Alan Fred Titchmarsh, MBE, DL, HonFSE is an English gardener, presenter, poet, and novelist. After working as a professional gardener and a gardening journalist, he established himself as a media personality through appearances on gardening programmes. He has developed a diverse writing and broadcasting career.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ALAN TITCHMARSH
By Rachael Funnell - May 9, 2017
Alan Titchmarsh has been one of the most prolific gardening authors of the last 20 years and shares his thoughts on books he has written and books he admires
An interview with Alan Titchmarsh:
Which gardening book left the deepest impression on you when you were starting your gardening career?
The first ever gardening book I remember was Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I’ve been looking for the tricolor pelargonium that Mr McGregor’s boot kicked over ever since! My dad gave me an old copy of Simple Gardening by R.P.Faulkner that my mum’s dad had given him when he took over the family allotment, but the first book I ever bought was Percy Thrower’s Encyclopedia of Gardening when I was about thirteen years old. It was a straightforward book that answered so many of my questions back in the early 1960s. I never imagined that one day I would become Percy’s editor.
What can you remember about writing your first book?
The first gardening book I wrote came about by default. The person who was meant to write it let down the editor at Hamlyn’s (I had just left Kew and become an assistant editor of gardening books at Hamlyn). He asked if I would write it instead. It was called Gardening Under Cover and my wife took the photograph of me for the back of the jacket. I was tremendously thrilled at getting into print between hard covers!
Which of your gardening books are you most proud of?
I’m proud of How to be a Gardener: Secrets of Success, which accompanied a BBC television series I presented about really basic gardening. I wanted to present a programme that started off assuming no basic knowledge at all for those who felt that Gardeners’ World was too advanced. It became the fastest-selling gardening book of all time, which is rather a nice boast. The book I love most is My Secret Garden which I wrote about the home garden I have made over the last fifteen years. It is a really personal record of the garden in which I live and Jonathan Buckley’s photographs are wonderful.
What is the most well-thumbed gardening book on your bookshelf?
The Royal Horticultural Society A-Z of Garden Plants is always by my writing desk and I couldn’t do without it. It offers both inspiration and advice and reminds me of how many plants I have yet to grow!
Which author do you most admire?
I enjoy the writings of Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto, both of whom have been great friends to me, and Robin Lane Fox’s books are always thought provoking.
If you were asked to write a monograph, which plant genus would you choose?
I would be totally unable to make up my mind. It would be between digitalis, geranium, pelargonium, flowering cherries, hellebores, tulips, peonies. Mercifully most of them have been done!
If you had to choose between writing fiction or writing about gardening, which would you choose?
That’s like asking a parent to say which child they like best. It is not a choice I have to make! But I am a gardener first and foremost and I love enthusing others about my passion.
Can we expect any more books from you soon, gardening or otherwise?
I am committed to another two novels over the next three years, and I am in discussion about non-fiction. So I’m still tapping away at the laptop and hoping that someone, somewhere, will want to read what I have written.
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