A garden god’s very own Eden
From a magical meadow to a 100ft sledging hill, a rare tour of Alan Titchmarsh’s private Hampshire paradise
KNowN as the Nation’s Head Gardener, Alan Titchmarsh has, for decades, shared his passion for plants. Unlike the gardens of other TV presenters, however, his has remained private — until now.
This week, for the first time, he invited TV cameras into that secret garden for an ITV programme, Fifty Shades of Green with Alan Titchmarsh, to celebrate his half-acentury spent in gardens.
He introduced viewers to his 50 favourite horticultural spots around Britain, from London’s Kew Gardens, where he worked as a young gardener, to the glorious formal greenery of Sissinghurst Castle in Kent.
But he saved the best till last. No1 is Alan’s own garden at his Hampshire home, where he has lived for 17 years. Alan presented TV shows from his previous two gardens, but this time he was determined the space would be purely for him and his family, a place of solace and enjoyment. He says: ‘It’s only now that I’ve been happy to let the cameras in for the first time.’
Alan and wife Alison set about creating their dream garden when they bought the house in 2002. As he wrote in Gardeners’ world magazine in october, ‘it reflects my passion, my tastes, my love of beauty and wildlife’. This garden, he added, ‘mirrors my soul more than any other’.
There is a wildflower meadow, a pond teeming with wildlife, more formal water features, clipped hedges, a central lawn and an avenue of yew cones. There is also a 100fthigh mound his grandchildren call The Mountain. They love rolling down it — or sledging down it in the snow.
The balance of formal and informal — flowerbeds bursting with colour bordering neat lawns — is stunning.
Here, we take a peek at some of the highlights of Alan’s Secret Garden.