Alan Titchmarsh has been accused of being a ‘lumberjack’ after recommending that trees at the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show site should be axed.
The TV gardener advised that around 30 trees should be removed, despite strong objections from local residents.
In his role on the board of commissioners at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Alan branded the trees “overgrown Victorian shrubbery”.
They were chopped last autumn, in a bid to improve views of the hospital building, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It is home to the Chelsea Pensioners.
The commissioners said that the removal of the trees would be in keeping with Wren’s original vision to have clear viewsto and from the banks of the Thames.
But a string of councillors and residents voiced concerns to Kensington and Chelsea council about the destruction of “beautiful” trees, including mature planes.
Resident Terence Buxton complained: “I wish to strongly object to the proposed re-landscaping of the south grounds of the Royal Hospital due to the loss of valuable mature trees along the South Terrace.”
Speaking at a Chelsea preview, Royal Horticultural Society director-general Sue Biggs quipped of Alan: “We call him the lumberjack now”.
She joked that the tree felling had been a “nightmare on Royal Hospital Avenue.”
Where the trees once stood, designer Phillip Johnson is to present a garden that will be blanketed with up to 300,000 handmade poppies to commemorate Australian soldiers who lost their lives during World War I.
Defending his advice, Alan Titchmarsh said: “I was not solely responsible for the removal of trees but a view of a grade I-listed building is better than overgrown shrubs and trees.
“The overgrown Victorian shrubbery at the Royal Hospital was masking the Sir Christopher Wren view. There was quite a lot of local opposition because people do not like trees being chopped down, and quite right too.
“The decision was not just by me but I was on the board that recommended it. I hope that the show will benefit,” Alan explained.