Alan Titchmarsh has called for gardening to be respected as a career – and not regarded as a destination for those who lack the intelligence to do anything else. 

Speaking before Christmas, Alan told a gathering of TV producers, editors and writers in London that he “has a dream” – a reference to the 1963 speech by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King.

Alan said: “I have a dream that one day, people will come to their senses and realise that far from being the province of those who are unfit or lacking the intelligence to do other jobs, horticulture will be worthy of more than a passing glance.

“People who pursue it as a career are due a far greater degree of respect and gratitude from a population who, without the existence of men and women of the land, would be starved both physically and intellectually.”

The former Ground Force host, who recently stepped down from anchoring BBC coverage of Chelsea, called on the media to promote the diverse range of plant and garden-related careers.

Alan said respected professions should include growing, designing, teaching, writing, plant breeding, conservation, food-growing and research.