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Alan Titchmarsh Column - February/March 22

Green Fingers…The Alan Titchmarsh Column

He’s a brilliant presenter, accomplished gardener, talented novelist and all-round horticultural inspiration. This month, Alan Titchmarsh talks about his favourite things in the garden.

I think if a cross-section of people are asked to name the thing in a garden that gives them joy and a feeling of admiration beyond anything else, a good number will choose the rose. Think about it, is there anything else that offers such a breadth of colour, such a contradiction of beauty and danger (in the sense of a seductive flower and the prickly thorns that linger just a few inches down), or that offers a bouquet that has melted the hearts of a thousand romantics!

Okay, so yes, a rose sometimes can seem so-and-so, perhaps because we embrace them so fully in our lives, and I accept there is something perhaps even a little cliched about the simple rose these days. However, I will be so bold as to say this - a garden without a fragrant rose isn't much of a garden at all.

For other times of the year, I will pick out certain things that give me incredible satisfaction. I look forward to these coming round, and their emergence is always very special. The first snowdrop in January; the first daffodil in February.

These are the types of flowers that mark a change in or a progression of the season, and that always fills me with hope and expectation. You know these beautiful elements will always arrive, but still, it’s a relief when they do!

I have also really taken a shine to the aubrieta in recent years. It’s that beautiful tumbling purple spray of miniature-coloured flowers that will cascade off rocks, boulders and other inhospitable lumps in a way that bring them life and beauty. The flowers almost resemble little four-leaf clovers, and perhaps it’s that expression of happiness and love that makes this such a winner in every way.

Finally, I would look to the sweet pea. They are just so versatile – sow individually in root trainers or in pots filled with seed compost, choose pretty much any colour across the spectrum. They are perfect in borders and you can even get the seeds in the ground in any range from November through to June. For me, they are the ultimate, and a great pleasure.

Of course, tending to a garden is all about personal taste. These are some of my favourites, but I know reading this you may well feel I have it completely wrong.

That’s the beauty of gardening – it’s a landscape that’s entirely yours to do entirely what you will with, and we will all agree that’s wonderful.