But in an unearthed account, celebrated TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh revealed what he felt was the best flower to put in your garden, regardless of ability – or amount of effort you’re willing to put in. 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.
Those shows were renowned for helping get people interested in their gardens and showing off a variety of tips and tricks to transform the outside of homes.
In a 2019 opinion piece for Country Life entitled ‘The ultimate flower for the lazy gardener’, Mr Titchmarsh exposed the secret flower he felt was easiest to get to grips with.
He wrote: “In the same way that many people seem to want a fast-growing shrub offering year-round interest and which stops growing when it reaches a manageable height, so they also ask for a border perennial that is tough, easy to grow, happy in most soils, self-supporting and in bloom for as much of the year as possible.
“This is a far easier proposition: choose penstemons.
“Time was when these elegant, spire-forming plants were regarded as too tender to survive the British winter outdoors, but, although some insurance in the form of rooted cuttings is always advisable, only in the severest of winters and in the most exposed parts of the UK will low temperatures and soggy soil wipe them out completely nowadays.
“That said, it seems to me that there is an interesting correlation in that the broader and softer the leaf, the less hardy a particular variety will be.”
He added: “I can think of no plant that offers so much in the way of floral spectacle for such a small outlay in terms of effort on the part of the gardener.
“They are, in short, national treasures.”
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Writing for Express.co.uk in 2014, Mr Titchmarsh described the flowers as “like those of the foxglove” which are “carried in tapering spires atop two foot stems”.
They come in an abundance of colours but are often best known for their deep purple and cream tops.
Mr Titchmarsh explained last year that the healthy, young plants should be placed in beds between late May until July, which he said would “establish their root systems well before winter”.
The plant, Mr Titchmarsh continued, loved the sun and it would grow in almost any half-decent soil.
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He added: “There is no need for lashings of garden compost or manure, which will encourage excessive leafy growth.
“A modest amount of organic enrichment will ameliorate poor soils and a sprinkling of blood, bone and fishmeal at planting time, and another during the growing season, will keep them deliriously happy.”
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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