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Celebrating Summer with Alan Titchmarsh 11

By Open Air Theatre

Alan Titchmarsh

Leading us Up The Garden Path on 4 June, in a celebration of all things floral, are Alan Titchmarsh and Richard Sisson.

I left school at fifteen to be a gardener,” says Alan, “and never regretted a moment of it. My grandad fanned the flame on his allotment when I was tiny.” As this specially cultivated evening suggests, it’s a little of everything Alan loves about gardens – though choosing what to include was like choosing his favourite plant. “It varies with the seasons. In June, for example, it's old-fashioned shrub roses with their great scents and wonderfully complex flowers. But I love spring - every year we get a chance to start again and there is a great freshness to it.” However, he finds great solace in Edwards Thomas’s poem Tall Nettles and Adelstrop too – so maybe they’ll make the final cut.

Richard Sisson discovered his own passion, for music, when he first heard a piano. “I loved the noise it made. And the piano seemed to be able to say everything I wanted the world to know about”. And he explains why the marriage of music and the great outdoors is a perfect one. “The beauty of nature (not to mention the miracle of the secateurs) have always demanded celebration by the highest forms of man's art. And like music, gardens make you feel happy. Jardins sous la pluie’ by Debussy is beautiful, it's exotic, it's wet (and it's got a piano in it!)”. But for this evening, he’s going to play the delicious Marigold by Billy Mayerl. When you listen, you’ll know why.

Also performing on 4 June is Luton’s Cantores Choir, which Richard adjudicated for the national Choir of the Year competition. “They were exceptional and have grown and developed over the years to become one of the country's most satisfying amateur choral ensembles of young people.”

So what gardens have inspired Alan in the planning of this evening of words and music? I love my own garden, but also Tresco (Isles of Scilly) and the Prince of Wales's garden at Highgrove. The park at Chatsworth is also very special, and there is a tiny garden on the cliffs at Woolacombe in Devon which is divine.”

And what’s on the horizon for Alan after Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre? One day I'd love to go to New Zealand and see tree ferns growing in the wild. And I still battle to grow dieramas - the fairy wand flower. One day...”

And it wouldn’t be right to end without a gardening tip:I struggled for years with carrots in stony soil, then I built a raised bed with sieved soil and - hey presto!”

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