Alan Titchmarsh: Nobody is more committed to gardens than King Charles III
To celebrate the launch of his new book, The Gardeners' Almanac, we asked Alan Titchmarsh about his favourite month, how he feels about the future and the new King.
We caught up with veteran broadcaster and gardener Alan Titchmarsh, who has written a new book, The Gardener's Almanac.
What prompted you to write the The Gardener's Almanac?
I wrote the Almanac because I enjoy 'dipping' books which contain scraps of this and that as well as nuggets of information. It struck me that a gardener's Almanac would make the perfect bedside book, with snippets each month about wildlife, music, weather, sunrise and sunset, a book to read and a bird and a wildflower for each month. It's a sort of commonplace book – and there are tips at the end of each month on what should – and should not – be done in the garden!
Do you have a favourite month and least favourite one – and has it changed since writing The Gardener's Almanac?
My birthday is in May and I have always loved that month. It is the start of spring proper, of bluebells and fresh green leaves. February takes the biscuit when it comes to testing my patience. Winter has going on so long and the days are still short. But then we do have snowdrops to cheer us.
Do you feel as if some people have lost touch with the seasons?
It is so easy to lose touch with the seasons in town and city. Only day length seems to change – and that imperceptibly. The countryside – and gardens – offer a greater barometer of the changes in wildlife activity and plant growth. Keeping in touch with nature helps me retain a sense of perspective and proportion in what seems to me to be an increasingly angry world.
You have long been passionate about gardening organically and for wildlife – do you feel the tide is turning in terms of people taking this on board?
I think folk are much more in tune with where their food has come from, what it has cost in terms of air miles and just what has been involved in its production. I've been an organic gardener for more than forty years, but I also think that buying local produce is important, too, as well as having a garden where wildlife thrives. We share our patch of earth with our native flora and fauna as well as a host of glorious plants from other countries. There should be room for all of them in a garden.
Lockdown created thousands more gardeners. How do we keep them interested?
I am hopeful that the benefits to health and well-being that were experienced during lockdown will keep people engaged with their gardens. In a world where news items seem ever more shrill and doom laden, keeping in touch with the true reality of a piece of earth is more vital than ever.
You know King Charles well. What can you tell us about the “Gardener King”?
I know of nobody more committed to the natural world, and gardens, than The King. His commitment is extraordinary and his capacity for work is unmatched by anyone I know. He has a hard act to to follow but I am quite sure that his drive, dedication and tenacity will see him through.
What inspires or excites you these days?
I am still childishly excited by the changing seasons and the next opportunity to be offered by my garden, whether it is sowing seeds for summer, planting spring bulbs in autumn, or even standing behind a mower and letting my imagination run wild. Creating beautiful views, vistas, borders – and topiary – gives me enormous pleasure.
What plants would you not be without?
Where do I start? Clipped yews, Japanese maples, hostas, ferns, pelargoniums (especially the scented-leaf types), hardy geraniums, shrub roses, and in the meadow, cowslips, field scabious, knapweed and marjoram. Then there are sweet peas, peonies... the list goes on.
Are you positive about the future (of the planet)?
I remain determinedly positive. We have a duty to the landscape, certainly, even the patch we call a garden, but it should not be onerous. I know of no greater privilege than to be able to be the steward of a piece of earth and to hand it on in better condition than it was when I inherited it. I have spent my life persuading others to do the same, and I've seen much that makes me rejoice.
You’re very busy with a portfolio career. Is there anything you’d still love to do?
I write novels as well as books about gardening and the countryside. I would dearly love to see one or more of them – there are twelve so far – made into a film or a TV series. There's still time!
The Gardener’s Almanac by Alan Titchmarsh is published by Hodder & Stoughton, out 27th October 2022, £14.99
Veronica Peerless is a trained horticulturalist and garden designer.
Special Christmas offer- Save over 50% when you subscribe
Special subscription offer:
- Save 51%- £34.99 every 13 issues by Direct Debit
- The perfect Christmas gift for friends, family or to keep for yourself!
- Never miss an issue of your favourite magazine
- Free UK delivery- direct to your door *Available to UK residents only