Gardening hero - Alan Titchmarsh

Gardener, writer and television presenter, Alan Titchmarsh, 71, has most recently been on our screens presenting ITV’s ‘Love Your Garden’ and ‘Spring into Summer’.  Married to Alison for 46 years, Alan has two daughters and four grandchildren whom he loves spending time with.

Here are five things you may not know about one of the nation’s favourite gardeners:

1.  A plumber’s son from Ilkley, Yorkshire, Alan was restless in the classroom and left school at 15 with one O’Level in art to work as an apprentice gardener with the local council, before studying horticulture at Kew Gardens.  After that came a stint in book publishing and a period at Amateur Gardening before he moved into television, eventually presenting BBC’s Gardener’s World and its coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

2.  It was in the late 90s while presenting the hugely popular gardening make-over show Ground Force, that he acquired a sex symbol status, apparently becoming the most-kissed waxwork at Madame Tussauds.  ‘I’ve probably come out the other side of that sex symbol stuff.  I don’t get as many fan letters any more,’ he told The Times.

3.  Alan threw himself into gardening his own four acres of Hampshire land during lockdown.  In fact, in the process of tending to his beautiful topiary, roses, lawns and three acres of wildflower meadow, he reportedly lost a stone in weight.  The family moved to his grade II listed Georgian farmhouse in 2002 after leaving Barleywood, the set of Gardeners’ World for seven years.  They also own a coastal home, near Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

4.  Like most gardeners, all the kneeling and bending has taken its toll on his back and knees, but Alan says it’s nothing a stiff gin and tonic doesn’t sort out.  ‘I read the dangerous years for alcohol consumption are between 40 and 60 and thought, ‘Great! I’m out the other side,’ he’s reported as saying.

5.  Alan was awarded an MBE for services to horticulture and broadcasting.  But it’s not all been about horticulture: during his wide-ranging career he’s also presented shows such as Songs of Praise and written many best-selling novels – he was encouraged by Jilly Cooper but says his books are less steamy!