Alan Titchmarsh’s special gardening tip exposed: ‘Plant I always loved’

The much loved TV is one of the country’s most recognisable stars, after rising to prominence in the early Nineties on BBC talk show ‘Pebble Mill at One’. Following this early success, the now-70-year-old secured his legacy with appearances on ‘Gardeners’ World’ and ‘Ground Force’. And it was his work on the latter which earned him international acclaim.

Alongside ‘Ground Force’ co-stars Charlie Dimmock and Tommy Walsh, Mr Titchmarsh was invited to makeover former South African president Nelson Mandela’s garden.

But in a special move, the gardener revealed why he loves dahlias so much.

Despite admitting that some describe dahlias as “common and coarse”, Mr Titchmarsh demonstrated in a comment piece for Country Life in October 2019 his admiration for the flower.

He wrote:  “I’ve always loved dahlias, from my early teens in Yorkshire when, one April, I bought a dozen different varieties as rooted cuttings from a nurseryman in the next village.

“Yorkshire winters lasted longer then than they do now and I had to keep my treasures on top of an electric storage heater by the glazed front door until early June, when they could be planted in the garden without the risk of frost damage.”

Dahlias originate from Central America and Mexico, and are renowned for their bushy flowers, which are decorated with light, bright colours.

In the UK, their garden relatives include the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum and zinnia.

And explaining exactly how he would personally plant them, Mr Titchmarsh revealed a number of tips to help them grow.

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He said: “Mine are planted out as dormant tubers at the beginning of May (having been kept — rather unceremoniously — in boxes, quite dry, underneath the bench in my frost-free potting shed, with labels tied around their stumps of dry stem to tell me their names come planting time).

“A 3ft-high rusted-steel stake with a bobble on the top marks the planting spot of each one and the stems are loosely tied in as they grow.”

He added: “Bedding dahlias, being relatively low-growing, need no additional support, but those that rise to a yard or more will need help to stay upright. 

“I prefer the look of my rusted steel ‘pins’ to traditional 1in-square wooden dahlia stakes that seem better suited to an allotment than an elegant mixed border.

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“And that is where the dahlias go — in gaps — with, to be honest, little thought to their colour.”

The gardener’s success continued during the late 00s and into the early 10s 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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