The host of the ABC’s Gardening Australia, Costa Georgiadis, is instantly recognisable for his abundant facial hair. It’s his trademark, along with an infectious, almost evangelical approach to the joys of gardening.
This passion for gardening should come as no surprise. It runs in Georgiadis’ blood. His Greek grandfather was a market gardener and taught him the value of fresh produce and seasonality.
“For my grandparents, life was about food. Not price, quality. There wasn’t that delineation … They wanted the best because it was the best it could be. Those eggplants [were the] best because of how they were grown and how they taste,” Georgiadis tells The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I feel like that set a benchmark in how I look at stuff. The standard was on the fork, that’s the ultimate litmus test.”
Georgiadis follows a rich Greek tradition, taking a leaf out of Aristotle and Plato’s book. There’s philosophy galore in nature – evolution, metamorphosis and the cycle of life is always front and centre.
Of course, he channels this interest in the philosophical and soul-nourishing side of gardening into his hosting duties at Gardening Australia and it seems to be paying off.
Just last year, Georgiadis won the silver Logie for best presenter and the show won most popular program.
This year, in the period from January to April, the show’s ratings increased 25 percent, with an average audience of 1.18 million. There was a 50 percent increase in traffic to the show’s website and a surge on social media.
But Georgiadis says this has nothing to do with him. He puts it down to the coronavirus pandemic shining a spotlight on the garden once again.
“When you start to do a bit of gardening, it changes your timeline,” Georgiadis explains.
“You lose time when you go out in the garden, but then you make time because you think you’ll only go out for five minutes, and then you spend 55 minutes.
“That’s probably, during what’s been an incredibly difficult year from literally day one, with the bushfires and then for some people it was floods, and then for all of us it was COVID, why more people have realised that the garden does more than just frame the view.”
Perhaps that’s why he’s known for having such a positive attitude all the time? Because of all the hours he spends in his own garden?
“I’m like, ‘That’s all we’ve got! You’ve got to be positive!’ You can read the big picture and be critical and aware of and conscious of all this other theatre, but you can’t let that theatre get you down,” he concludes.