The 71-year-old is renowned with TV viewers for his charming demeanour and delivering the most inventive advice on growing plants in the nation. His flourishing career began in the Seventies before he had his TV break in the Nineties, eventually going on to secure starring roles in shows such as ‘Gardeners’ World’ and covering the Chelsea Flower Show. But at heart, Alan still remains an avid writer on gardening, and last year while writing for Country Life, he explained how weeds have now become a prominent aspect of his garden.
He said: “The knapped flint wall surrounding my Hampshire garden is a little like the Forth Railway Bridge when it comes to the repairs that seem necessary after every spell of winter frost.
“Where we’re slow to act with the mortar, the pink valerian, Centranthus ruber, will seed itself into the crevices and I’m loath to uproot it in the interests of re-pointing when it looks so delightful.
“Like the wallflower, which earned its common name by virtue of its ability to grow in the crevices between stones and bricks, it’s an embellishment to my garden rather than a weed.”
The star explained that a weed is “simply a plant growing where it isn’t wanted, otherwise it’s a wildflower”.
He added: ” The trick is to be open-minded about such adventurous invaders and to consider whether they add to the garden’s interest.
“If they do, stay your hand, stop being quite so controlling and just enjoy their willingness to thrive.
“You might even consider introducing a few of them in the hope that they won’t be so cussed as to turn up their toes and cock a snook at your intervention.”
Alan has remained a firm favourite on the TV circuit, but achieved international acclaim for the BBC show ‘Ground Force’.
“Strictly Come Dancing a few times. My wife was a dancer and she says my knees just wouldn’t take the lifts.
“My agent knows not to even ask me about I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
“I want to be famous for doing something, not for the sake of being famous.
“I’ve never had a quiet period and I’ve always had my spade to fall back on. I’ve been very blessed.”