Alan Titchmarsh: How TV gardener picked out ONE flower to brighten your home

The 70-year-old has become a well known face on British television, rising to prominence in the early Nineties on BBC talk show ‘Pebble Mill at One’ before securing his legacy with appearances on ‘Gardeners’ World’ and ‘Ground Force’. And it was his work on the latter which earned him international acclaim, as he – alongside co-hosts Charlie Dimmock and Tommy Walsh – was invited to makeover former South African president Nelson Mandela’s garden. But Mr Titchmarsh has made a surprise confession after he explained which flower sparked his imagination as a youngster, and began his journey to becoming a much loved British stalwart.

In a piece for Country Life this month, the gardener exposed his favourite plant under the comment piece ‘Alan Titchmarsh: The bright, cheery flower which fired my childhood dreams of becoming a gardener’.

He wrote: “Why does no one champion aubrieta? Is it because it is common? 

“Or rather too garish in its purple or carmine livery? 

“Or because it grows so freely on deeply unfashionable rockeries or the stone-studded banks that the legendary alpinist Reginald Farrer called ‘plum puddings’ or ‘dogs’ graves’?”

Mr Titchmarsh explained that the plant was named after Claude Aubriet – a 17th century French botanical artist.

The plant itself originates from southern Europe east to central Asia but has now become a mainstay over British, and European, gardens.

It is renowned for its small violet, pink or white flowers, and grows around rocks and banks.

And when describing his joy every time he sees the plant, Mr Titchmarsh continued: “Oh, how I love it. 

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“I love its ability to grow in the most inhospitable-looking terrain – tumbling banks of boulders or spoil heaps studded with lumps of concrete that someone thought to disguise with a few rock plants. 

“Over a couple of years, aubrieta turns itself into flower-studded pillows that cannot fail to raise a smile.”

He added: “Perhaps this is why I find myself admiring their cheery countenance. 

“As someone who has gardened on chalk for the past 40 years, I am delighted to encounter plants described thus, rather than ‘preferring acid soil’, which usually gives rise to a harrumph and a turning of the page of the plant catalogue.

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“Aubrieta is frequently grouped with arabis, another mat-forming crucifer that is not very often praised. 

“The plants are similar, but, for me, aubrieta is the more endearing of the two and offers a neater habit and a greater colour range.”

The gardener’s success continued during the late Noughties as his ‘Alan Titchmarsh Show’ on ITV charmed viewers every day.

He also presented reality show ‘Popstar to Operastar’ alongside former Hear’Say singer Myleene Klass.

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