As host of the popular PBS series "Victory Garden," Michael Weishan has one of the greenest thumbs to sprout in Milwaukee. He returns to his hometown the week of July 6 to shoot an episode of the show at a Bayside home.
Weishan, 40, grew up on the South Side and graduated from Rufus King High School in 1982. He earned a degree in classics and romance languages from Harvard University, wrote two books and hosted a radio show. Currently, he is the gardening editor for "Country Living" magazine and in his third year as host of the show.
But mostly, Weishan's a down-to-earth guy who just wants to get his hands dirty.
"I almost forgot about this," he said before the phone interview. "I was about to go out and weed the irises."
As host of "Victory Garden," Weishan gets to live "on the set," in an 1852 farmhouse west of Boston. He is surrounded by two acres of gardens and a barnyard of animals, including a horse, dog and ducks. Although he lives in a picture-perfect setting, he is excited to return to Milwaukee.
"I've wanted to do a show in the Midwest for a long time," he says.
The Bayside ranch home will receive a new backyard, created by Dennis Buettner of Villa Terrace fame.
"Victory Garden" is in its 29th season. It is the longest running garden show of all time and the most popular gardening show in the country. Weishan is the fourth host.
"I'm like the fourth doctor on 'Dr. Who,'" he jokes.
Weishan believes the show survives because it keeps reinventing itself. He says recently the focus of the program has been on practical gardening so that viewers can apply what they see in their own back yards.
"This is rare," he says. "Usually people are pushing their own agendas ... whereas we try to provide unbiased information."
Unlike other shows (such as TLC's "Trading Spaces") that redecorate yards and rooms in a short period of time, the mission of "Victory Garden" is to create something that will be truly appreciated by the homeowner.
"We have no interest in building something that looks good for a day or even for just a season," he says.
Weishan sums up Wisconsin gardening in six words: cold winters, hot summers, tough plants. But despite challenges, he says even those with the brownest thumbs can create great gardens.
"I always say 'believe and do.' If you don't want to, that's fine, but we're here to say that you can," he says.
The Milwaukee show airs Friday, Sept. 10 at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7 a.m. on public television.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.