Jamie Durie is a qualified horticulturist and landscape designer and founder of the international award-winning design company PATIO Landscape Architecture and Design. He has authored five books, PATIO—Garden Design and Inspiration, The Outdoor Room, The Source Book, Outdoor Kids, and Inspired. Two of these titles are released under his own publishing company, Jamie Durie Publishing.
Jamie is undoubtedly one of Australia's most recognizable talents, having hosted many of Australia's top-rated programs including Backyard Blitz, The Block, Torvill and Dean's Dancing on Ice, and Skating on Thin Ice. However, it was in his role as host of the television series Backyard Blitz where he first captured and inspired the imagination of the Australian public, making gardening "hip" again. The successful garden makeover show received six consecutive Logie Awards for Most Popular Lifestyle Program.
Born in Manly, North Sydney, Jamie spent most of his childhood in the Western Australian outback mining town of Tom Price. With his mother and grandmother both Sri Lankan (born in Galle and Kandy respectively), he has inherited a love of the Sri Lankan culture and lifestyle. Like his father, and all Australians, he loves the outdoors and is passionate about nature and creating the ultimate outdoor living space. His inspiration comes from the vast natural beauty of the Australian landscape, years of extensive international travel, and his passion for protecting the environment. He successfully combines these raw elements to create his own unique style in his garden designs and has truly pioneered the concept of "The Outdoor Room."
A best-selling author, publisher, and television host, Jamie also designs his own successful line of innovative and fashionable gardening and outdoor living merchandised product, PATIO by Jamie Durie. This product line is available exclusively through Australia and New Zealand retailing giant Kmart.
An advocate for preserving our natural surroundings and environmental future, Jamie is an ambassador for Planet Ark's National Tree Day and sits on the board of the Royal Botanic Gardens Foundation in Sydney.
Growing up on a farm instilled in Michel Nischan a deep appreciation for sustainable agriculture and those who work the land. Today, in addition to his role as chef and owner of Dressing Room—A Homegrown Restaurant, located on the grounds of the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut, Michel returns for a second season as The Victory Garden's resident chef.
It was through his advocacy for a more healthful, organic, and sustainable food future that Michel came to know Paul Newman's daughter, Nell, the driving force behind the creation of the organic division of Newman's Own® products. When Nell Newman learned of her father's plans to become involved in a restaurant she introduced him to Michel. Newman and Michel found their beliefs on food, family, and community to be remarkably aligned, and Dressing Room evolved as a place where their shared values could have a common home and expression.
In keeping with their altruistic natures, a portion of Dressing Room's proceeds are used to support the adjacent Westport Country Playhouse, the establishment of culinary scholarships and apprentice programs for inner-city children and a community-based edible mentorship program. In addition, Newman and Michel are the impetus for the Westport Farmers Market, the town's first greenmarket open every Thursday from June through October. Newman and Michel were spotlighted in the "Person of the Week" segment on the November 24 broadcast of ABC World News with Charles Gibson for their community outreach efforts with Dressing Room and other planned activities.
Michel is credited with creating a cuisine of well-being, focused on pure, local, organic ingredients and intense flavors, without the use of highly processed, overly indulgent elements. The inspiration to explore cooking for well-being began in 1994 when his five-year-old son Chris was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. "Chris' illness made me realize that floating on foie gras and bathing in butter might not be in the best interest of my customers," said Michel.
Michel introduced his groundbreaking new cuisine in 1997 at Heartbeat restaurant in Midtown Manhattan's W Hotel, and was immediately propelled to the forefront of New York's culinary scene. Since then, he has continued to raise the bar for delicious and healthful cooking and is lauded for his dedication to organics, sustainability, and cultural food preservation.
After years of focusing on healthy, sustainable and culturally significant cooking causes, Michel decided to put his methods down on paper, writing two well-received cookbooks, Homegrown Pure and Simple: Great Healthy Food from Garden to Table and Taste Pure and Simple: Irresistible Recipes for Good Food and Good Health. Taste was listed as a bestseller in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and won a 2004 James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award. The Victory Garden's "Homegrown" segments featuring Michel won a 2008 James Beard Foundation Media Award.
Michel resides in Fairfield, Connecticut, with his wife, Lori, and their five children.
Paul Epsom brings a delightful blend of humor and expertise as gardening correspondent on The Victory Garden, providing viewers with indispensable advice and gardening guidance. More than a traditional English gardener, Paul's love of gardening combined with his creative energy creates segments that appeal to amateur and experienced gardeners alike.
In addition to The Victory Garden, Paul has been featured on more than 400 episodes of Home and Backyard, a successful television program on Pennsylvania's ABC affiliate WNEP. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, Epsom won Garden Globe awards for his work as an on-air gardening correspondent. The award is given by the Garden Writer's Association for exceptional work in gardening in the media. In 2006, he received the Gold Award for Best Talent on Air and in 2007 he collected a silver award for a local TV gardening special.
Much of Paul's childhood was spent in the garden. As the son of a very keen gardener and an apprentice for Shaftesbury Society School, Paul has worked as both a landscaper and a gardener. In addition, Paul owns and runs Greystone Gardens, a specialized garden center nestled in the heart of scenic Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.
Born in London, England, Paul attended Warwick University and London University. He holds a joint honors degree in psychology and post-graduate studies in education, and has taught in public and private schools in both England and the US. A longtime resident of the US., Paul lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, two sons, and Irish terrier.
Sissy joined The Victory Garden as Lifestyle co-host in the program’s 30th anniversary season. A veteran both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, Sissy brings unrestrained curiosity and her trademark creative energy to segments that bring the outdoors into the home. Sissy emphasizes the connection between the garden and the table, working with the country’s top chefs to serve up recipes that use the freshest of produce. She also puts her talents to work crafting ideas to make the most of every aspect of the garden and show you how to decorate and entertain—using what you grow.
Sissy joined The Victory Garden with a wealth of experience, most recently serving the Lillian Vernon Corporation as the company’s lifestyle editor and spokesperson. In collaboration with NBCUniversal Digital Studios, Sissy created A Big Life with Sissy Biggers for msn.com, which treats viewers to weekly lifestyle, travel, entertaining, cooking, and family adventures. During her career, she was anchor of Live from Queens, and co-host of Biggers & Summers with Marc Summers, both on Lifetime; and host and consulting producer of the popular Ready Set Cook! on The Food Network. Sissy has also contributed her on-air talents to NBC’s Later Today Show, the Today Show, the Rosie O’Donnell Show, CBS’ The Early Show; and other programs including Weekend Today, The Other Half, The Christopher Lowell Show, The View, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Extra!, Extreme Makeover, and Living it up with Ali & Jack.
Her behind-the-scenes experience includes working in comedy production for ABC and HBO; and Director of Late Night and Specials Programming for NBC where she worked on such classic programs as Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman. She was also the consulting producer of the James Beard Award-winning special, Food Trip with Todd English, which sent her to Tokyo to produce the series pilot episode.
Sissy, her husband, Kelsey and their two daughters, Sarah and Lucy, live in Connecticut where she is a dedicated community volunteer, home cook and energetic hostess. Sissy received her degree in English and French literature at Columbia University’s Barnard College. Through her company, Big Sis Productions, Sissy is a consulting producer for lifestyle television and creates broadcast media messaging for television, radio, and live events representing many national brands, including Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, the National PTA, AOL Time-Warner, General Mills, and the 3M Company. As an event-marketing producer and host, she appears annually at the Food & Wine Magazine annual Classic Cook-Off in Aspen, Colorado.
Many viewers would be surprised to know that for more than 20 years Kip Anderson has been behind the scenes working his magic to create the exquisite Victory Garden property. More surprising is that Anderson does not have a formal degree in horticulture. His extensive knowledge has grown over the years through hard work and long days in the garden. Along the way, he’s applied his personal touch to promising new trends.
Kip’s formal education is in math and science. He began his studies at Wesleyan University, but after two and half years, headed west. It was there -- homesteading in the mountains of Arizona -- that he began to acquire his broad horticultural experience. In 1980, Anderson returned to the Northeast where he worked as a freelance carpenter, while completing his degree in math and science at Harvard University Extension. He graduated in 1988.
Since 2003, Kip has been writing poems, and nearly 200 have been accepted for publication in dozens of print and online journals, including Kip’s Maintenance Blog. Watch for a new poem in solstice and equinox months!
Residing in a town west of Boston, Kip lives with his wife and two children, one a dancer and the other an aspiring athlete. He likes plants, his friends, philosophical conundrums, and single malt Scotch whisky after a hard day in the garden.
Dean Marsico and Derek Stearns
”The Stone Guys”
Dean Marsico and Derek Stearns are cousins and stone craftsmen from the greater Boston area of Massachusetts. The duo grew up under the leadership of Arthur Stearns, father of Derek, uncle of Dean, and a master in the stone trade. At young ages, both Dean and Derek developed strong work ethics, which set the stage for the stonework they’ve completed and fine-tuned over the last 25 years in the masonry business. They offer a variety of options to their clients including brickwork, stucco, cultured stone, concrete, and the specialized art of hand-cut stone.
In addition to Dean and Derek’s business, they hold training workshops at the Plymouth Quarries in Hingham, Massachusetts, where they teach homeowners how to create quality stone-scapes and other projects to beautify their homes. Dean and Derek believe that everyone has the ability to do stonework and their goal is to equip people with the knowledge and confidence to tackle all levels of stonework. Although they may banter and kid each other on the job, make no mistake that their relationship and masonry skills are rock solid. You can watch Dean and Derek create these amazing stone-scapes as they co-host DIY Network’s Rock Solid.
As guests on The Victory Garden, Dean and Derek will teach viewers how to lay stone pavers, create a dry-laid garden wall, and more.
With over 25 years' experience in national productions and 17 years as a producer for WGBH-TV in Boston, Emmy-award-winning executive producer/director Laurie Donnelly brings an all new look, feel and spirit to the Emmy-award-winning PBS series The Victory Garden. Her production credits include several highly acclaimed "How-To" programs, including fitness specials with wellness guru Loretta La Roche, Motley Fool's money-making, life-changing special Hot off the Grill, and the on-air radio cooking special, From Julia's Kitchen with Julia Child.
Donnelly has produced 20 highly successful national fundraising specials; including two Emmy-nominated collaborations with director William Cosel: Peter, Paul and Mary: Lifelines, and Peter, Paul and Mommy. A third collaboration with William Cosel is a moving tribute to the international recording artist, John McDermott: A Time to Remember, which aired in March 2002. Other notable productions include WOOF IT'S A DOG'S LIFE! with Matthew Margolis, the long-running PBS series BodyWatch with host James Red Duke, and the PBS environmental series Earthkeeping with NPR's Ira Flatlow. Prior to working for WGBH, Donnelly served as producer for Dr. Timothy Johnson's nationally syndicated series, Faces of Medicine, Housecalls, and Healthbeat with the Boston ABC affiliate.
Donnelly is a Distinguished Alumna of Boston University, where she obtained her master's degree, while also completing coursework for a doctorate in community sociology, and received a four-year graduate fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health. Donnelly lives on an old historic farm in Duxbury, Massachusetts, with her husband, two kids, a cat and dog and her own vegetable garden.
Hilary Finkel Buxton
Hilary joined WGBH in 1994 and began her public television career working on PBS' venerable lifestyle series The Victory Garden, This Old House, and The New Yankee Workshop, under the direction of PBS' "How-To" creator, executive producer, and director Russell Morash. In 2002 Hilary began devoting her energy to producing The Victory Garden full-time, while also garnering an Emmy® nomination for her work on This Old House. During her tenure as producer, The Victory Garden was honored by the Banff World Television Awards (2006), won two Emmy® awards for Outstanding Single Camera Photography (2005, 2006), and received Garden Writers' Association of America recognition. Other national public television projects include Food Trip with Todd English; Simply Ming with chef Ming Tsai; Family Cooking: From the Blanchard's Kitchen, and The Bread Also Rises, a local production for WGBH. Working with Executive Producer Laurie Donnelly, Hilary also serves as consulting producer for the WGBH Lifestyle Unit's many presentations, promotions, and productions.
Prior to joining WGBH, Finkel gained extensive experience in the television industry working at a variety of New England media outlets. She received a bachelor of science degree in broadcasting and film in 1986 from Boston University.
Hilary lives in Massachusetts and loves to garden—when she can—with her husband Max and two-year-old son Samuel.