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

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

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing specialist merchant co...


£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'