At the ABC building in Ultimo, Sydney, there’s a third floor terrace named after the broadcaster’s famed tea lady Dot Strong. Dot is said to be the gruff inspiration for the TV character Aunty Jack. They both would have approved of this newer arrival, a man with an enormous beard who tends a little herb and veggie garden there: the Australian treasure Costa Georgiadis.
Every so often, Costa can be spottedweeding or mulching the raised garden beds with a small crew of ABC staff in tow. Research has shown that tending plants can be hugely beneficial for mental health, stress alleviation and encouraging feelings of empowerment – so the Dot Strong garden is no doubt a welcome reprieve for the beleaguered team at Aunty.
Gardening Australia, the show that the relentlessly joyful Costa has helmed since 2012, turns 30 this year, and they’re celebrating with a 90-minute birthday special – which features the show’s hosts past and present (including Peter Cundall), a look at the typical Aussie backyard, and a deep investigation into the one and only Costa that promises, somewhat ominously, to “reveal more than you may want to see”.
Ahead of this, Costa has kindly offered to answer a selection of questions from Guardian Australia readers – whether your garden is a bush, a backyard, a beard (please don’t all ask questions about the beard), or an on-trend inner-city indoor jungle.