The secret gardener - Julie Walters

Julie Walters is one of our best-loved actresses, but she is just as happy pottering about in the garden as treading the boards these days.  She even celebrated being made a Dame by weeding her garden!

‘I like being at home, I’ve become a lazy old bugger,’ she said in an interview for the Mirror.  ‘I am more interested in my tomatoes half the time . . . and my raised beds, which are like a jungle now.’

Home for Julie is a working organic farm in Plaistow West Sussex, which she shares with her husband, Grant Roffey and now grown up daughter Maisie.  They have livestock, as well as a vegetable patch.  Julie relishes her rural life working on the farm and enjoying the countryside.  ‘I grow vegetables and I walk with friends,’ she says.

The couple are also active members of the local Sussex community.  ‘We have a couple of stalls in the local town and sell to the local hotels,’ she says.

Julie relishes her life in the countryside away from the spotlight.  ‘I enjoy having two personas, two identities,’ she once said.  She can be a luvvie in a BAFTA gown one minute and wear muddy trousers the next. She really does have the best of both worlds.

….look out for Julie playing housekeeper Mrs Medlock in the new adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel The Secret Garden.  The garden of the novel is described as, ‘The sweetest, most mysterious place anyone can imagine,’ and was based on the romantic garden in Great Maytham Hall in Kent where Frances lived.  It had roses around doorways and wisteria tumbled over the walls and she is said to have loved it more than anything else on earth.

This adaptation is set just after the Second World War and unlike the Edwardian walled garden of the novel, the film director has chosen to recreate a fantasy world from a child’s imagination by using a combination of gardens, from woods to sub-tropical dells.  Gardens that feature in the film include the National Trust’s Bodnant Garden in Wales and Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire as well as Woodhall Estate, Hertfordshire; Trebah Gardens, Cornwall; Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean and Helmsley Walled Garden in North Yorkshire.  The Secret Garden with its themes of how gardens have the power to restore health has great resonance with us today and reminds us yet again of the benefits of nature.