Alan Titchmarsh riled by gardening digs – Telegraph – Telegraph.co.uk

Beard’s offence was to have criticised this simple assumption in Buerk’s
piece, by remarking that there was more to growing old than being
“interested in geraniums”. But Titchmarsh was most exercised by comments
used to promote a book by Clarkson, that gardening was “a pointless way of
passing the time until you die”.

All combined, it sufficiently raised Titchmarsh’s ire to cause him to hit
back. “Right. Let’s get this straight,” he writes. “For some, gardening is
about growing geraniums, planting hanging baskets and tending window boxes;
in the same way that for some, driving a car is about getting into a Ford
Focus and going down to the shops.

“There is nothing wrong with any of these pursuits if that is what gives
pleasure to those who undertake them. But for others, “gardening” is not an
especially sedentary pastime, it is a vital and energising involvement with
the world that surrounds us.”

He adds – with a side swipe at Clarkson and his fellow Top Gear presenters,
Richard Hammond and James May: “Gardens and open spaces lift the spirits,
broaden the mind, heighten the senses and even thrill, every bit as much as
the transitory roar of a Ferrari that is burning up fossil fuel and giving
three middle-aged men an expensive kick that lasts but a few minutes.”

In his strongly-worded article, Titchmarsh laments how “apparently bright
people (Clarkson) could be so wrong”, before bemoaning the comments of
Beard, “for whom I have a considerable amount of time”.

He goes on to praise the life-affirming qualities of gardening and the natural
world, and to make the case that they should not be considered the sole
preserve of those of advancing years. He writes how the younger generation
should be encouraged to get more involved, reflecting regretfully on
youngsters “whose lives are lived on computer screens, whose tweets and
FaceTime are the nearest they come to human – let alone wildlife – contact”.

And in comments that may not, in turn, endear himself to the nation’s dominoes
and bowls players, nor its sewing practitioners, he writes that gardening is
about “the future, not about the past”, adding: “the sooner the likes of
Clarkson and Beard appreciate that and stop tarring it – and those of us who
practise it – with the same brush as playing dominoes and bowls, crocheting
bedspreads and making patchwork quilts, the better for us and for the
planet.”

He goes on: “I have a very fast car and I enjoy driving it, but when push
comes to shove, roaring down the motorway with the lid off can’t hold a
candle to a day sitting by the side of a stream watching the activities of
birds and insects, plants and flowers and then going home and gardening – an
activity that actually makes a difference to the world in which we live, as
well as keeping alive in me those vital senses of wonder, proportion,
fulfilment and well-being. So there.”

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