Everyday Eden: A Potted History of the Suburban Garden

Everyday Eden: A Potted History of the Suburban Garden


For the working and lower middle classes fleeing cramped inner-city life, suburbia was a patch of paradise. For intellectuals such as HG Wells, Graham Greene and George Orwell it was where dreams went to die. For 80 per cent of the English, it’s now home.

Presenter Michael Collins chronicles the changing and surprisingly contentious landscape of the suburbs. The first – Hampstead Garden Suburb – was a social experiment with rules about hedge height and when to hang out washing.

During the Second World War, home owners dutifully dug up their lawns and sprouted cabbages, while in the 70s the new “Surbiton Class” became the butt of the joke in The Good Life.


Writer and historian Michael Collins examines the suburban garden as he travels around south London from Bexley to Bromley, and also visits Ingress Park in Kent, to explore what the horticultural havens mean to society. He begins by looking at the 1930s and how a cigarette company cashed in on the public's green-fingered ambitions by offering cards with tips on them, before revealing how flowers were sacrificed for crops during the wars. He then examines their transformation in the 1970s, due to the rise of garden centres, and how some 21st-century lawns are being made from artificial grass.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Collins
Director Claire Whalley
Executive Producer Archie Baron
Producer Claire Whalley