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Mucking in behind the scenes

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muckingin.jpgPEOPLE who work tirelessly in the community don't have time for housework or gardening, so when they are surprised by the Mucking In television team on their doorstep their first reaction is often embarrassment.

Tony Murrell has been landscape designer for the TV One programme for the past four years and says a nominee's initial awkwardness is because they don't want to be singled out, and then interviewed about the state of the property.

"My response is to reassure them," he says. "Often they say they don't know a lot about gardening but, because they are then absent for the two-and-a-half days, the education has to come from the volunteers who work in the garden.

"I educate the helpers and volunteers and the information gets back to the owners."

And, yes, the team really does complete the makeover in two days, with an extra half-day needed to take away debris and prepare the garden.

A common criticism is that the makeover gardens are over-planted which, Tony says, is for the benefit of television. "But, because we know the plants need space for the roots and air, we get the helpers to thin them afterwards and take them. They love it.

"I design the garden 100 per cent for the owners, coming up with a brush-strokes sketch brief.

"Then someone else does the detailed drawing, making sure we comply with things like council constraints."

A standing rule, Tony says, is that recipients of the garden makeover must not find out the Mucking In team is coming and if they find out, "we pull the pin".

"Once we found a great crop of marijuana in someone's garden. She was drying it in the living room and said she was growing it to educate her children.

"We said, 'your children aren't going to make it to Harvard on that' and pulled the pin."

How to nominate

THE people the Mucking In team is always looking for as recipients of a garden makeover are those who are exceptional within their community - they need to stand out in their generosity towards others, whether they know them or not. 

They are the people who go way beyond their family and friends in their kindness - it may be someone who does major voluntary work, or someone who tirelessly cares for people beyond what everyone else does. 

The person, or people, you have in mind must have no knowledge of what you are doing. If they are a member of your family, find someone else to nominate them. Mucking In only accepts nominations for individuals. 

The nomination is part of the TV programme, which requires good talent and interviews, so people must be willing to speak on camera to explain why the recipient is special, as do others who are willing to back up the nomination and volunteer during the makeover. 

If the nomination is picked out, a researcher will get in touch and take it from there. For more details, visit http://tvnz.co.nz/mucking-in.