Alan Titchmarsh's Garden Secrets (4 parts)

Alan Titchmarsh presents a stunning series that reveals the amazing secrets behind Britain's great gardens, examining how they continue to influence gardeners, including himself, today.


Part 1: 
17th Century, In the first episode, Alan visits Hatfield House in Hertfordshire to look at the key design features of the gardens of this 17th-century stately home. This was a time when horticulture and architecture worked seamlessly together and Hatfield reflects this new love of the aesthetic. Alan examines the famous parterres which are some of the first examples of Britain's affection for formal gardening, and shows how the parterre has been brought into the 21st century by designer Tom Stuart-Smith with his designs at Broughton Grange in Oxfordshire. Alan also looks at the use of perspective, which at Hatfield makes the driveways seem bigger and changes how the garden is seen from different points of view. He look at a French import, espaliers, that have been used to stunning effect in Hatfield and show how these have changed the way we contort trees in our garden, including his own tip on stepover apple trees. Plus, he reveals how our affection for topiary began in gardens such as this where they were originally seen as architectural forms, complementing the design of the house. Alan shows in his own garden that you don't need to plant hedges to achieve this, creating a portable sedum cube.


Part 2: 
18th Century Few gardening movements can match the impact of the 18th-century landscape movement, and Stowe in Buckinghamshire is one of the most important examples of their revolutionary designs. Here we find a rejection of the rigid formality of the previous century and an embracing of nature, no matter what the ecological cost. Alan demonstrates how they 'borrowed' views, manipulating the landscape to draw the eye to certain features. Creating a focal point is now a staple of modern garden design and Alan shows how it can accentuate a garden's best bits and also be used to hide things. Designers such as Bridgeman at Stowe were the first to sculpt huge areas of lawn, and Alan meets Kim Wilkie who is creating his own modern version of this type of lawn at Boughton Park. And Alan shows how the landscape movement pioneered the meandering path and placed statues and buildings in key places, aging them deliberately to fit with the landscape. Alan shares his own tips on aging, and how to recreate this type of 'set dressing' in a garden.


Part 3: 
19th Century The Victorians gave us a taste for exotic plants from around the world, a thirst for technology in the garden and a love of bold statements. Biddulph Grange, in Staffordshire, is a classic example of all these elements. The Victorians were transforming the garden from the natural landscapes of the 18th century to a new manufactured style. Alan comments how Biddulph is 'a world in one garden' made up of separate highly stylized designs inspired by China, Italy, Egypt and Scotland. These gardens are a setting for plant life from around the world and Alan explains how the Victorians were passionate plant hunters, particularly for orchids. He also shows us how to plant and care for exotics in our own garden. The Victorians also invented ways to transport and care for these rare plants. Alan demonstrates how they revolutionized growing under glass, building some of the biggest glasshouses in the world. There was also a passion for elaborate and gaudy display at this time with the creation of the carpet bed - a true symbol of Victorian knowledge and power. Alan shows us how to create one that will complement our own modern garden. A passion for technology was also transforming the kitchen garden and the Victorians established practices for produce growing that survive today. Alan reveals the key things to remember when growing vegetables.


Part 4: 
20th Century Alan reveals how Sissinghurst gardens in Kent is one of the most influential of the 20th century. Created by two passionate gardeners, Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Sir Harold Nicholson, its development coincided with key social changes in the British garden. There was a pre- and post-war boom in surburban housing, creating a generation of domestic gardeners. Despite its size, Sissinghurst appealed to the public because it was a warm and intimate garden and had been designed with a great many practical uses. Alan reveals that it was one of the first lifestyle gardens, made up of different 'rooms' designed for eating, relaxing and entertaining. Ideas that would lead to today's barbecue areas and daybed chillout zones in the garden began here. Alan shows his own take on the garden room, designing an outdoor dining table filled with herb and fruit plants. Vita Sackville West was also hugely influential in her use of colour. She used many colours to create a single hue and Alan reveals the myriad of colours in her famous purple border. She was also the first to create an all white garden. Sissinghurst is also famous for its naturalistic planting and Alan discusses how it works with head gardener Alexis Data. He also shows us how to create a wild flower meadow. And finally we learn that one part of Sissinghurst, the nuttery, would become famous as one of the first wild gardens. This new philosopohy would ultimately lead to todays perma culture gardens. Alan shows you how to create one in your own garden.

Alan Titchmarsh's Garden Secrets
Alan Titchmarsh's Garden Secrets