Alan Titchmarsh has claimed his new ITV series outperformed expectations, but brushed aside critics’ claims that it’s lightweight on horticultural content.

Alan Titchmarsh fronts Love Your Garden

Speaking exclusively to AG, Alan said Love Your Garden attracted average audiences of 3.5million viewers, peaking at 3.8million.

As well as returning for four episodes this autumn, a second series will run in 2012.

“It’s quite scary to do a new programme,” said Alan. “Audiences are declining, and not just in gardening. Because of multi-channels, the choice is now enormous.

“We were concerned that two million viewers was tops for gardening, so it’s a relief to find there’s still a market.”

Asked to comment on getting more viewers than Monty Don on Gardeners’ World, Alan said: “I’m not allowed to say! I’m relieved that Love Your Garden has done well. My concern was that it should do as well as Gardeners’ World.”

Love Your Garden received upbeat reviews but some viewers said it lacks in-depth horticultural content.

Alan hit back: “I don’t agree that it’s lightweight on horticultural information. I do horticulture in an entertaining way. From start to finish, it’s all about gardening, growing and what to do in your garden.

Love Your Garden doesn’t throw Latin names at viewers. It’s deliberate. If we only make programmes for aficionados we miss out a raft of people who are intimidated [by gardening].

It moves people on to shows aimed at more experienced gardeners. That’s what Ground Force did. It’s not dumbing down. It’s making gardening accessible.”

Royal Horticultural Society director-general Sue Biggs said: “Alan’s series has been fantastic. And Monty Don has been doing great things with Gardeners’ World.”

TV gardener Chris Beardshaw said David Domoney’s Garden ER series meant that TV was taking gardening seriously again: “It’s great to see gardening getting airtime. It’s cyclical. We’ve been in a drought and we’re emerging into spring.”