Gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh gives readers a tour of his own private plot in his horticultural memoir, My Secret Garden - plus, find out what else needs doing in the garden this week.
His old back garden at Barleywood was shared with millions of viewers every week when he was the frontman on BBC Gardeners’ World - but it’s taken 10 years for him to finally reveal his current garden to fans.
A decade after moving a stone’s throw from Barleywood to his current Hampshire home, a large Georgian farmhouse set in four acres, he finally feels ready to let the public see how he has transformed the garden, through the pages of his new book, My Secret Garden.
“It’s difficult when you’ve done a garden like this to keep it to yourself,” Titchmarsh reflects.
“I didn’t want to open it up and have the pressure of folk coming in but people kept saying, ‘Do you bother with your garden now it’s not on the telly?’ Well, this is proof that I do.”
Years of hard labour have gone into achieving his private paradise, which features a mass of decorative borders, a wildflower meadow, a hornbeam avenue and a wildlife pond, and these days he just has two people to help him.
Between them, they also maintain the 35 acres of meadow and woodland which Titchmarsh retained after selling Barleywood, which he turned into a nature reserve.
“I’ll never let the TV cameras into my private garden,” he says now.
“I would never go to Alison (his wife) and say, ‘Look, can we just do one programme?’ because we made the decision not to. I’m blissfully happy being there on my own with the family.
“Sitting in my garden, looking out, it reassures me that in the great scheme of things, life goes on, the seasons are all powerful and we, in a way, are governed by nature and we should respect it and work with it.”
The book is dedicated to Titchmarsh’s nine-month-old grandson, Hugo, who’s already been introduced to the garden, Titchmarsh smiles.
He says he’s put a big fence up around the pond in anticipation of Hugo toddling towards it.
“I don’t want to force him into gardening but if he’s in and among it all the time, he’ll grow up thinking that’s the way it is and it’ll become second nature to him.”