Gardening expert Paul is definitely no shrinking violet

Paul Robinson in his favourite garden at Breezy Knees near York
Paul Robinson in his favourite garden at Breezy Knees near York

Paul Robinson is well-known around Bridlington for his entertaining talks on his passion – 
gardening.

This spring, he will give his 250th talk on the subject at North Bridlington Library, and he promises it will be full of fun and facts in equal measure.

That is why the larger-than-life character is known as the Laughing Gardener.

Paul is hoping to get 100 people to his talk, and all proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Bridlington Hospital.

Here he answers questions about his time talking about life in the garden

How did you become known as the Laughing Gardener? It has only happened in the last three years. My talks are always fun and I was once described as a group as ‘the Peter Kay of Gardening’.

The biggest compliment groups pay me is that my talks are very informative about all aspects of horticulture but also very funny.

I am finding now that my talks are not only of interest to gardening groups but also non-gardeners, due to the humour.

Proudest moment of your career? Meeting Alan Titchmarsh and showing him around Horticap in Harrogate, where I was deputy manager for 14 years. Alan agreed to be our charity’s patron and still is to this day.

What topics do you cover in your talks? I cover plenty of topics, from herbs, shrubs and trees to poisonous plants and pests and disease. I also have a general gardening talk which is my most popular one with groups.

Largest group you have spoken to? 250 people at Bridlington Spa a few years ago for a University of the Third Age group.

How does it feel to reach 250 gardening talks? I am proud. I never thought I would. I did my first talk in 1991 at Horticap, a horticulture charity in Harrogate.

I am proud to have passed on my knowledge to people and I have had lots of laughs as well as meeting some some wonderful people.

What can people expect at your 250th talk? I can’t give too much away but it will be fun and informative. I will also have my pet insects and spiders with me, as well as some of my homemdade fruit and vegetable juices, which I get the audience to taste.

Funniest moment? I was talking to a group while doing a guided tour of a lovely group and I started eating what I thought was an edible pot marigold. Except I had made a mistake, it was a chrysanthemum.

My mouth was burning and my lips looked like Mick Jagger.

Because they were swollen, my speech became unrecognisable and the audience thought I had turned into an alien.

Luckily, I recovered quickly and the talk carried on. I laugh about it now and I have not made the same mistake again.

Most embarrassing moment? In front of 200 people in Knaresborough, my last demonstration was root cutting of 12 propagation techniques. I realised towards the end that I had done the root cutting upside down.

Not one person had realised. I owned up to the mistake and a huge roar of laughter and a round of appluase which softened the blow of my mistake.

What is your ambition? I would love to talk at The Spa again to more than 300 mpeople and spread the word about the fun side of gardening.

Favourites...

Plant? Heliotrope

Insect? Bee

Garden? Breezy Knees at York

Gardeners? Alan Titchmarsh and Carol Klein

Talk of your 250 so far? At Malton two years ago. I was on stage for an hour-and-three-quarters because it was such fun

Paul also used to write a weekly gardening column for the Free Press’ former sister paper, the Bridlington Gazette and Herald and he is well-known from his work at Sewerby Hall and Gardens.

He said: “I would just like to say a special thank you to every group who has booked me and I can honestly say hand on heart, I do not have any regrets or bad memories of any of them.

“I hope people who love gardening and a good laugh will come and see me on April 4.”

Tickets are priced £250 and can be reserved by calling Paul on 403435 or contacting him on Facebook.