Gardening Journalist

The Lady

DOWN TO EARTH

Roddy Llewellyn is one of the country's leading gardening experts - although he is also remembered as a close friend of the late Princess Margaret.

Born in Monmouthshire in 1947, he was educated at Shrewsbury and in Aix-en-Provence, before going on to study horticulture and landscaping at Merrist Wood Agricultural College in Surrey.

In 1977, he set up Roddy Llewellyn Landscapes. he has created many beautiful gardens in, and around London and, also, abroad.

In 1981 he became gardening correspondent for The Star, moving on to Mail On Sunday in 1987. He has also contributed articles to Country Life, Period Living, Country Homes and Interiors and Gardens Illustrated. He was gardening correspondent for TV-AM when it started. More recently, he co-presented The Gardening Roadshow for the BBC. Since 1997 he has also had his own series Roddy Llewellyns Garden Guide for the satellite channel Granada Breeze.

Roddy has appeared as one of the panelists on Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time and Grass Roots on Meridien. he is gardening correspondent for ITV1's This Morning.

He has lectured on garden design and horticulture both in Britain and America.

His books include: Roddy Llewellyns Town Gardens (1981), Beautiful Backyards (1985), Water Gardens (1987), Elegance and Eccentricity (1989), and most recently, Roddy Llewellyn's Gardening Year (1997).

Roddy lives in Oxfordshire with his wife Tatiana, their three daughters Alexandra 22, Natasha 20, and Rosie 17, and a dog called Lulu.

"I am a gregarious animal - I love an audience and I love meeting people. But I also enjoy times solitary contemplation in the garden, at one with nature.

I like visiting other people's gardens because you can get lots of great ideas for your own. Most of the ingredients of my garden were inspired by what I have seen elsewhere.

I knew what I wanted an oak tree to the north of my house but it was not until I went to Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire that my mind was made up when I saw their Hungarian Oak with its large leaves and youthful vigor. I love planting trees because you are giving a life that will last for hundreds of years.

Then, I coped the idea of growing daffodils mixed with hostas from the gardens at Powis Castle in Wales. While the silver and white garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent inspired me to reproduce it in miniature at home.

The idea for growing ornamental gourds on a pergola came from Lady Tollemache's wonderful garden at Helmingham Hall in Suffolk.

My career options as a young man were either to join the brewery business (my father was chairman of a brewery) or the army.

But I failed my army interview comprehensively - they said they had never seen anyone less suited to the life of an officer. I still have the letter framed and hanging in the loo.

Needless to say, my father, who had been a distinguished soldier, was not impressed.

My lifelong hobby since childhood has been stamp collecting, but my collection was stolen a few years ago, which was very upsetting as it contained special things that were written by my grandmother.

I am also fascinated by clocks. My uncle's mother had 21 clocks in her drawing-room and, at midday, the noise was so overwhelming you had to leave the room.

I love words, but my reading habits are not good. The English language is so rich and fascinating it it makes me mad when you hear the F-word bandied about so casually today.

I find that watching birds cavorting around in my birdbath is a lot more interesting than most of the programmes you see on television. I can't bear all these reality shows, with people like Paul Burrell and Lord Brocket being elevated to celebrity status.

I have been approached to do one of these shows myself - I could certainly do with the money but I know I would hate myself forever if I succumbed.

I have not lived in London since the mid-1980's, although my wife and I do go to stay with friends there quite often. We recently saw The Woman in White and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang while we were up there, which we enjoyed.

I would love to see India before I die and go back to Egypt, a magical place.

My days of lying on the beach are over. I would much rather go walking in the hills of Tuscany with my chums.

I love entertaining, but am afraid my culinary repertoire is restricted to roast chicken, scrambled eggs and risotto alla funghui, using dried mushrooms.

If we have got somebody special coming for dinner I might put some red wine into a decanter and add a tablespoon of vintage port. I find that gives it an extra je ne sais quoi and leaves my guest wondering where on earth I acquired such a sensational wine.

My absolutely favourite thing to eat is kippers, which I can happily have at any time of day."