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Garden Wise Guys Find Laughing Matters in ‘The Big Picture’

The local sustainable gardening gurus are ready to dish the dirt with tips and techniques in Sunday's milestone special.

When they're not cutting up on camera, Garden Wise Guys Billy Goodnick, left, and Owen Dell are right at home talking about sustainable gardening in the Firescape Demonstration Garden, 2411 Stanwood Drive at Mission Ridge Road.
When they’re not cutting up on camera, Garden Wise Guys Billy Goodnick, left, and Owen Dell are right at home talking about sustainable gardening in the Firescape Demonstration Garden, 2411 Stanwood Drive at Mission Ridge Road. (Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

The dynamic duo of the local sustainable gardening set, City TV 18’s Garden Wise Guys will be presenting their special, The Big Picture, at 9 p.m. Sunday.

“We reached 12 (episodes) and it seemed like a nice number,” said Owen Dell. He, and and co-Wise Guy Billy Goodnick, both licensed landscape architects, have been hosting half-hour long episodes of their homegrown TV gardening sit-com for several years now.

Their goal? First, to educate local gardeners in the way of the sustainable garden. Second, to see how much they can get away with on camera.

“We really have no sense of control or decency, so we’re willing to do just about anything and embarrass ourselves,” said Goodnick.

“We keep waiting for them to fire us but they haven’t yet,” Dell said.

With the patience and editing prowess of director and editor Christy Zwicke, the Wise Guys have managed to turn out 11 episodes — one every quarter — focusing on the different elements of sustainable gardening.

This isn’t your regular TV gardening show, though. Spoofing everything from film noir to cooking shows, the pair manage to get its point across, whether it be waterwise gardening or where to put your plants, while making it look fun, or at least funny, at the same time.

“We had a spoof on 60 Minutes, but we had to call it 27 and a Half Minutes because we only had half an hour,” said Dell.

After looking back on the last three years, he said, they realized it was time to put each of these topics in a bigger context, hence, The Big Picture. In this episode, they take on Siskel & Ebert with a touch of Mystery Science Theater, and review segments of their previous shows to give sustainable gardeners an idea of how it all ties together.

The show is clearly a labor of love, because, for one thing, they don’t get paid.

“They bought me a sandwich once,” said Dell.

“I’m the (Santa Barbara) city landscape architect so I just do it on company time,” added Goodnick.

There is a method to the madness, even if it seems like it’s mostly madness. According to Dell, author of the recent “Sustainable Gardening for Dummies, their shenanigans are part of an effort to engage people who may be interested in gardening, but not necessarily the ins and outs of sustainable gardening. At the heart of it all, the show is part of a local water conservation effort, funded by the city of Santa Barbara Public Works Department, the Goleta Water District and the Santa Barbara County Water Agency.

But that hasn’t stopped the pair from trying to capitalize on their local government channel fame.

“We’ve been trying to get groupies but it hasn’t worked,” said Dell.

“We want people to sell their homes, live communally and follow us on a bus wherever we speak,” said Goodnick. “Like the Grateful Dead.”

Garden Wise Guys airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on City TV-Channel 18 and 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays on Santa Barbara County Channel 20.

Click here for more information or click here to view archived episodes, visit

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