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.

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