pretty season for most gardens, it does become a bit monotonous.


  1. The husband and I just started watching this a week or so ago, and so far I'm finding it tough to keep up with all the characters in any given episode -- they don't recur (at least, not as far as we've gotten), and there are usually several new people whose names are all given in rapid succession, so if you don't catch them all the first time, you're sort of stuck trying to figure it out when they're talking the case over among themselves. It's not a flaw, exactly, just something that I'm having trouble getting used to.

    On the other hand, I really rarely care about the murder in the first place. For me, the main fun of the show is not watching them solve a murder, or trying to solve it myself before they do, but watching the two of them get all up in everybody's business all the time, and all the sneaking around and "who, me? I'm just an innocent middle-aged woman gardener" looks. If they had bad intentions, it'd be no fun to watch, but since we know that they're good people and we want them to succeed, it's fun to watch them basically snoop on and gossip about everybody.

    1. I totally agree that it is difficult to keep track of all the different characters introduced in each episode. They also have a tendency not to explain all the minor riddles - such as how a particular aspect of the crime had been carried out - once they find the culprit, sometimes more or less by accident.


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