Interview with gardening presenter Pippa Greenwood
Television and radio gardening presenter Pippa Greenwood talks living the good life in the South Downs
It’s mid-afternoon in Cloisters cafe in Petersfield’s Market Square and Pippa Greenwood and I are enjoying a much-needed cup of coffee. She’s a busy lady; we only have half an hour for our chat as she has to dash to collect her son and daughter from school. Born in London, Pippa and her partner moved to the county 24 years ago, she explains: "The first house we bought together was in Bordon, and then we moved to Shalden just outside Alton, a lovely little village, where we were for four years before moving to where we are now."
Of course their new home came with plenty of land so that Pippa could indulge her green fingers, but after 17 years it is still an ongoing project as their attentions were focused on creating their family home.
"We bought a pretty decrepit house, which is how we could afford it. We wore walking boots for months, had to sleep in all our clothes because it had no heating, but it’s lovely now. The garden is developing gradually; it’s one of those things - ‘him who makes shoes goes barefoot’, and all that. The house is in such lovely surroundings though, that’s what makes it so special," she says.
No place like Hampshire
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Pippa and her family live just 14 miles from Petersfield.
"It’s where I most like to come shopping, it has just about everything you need, yes there’s your high street stores, but there are plenty of little independents too. Liss isn’t too far from us either; the village is great for bits and bobs with a useful hardware store, u-do-diy, and it also has a lovely little Italian restaurant called Gusto, too.
But it’s living in the newly titled South Downs National Park that Pippa loves, "The Hampshire countryside is absolutely gorgeous. I travel quite a lot for work and when I’m driving back from recording it feels such a relief as I get nearer and nearer to home. Even if it’s getting dark you can still feel the green open spaces... and enjoy the fresh, fresh air."
Many will recognise Pippa from her appearances on Gardeners’ World, or you may have heard her on Radio 4’s Gardening Question Time, among other things and as well as offering her advice to the nation she also gets involved on a local Hampshire level too. Not only is she President of Petersfield in Bloom, she’s also Patron of Hart Wildlife near Medstead.
"It’s the only wildlife hospital in Hampshire. It started a number of years ago from someone’s house and now it’s grown to a fully functioning hospital, thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people. They’re amazing", she says proudly.
Out and about
When Pippa’s not rushing around lecturing, presenting, interviewing, writing or working on her new ventures, she loves spending her time at gardens in Hampshire; she’s particularly fond of Hiller Gardens near Romsey.
"In the winter it’s great to go and see and smell all the Witch Hazels. There are so many nice places to walk and wander all across the county. Even if you wanted to experience the city for the day you can go to Winchester, it’s a lovely place," although for Pippa the county town doesn’t beat Petersfield. "I like it less busy," she admits. But most of Pippa’s spare time is spent with her two children.
"I take on the classic role of taxi driver, head chef, bottle washer, floor sweeper and everything else, but that’s fine by me."
Growing your own
Not being able to resist talking about gardening any longer, I ask Pippa about her most recent venture via her website. It’s always been a passion of hers to encourage others to grow their own vegetables.
"A lot of people want to and they have a go and it perhaps doesn’t work very well so they give up. You’ve wasted your time, your money and enthusiasm, plus it’s a bit embarrassing that it didn’t work."
So to help wannabe veg growers Pippa has set up a scheme on her site called ‘Grow Your Own with Pippa Greenwood’. All you do is choose the vegetables you would like to grow from what’s available and you’re then sent a box of the good-sized garden ready plants at the right time for planting. Here’s the clever bit: "Every week you will receive a tailor-made email from me advising you on what you need to be doing to get the best results. I grow all the products myself, so I know what to do at what time and what stage of growth they’re at. It’s all in real time, for instance I write the emails myself each week, from pre-planting advice through to harvest so it will be specific to the conditions of this year."
My half hour is up, and I’ve been convinced that even I could grow something in our recently inherited greenhouse – what to choose though? I already need some ‘Ask Pippa Credits’.