One Chance to Meet Paul James, the Gardener Guy

— Written By and last updated by Sarah Roberson
Paul James in coming! That has been the buzz around the Extension office for months now and it is time you know about it. Mark your calendar for January 25, 2014. 
Shortly after I moved to Pitt County, 18 years ago, I started getting the HGTV channel on cable in the area of the county I lived. Almost immediately one of my favorite shows on that channel was “Gardening by the Yard” and featured a funny, older guy named Paul James. He called himself the Gardener Guy. What I think was most memorable about his shows was they were practical, funny, and mostly about gardening experiences or projects he did in his own yard. Thinking back, maybe that is where some of my ideas about teaching and demonstrating gardening came from. It might have even been part of the inspiration (although I did not know it at the time) for giving the Pitt County Arboretum the motto of “Gardening You Can Do”. I always appreciated Paul’s candor in dealing with his own gardening problems and projects. It was great to hear someone on TV talking about real life problems that we all deal with instead of just promoting some new plant that few of us could get or grow anyway. It was also fun to see him working in a real garden and not a studio set or staged garden, much like it is fun to see Bryce Lane on his show “In the Garden” when he does spots at his garden. 
Paul James hosted the “Gardening by the Yard” show from 1996 to 2009. During that time he covered everything from ants to zinnias related to gardening. He started gardening in 1978 and although he studied botany, plant physiology, and plant pathology in college, he says most of his knowledge has come from a degree in garden trial and error. I think we all have gained gardening knowledge that way. Before the gardening show, Paul owned a corporate communication company that focused on corporate comedy…no wonder he was so funny on the show. He does have a tie in with Cooperative Extension in that he received his Master Gardener certification in Oklahoma in 1983. 
At this point, if you are still with me reading this, you might be wondering “So what?” The reason I have given you all this background information is that since Gardening by the Yard stopped in 2009, Paul has done a few gardening related events like hosting the HGTV coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California and serving as the spokesperson for National Public Garden Day through the American Public Gardens Association that I know of. He rarely does any public speaking and does not advertise it. That is why I have written this, to let you know that January 25, 2014 may be your only chance to see Paul James, the Gardener Guy, in person and talk to him about gardening…especially in eastern NC. 
You are invited to join the Pitt County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, Friends of the Pitt County Arboretum, and I as we present a fun Question and Answer session with gardening celebrity, Paul James, the Gardener Guy. He is one of the best advocates for making gardening fun and keeping it simple and easy for everyone to enjoy. He will be with us in Greenville on January 25, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the J.H. Rose High School Performing Arts Center, located at 600 W. Arlington Boulevard, Greenville, NC 27834. Starting at 9 a.m. our event sponsors will have displays and information set up about their businesses so you can visit and learn more about what they have to offer gardeners. The sponsors for the event are Anderson Pine Straw and Mulch, Burger King (of Williamston, Ahoskie, Windsor, Washington, and Chocowinity), Carolina Seasons Nursery, CD Rouse and Company, East Coast Equipment, Little’s Nursery, Rain Bird, and Wild Birds Unlimited. Tickets for the event are $20 for the general public in advance, $15 for Friends of the Pitt County Arboretum in advance, and $30 for everyone at the door on January 25, 2014. All proceeds benefit the Pitt County Arboretum. Tickets are available at the Pitt County Extension Office located at 403 Government Circle, Greenville, NC 27834 or at Wild Birds Unlimited located at 518 Greenville Boulevard SE, Greenville, NC 27858. If you have any questions about the event call the Pitt County Extension Office at 252-902-1709. 
If you have gardening questions this winter, the Master Gardeners will be in the office on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. from now until February. You can leave a message at any time by calling 252-902-1705 or email questions to Have a great day in the garden!