The Magic Garden was a locally-produced half-hour children's show that aired weekdays on WPIX in New York City from 1972 to 1984 and was also syndicated to other parts of the country. The show starred co-hosts Carole Demas and Paula Janis, who sang and played guitar throughout the program, which took place on a studio set decorated like a "magic garden." The Magic Garden set included a Magic Tree with two tree swings, as well as a barn, a stone path, and a giggling bed of flowers called the "The Chuckle Patch," that grew at the foot of the Magic Tree. There were also two puppet characters on the show -- Sherlock, a mischievous pink squirrel, and Flap, a happy, colorful duck-like bird.
Each half-hour episode of the show included songs, games, jokes, stories, and life lessons. At some point in the show, one of the co-hosts would pluck a leaf from the Chuckle Patch and ask the other co-host a simple joke question that was written on one side of the leaf. When the other co-host couldn't answer the question, she would then turn the leaf over and read the punch-line answer written on the other side. There was also a "Story Box" that provided the hosts with costumes and props for acting out stories on each show.
Every episode of The Magic Garden was infused with music, from the show's introduction to its close and during the transitions between each segment of the program, as Carole and Paula sang simple folk-music-like songs and played guitar. With their guitars, long hair, and bell-bottom pants, Carole and Paula brought a distinctly folk/hippie 1970's look and sensibility to this children's show. Like the female hosts of such earlier children's shows as Ding Dong School and Romper Room, Carole and Paula had been school teachers, and they seemed to be natural performers with an ease in front of the camera and an ability to connect directly with their young viewers. They also released several albums of their music and developed a live show that they took on tour throughout the country.
Originating in the biggest television market in the country, The Magic Garden had a simplicity and sweetness that drew a large and enthusiastic audience of children, parents, and grandparents, many of whom still remember the show fondly. The Magic Garden wasn't frenetic like some other children's shows at the time but instead presented its viewers with a gently-paced selection of lovely songs and child-friendly jokes that appealed to both kids and adults.
For those of you who want to experience or re-experience the The Magic Garden for yourself, try Carole and Paula in the Magic Garden, a 2-DVD set that also includes a bonus CD with 6 of Carole and Paula's songs.