Green fingers! Introducing the experts' favourite plants

Paul Bignell asks famous gardeners what they are most proud of in their patch, and hears why growing your own is always best


Sophie Grigson Cookery writer and celebrity chef

"At the moment I've got a lot of herbs growing – everything from parsley, mint, chives and thyme. We've also got plenty of fruit, including some lovely raspberries. These are all great things to have in your garden. I also love growing rhubarb and I'm very proud of mine. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I realised I adored rhubarb."

Bunny Guinness Landscape architect and 'Gardeners' Question Time' panellist

"One of my favourite things is the fig tree. I have propagated many different varieties. My favourite fig tree is one that I planted 15 years ago. I think they give a garden a feeling of establishment – they look like they've been around for years – I really like that feel. I also love to use the figs in salads, with vinaigrette and cheese, stuffed with walnuts or in ice cream."

Sven Wombwell Landscape gardener

"At home I'm particularly proud of my chillies and my peppers, which I've grown in my conservatory. The Independent on Sunday has done really well with this campaign. Growing and eating your own food is almost like a dying art. It's really great to get children involved and it's something I support wholeheartedly."

David Bellamy Botanist and environmental campaigner

"All the flowers that provide nectar, such as American native lupins and Californian poppies, that are feeding the butterflies and moths, including the painted ladies that are arriving in Britain after a long journey from Africa."

Chris Beardshaw 'Gardeners' World' presenter

"Figs ripening on a fan-trained specimen, tomatoes tumbling from terracotta pots or a fine specimen of Cornus controversa are hot contenders, but the mature lime trees in my garden are the foundation of the woodland borders. The new leaf canopy at this time of the year offers a delightfully zesty tone against azure skies and perfect dappled shade for hosta, asplenium [hart's tongue fern] and filipendula in the under storey. They also house a treehouse, which I am told by my kids I'm too old for – but you can't grow out of tree-climbing, can you?"

Pippa Greenwood Plant pathologist and 'Gardeners' Question Time' panellist

"The love of my life at the moment is my veg garden. Things are currently quite young, but just today we were eating a quick lunch with lovely home-grown rocket, baby spinach leaves and baby beetroot leaves. They're really gorgeous and beautiful to look at, too."

Paula Pryke Florist and author

"One of the things that I love that's in my garden at the moment are foxgloves – they're very English and are looking quite blue just now."

Merrilees Parker Celebrity chef and TV presenter

"In my garden at this time of year I'm loving the melissa [lemon balm] plant my mum gave me as I can make yummy tea with the leaves. I also love my tub of baby salad leaves. It's great not to have to buy expensive bagged salad. The Let Children Grow campaign is vital to ensure children understand how nature provides for us. In a generation of pre-packed, pre-prepared food it's easy to forget where food actually comes from."

Competition: Snap a snapdragon and win a camera for your school

The Independent on Sunday today launches a photography competition to complement our Let Children Grow initiative, which aims to encourage schoolchildren around the country to become involved in gardening. Since we launched our campaign, working with the Royal Horticultural Society, in April, almost 1,000 schools have signed up, representing nearly 200,000 schoolchildren. Now we are asking children to show us the fruits of their labours. Parents or teachers, simply email us the best photograph by a child of your school's green space – whether it is a garden, allotment or window-box – at letchildrengrow@independent.co.uk.

The competition will run until the end of the month, and our expert panel will announce the winner and two runners-up in the edition of Sunday 5 July. First prize, kindly offered by Jessops and Marshalls, is a Sony Cybershot DSC-W290, 12.1 megapixel (rrp £239) for your school, plus three Woodstone Planter Kits consisting of 12 Nos: 2000 x 1000 x 400 sleepers and 4 return and 2 intermediate posts. Second prize, donated by Marshalls, is two Woodstone Planter Kits, and third prize one Woodstone Planter Kit. Happy snapping! and good luck!

Terms and conditions

Closing date for the competition is 30 June 2009. Winning photo and runners-up will be announced in-paper on Sunday 5 July 2009. The Planter Kits are provided as materials only and do not include installation of other materials. All prizes will be delivered free of charge. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash alternative. A full set of terms and conditions can be found at independent.co.uk/legal.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?