The 71-year-old is often regarded as Britain’s best gardener, and in some circles was highly influential in reawakening the nation’s love with their backyards. He has become a mainstay on TV screens thanks largely due to his appearances on shows such as ‘Gardeners’ World’ and for his role in covering the Chelsea Flower Show. Always one to share the latest trick or piece of advice he has picked up, two years ago – writing for Country Life – the star revealed a stunning hack to keep the beautiful summer colours growing until Winter.
The garden expert said: “Although my own garden isn’t planned specifically with late summer in mind, I flatter myself that I can anticipate that season with almost the same feverish excitement as I look forward to spring, simply because, tucked away in my beds and borders, are plants that are happy to wait until others have given their all before they deign to glorify my patch of Hampshire earth with their own contributions.
“The daisy family is exceptionally useful, as many of its members are autumn bloomers with dusky oranges, plum purples and mahogany to match the mood of the season.
“Rudbeckias, heleniums and echinaceas are of particular value here and the fact that most of them are tall enough to be positioned at least halfway back in the border means you don’t have to gaze upon a dull mass of shoots in the foreground between April and July.”
He explained that in his garden, he has a border which is “awash with Allium Purple Sensation in April and May”, and said surprisingly that “many gardeners regard this plant as nothing more than a weed”.
Yet, Alan had an ingenious way to ensure the plant doesn’t produce seedlings.
He added: “We snip off the seedheads before they ripen and thin out the plantation each year, which has enabled us to plant among them a host of different perennial asters, or Michaelmas daisies, for late-summer colour.
“These flowers were hugely popular with the Victorians, but gained a deservedly bad press in the late 20th century as their constitutions had become weakened and they were prone to disfiguring mildew.
“Now, there are newer, more vigorous varieties on offer and, provided they don’t go short of water, which will put them under stress and make mildew attacks more likely, they give a good account of themselves from late August until the frosts and they can grow to anything between 1ft and 5ft tall.
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“Claire Austin sells a wide range of these autumn treasures, whose blue, purple, cerise, pink or white flowers last well into November.”
Last year, Alan also made a furious confession after revealing something he hates people doing during the winter months in the UK.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Alan championed the reopening of garden centres and nurseries to ensure the flourishing industry in the UK did not stop growing.
The Government, which initially closed all shops due to the coronavirus outbreak, eventually lifted the shackles and the businesses were allowed to reopen.
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But back in 2019, Alan made another plea as he demanded people stop eating tomatoes during the winter months.
He argued – while writing for ‘Gardener’s World’ – that we should only be eating produce grown in the UK in order to protect the industry throughout the year.
Alan said: “We shouldn’t be eating tomatoes and strawberries in the middle of winter.
“I fume when, in the middle of summer, my local supermarket is selling tomatoes from Spain when we are producing plenty of tasty fruits on the Isle of Wight.
“We really should support our local growers and do our bit to make this country more efficient at producing food.”
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