Alan Titchmarsh was left horrified by an expensive blunder involving some “old friends”, the cost of which he is too ashamed to admit, after a cold snap transformed his land to an unrecognisable state
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Alan Titchmarsh may have been a gardening expert for almost 50 years, but even he makes mistakes.
Love Your Garden host Alan has revealed he generally favours the “leave it alone” approach when it comes to making a fuss over plants and trees.
But he recently learnt the hard way that such a blasé attitude could lead to a very costly mistake.
So costly in fact, Alan was too nervous to write in print just how much he is going to need to spend on replacing them, in case his wife, Alison Titchmarsh, saw.
Writing in Country Life, Alan, 72, explained that 15 years ago he had planted “lollipop shaped topiary yews” in pots in his garden in Yorkshire.
The yews, which are in pots that are 3ft high and 2ft across, were “well fed and watered” and “top-dressed annually with fresh compost”.
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But at the end of January, when a cold snap hit the nation, Alan’s garden transformed.
He was shocked to find that his pond had frozen over to the point where it could hold Alan’s weight for the first time in 20 years.
And the cold snap caused a huge crack to open up in one of the pots, and two lumps of terracotta came away from the base.
“It was clearly beyond repair,” Alan remarked.
“A replacement will cost… if it’s all the same to you, I would rather not write down the precise sum lest my wife catches sight of it.”
Alan was surprised the pots, imported from Italy, had fared so badly in the cold, despite being so hardy for years.
And he was also shocked his plants had been suffering for so long without showing any difference on the outside.
“I made the mistake of assuming that, because the plants were growing happily, I could leave them alone,” he admitted.
Calling the plants “old friends”, Alan said he expected them to show him when they needed water or repotting and had presumed the day had just not yet arrived.
Wondering if his “complacency” might have taught him a lesson, Alan explained the pot cracking in freezing cold temperatures was simply inevitable.
Now, Alan faces the arduous task of extracting the yews from their pots and pruning their roots – without damaging the expensive pots.
Alan’s concern over spending huge amounts of money may come from his younger years, where cash was far from abundant.
He has opened up about his early years with wife Alison with whom he shares daughters Polly, 40, and Camilla, 38.
The Ground Force star married Alison, a doctor, 47 years ago, and said they were short of money when they were younger.
He gushed to Yours magazine: “I’m a lucky man, because she’s the most unmaterialistic person I know.”
Alan added: “We never went out for dinner, we couldn’t afford it.
“We used to save 25p a week with our butcher so we could be sure of a Christmas joint.
“We would try to avoid the milkman when he wanted paying.”
Speaking to The Mirror about his upcoming wedding anniversary last year, Alan said: “We celebrate our anniversary in July, but we’ve been married so long that she doesn’t go in for expensive jewellery – and although this year is sapphire, I know I’ll be discouraged from buying one.”
He continued: “Last year I looked it up, and the 44th anniversary was groceries – so I took her to Marks & Spencer, and she was happy as Larry!”
Asked on how he has managed to keep his marriage so happy throughout the decades, Alan said it’s all about “being thoughtful”.
“I have made Alison tea for 45 years – but mind you, she’s ironed my shirts every week for 44 years, which is the greater gift,” he joked.
Alan is also now a grandfather, revealing during lockdown: “I’m very lucky, one [daughter] has got two little boys, aged eight and six, and one’s got two little girls, aged seven and five.
“Catching up with the children and grandchildren is what I am so desperate to do.
“We’re looking at one another on screen and it’s not the same as a cuddle is it?” he asked.
“I miss giving my grandchildren a big hug.”
In 2014, the green-fingered TV star revealed he was taking statins to avoid the heart disease that killed his dad and other male relatives.
Alan revealed to The Mirror he had stared taking medication to lower his cholesterol levels.
He admitted at the time: “I’m on statins. I wish I wasn’t. I don’t like the thought of taking tablets every day, but I’m following my doctor’s advice.
“He thinks it’s a good idea.”
Alan continued: “The thing is, the men in my family have had a tendency to die from heart disease at a relatively young age.
“My dad, for instance, died suddenly in 1986 from a heart attack, aged just 62.
“Outliving my dad has made me think about things,” he added.
“The truth of the matter is that I’ve decided to ease up a bit, and pace myself.”
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