Mary, Mary, how does your garden grow?
By Daisy Meager
The undisputed queen of The Great British Bake Off and all-round national treasure, Mary Berry, reveals all about her other passion: gardening. Mary is an ambassador for the Royal Horticultural Society and this year was appointed President of the National Gardens Scheme.
Alongside Alan Titchmarsh, Mary will be taking to the stage and hosting talks at this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival on 5-8 May. Ahead of her appearance, we quizzed Mary on the festival, her gardening disasters and starting a horticultural revolution.
Q. When did you start gardening?
A. During the Second World War, food was very scarce so I used to help out my father around the garden to grow our own. I only took up gardening properly when the children didn’t need me so much and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.
Q. What do you enjoy about gardening?
A. It’s great to be out in the open and I love waiting for all the different seasons. I want to get more people gardening because it’s creative, out in the fresh air and better than being inside on a computer! You don’t need a big garden. You can be awfully busy with a few pots and window boxes.
Q. What are you looking forward to at RHS Malvern?
A. I like that you can buy plants and it’s such a big show, and outside London. I’m looking forward getting into the festival theatre and talking to TV gardener Joe Swift and food writer and owner of Otter Farm Mark Diacono. When you’re on television, you don’t get to talk to people but at Malvern there’ll be plenty of opportunities for the audience to ask questions.
Q. Food or flowers?
A. If I’m doing it myself, I love growing flowers but we use a lot of the produce grown in our vegetable patch and herb garden at home. Although, I’m not having much success with celeriac, which is one of my favourites, and my dill always goes to seed because I forget to sow it. We all make mistakes!
Q. What are your top tips for gardeners
A. Just get on with it! At the moment, you need to be clearing the herbaceous beds and soon it’ll be on to planting seeds. The most important thing is to make sure to keep up with it.
Mary will be appearing at RHS Malvern Spring Festival from 5-8 May. For more information and tickets, visit the RHS Malvern website.