More Thalassa Cruso!

Those of you who read this column regularly know that I am a huge fan of 60s gardening guru Thalassa Cruso.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten a number of letters from various Thalassa fans, thanking me for my earlier efforts in bringing at least one her episodes back from extinction. (For my 2009 tribute to Thalassa, click here.) Frankly, my initial attempt at video restoration was a bit amateurish, with only OK sound and not terribly good picture quality, so with these latest viewer letters as my incentive, I decided to go back and have another crack at the tape we’d transferred to DVD a couple of years ago. I’d always known we had portions of three episodes, but my initial read was that they were merely fragmentary bits. Imagine my surprise, when after a lot of late night prodding and poking, I managed to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again, and restore all three half-hour shows! This time however, the results are much more professional: digital picture quality and stereo sound that goes a long way to restoring gardening’s grande dame to her former glory.  In the first restored episode, Starting From Scratch, Thalassa explains how little equipment is really needed to begin gardening indoors. In the second, Heirlooms from the Supermarket/10-Cent Store, she delves into the best way to grow a worthy indoor plant collection. The last episode features world renowned bonsai expert Connie Derderian teaching a dubious Thalassa how to create this Japanese art form.

So here, once again, may I present the indomitable, the inimitable, the one, the only Thalassa Cruso!

Starting From Scratch (1969)

Heirlooms from the Supermarket/10-Cent Store (1969)

And here’s the re-restored Bonsai from the show’s 1967 season.


More Thalassa Cruso! — 8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Thalassa Cruso Returns! | Old House, Old Garden

  2. I truly couldn’t believe my eyes, when on a whim last evening, I “Googled” Thalassa Cruso, and found your posting of these three restored episodes of her “Making Things Grow” show. I found my holy grail!

    As a child of twelve, television watching in my house included “The French Chef” and “Making Things Grow.” We rarely missed an episode, and I credit my interest in cooking and houseplants to these shows, techniques learned have served me well over the years (I still use dampened perlite for drainage when potting on a plant). I own all of Ms. Cruso’s books, including a pride-of-place volume that was signed by her, and they have been read and re-read year after year.

    Over the years, I have been in contact with WGBH, requesting having the shows released on video tape and then DVD. At first, the station responded with “no copies of the show exist,” followed by silence to further requests.

    With that history in mind, you can imagine the thrill that I experienced in seeing Thalassa once again on my screen – I watched all three episodes last night, and plan on viewing them again today.

    Many, many thanks for your hours of work in restoriing these videos.

  3. YES! I am the fellow who accused you of divinity when I saw the first uploaded episode on bonsai, so I don’t know what to call you after seeing these two (and in far better condition than the first)! I enjoyed the heck out of these and am keeping fingers and toes crossed that someday the entire series will be available. I had not checked back in for some time and spotted “More Thalassa Cruso!” in the sidebar and it made my week! Keep up the good fight with WGBH.

  4. Thanks so much! I didn’t think I would ever hear her marvelous voice again. Outside of my grandmother’s garden, Thalasso Cruso was the biggest influence on my gardening ventures. Wasn’t she fun on Johnny Carson. Would of loved her to have been an old aunt or grandmother. Thanks again.

  5. I remember her from her television show which I loved to watch! She was the Julia Child of gardening! I am so happy to find your website.

  6. Thank you! One of her books found me and I’ve been trying to find episodes of her show off and on for some time. I hope WGBH does something with the tapes before they degrade.

  7. Dear Micheal:

    It appears the copyright for the Making Things Grow programs is owned by the Cruso family?? Why doesn’t the Clan Cruso copy these programs to a modern digital format and put them ONLINE as a moneymaking proposition. Charge .99 cents per program or, say $35 for the whole 56 episode package?? The episodes could be marketed in tranches (slices). Revenue received for the sale of the first tranche can be used to finance the conversion costs for the second tranche, etc.

    How many people out there are interested in houseplants? How many people are dissatisfied with the current Victory Garden format? Many millions I should think.

    Another old WGBH series which deserves re-issue is “The Romagnolis’ Table” cooking show. Apparently Franco Romagnoli was the cameraman on some of The French Chef shows.

    WGBH may prefer that viewers like me watch their current offerings and not ol’ Thalassa or Franco. I say quality and content are key and the current stuff ought to be composted.

  8. I agree whole-heartedly. The problem is that while the family owns the copyright, WGBH owns the reels, and so far they have shown no interest in digitalizing them… And so it goes. The Victory Garden by the way is no longer on. The “brand” was lent to some silly cooking show.

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