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The Garden Expert downs tools aged 85: Dr David G Hessayon blames Google for withering book sales

  • Dr David Gerald Hessayon, 85, has sold more than 50million books
  • Has blamed the internet for the decline of his DIY gardening titles

By David Wilkes for the Daily Mail

Published: 02:00 GMT, 30 November 2013 | Updated: 02:02 GMT, 30 November 2013

Retiring: Dr David Hessayon is retiring from writing after selling more than 50million books

The world’s favourite gardening author is retiring from writing after selling more than 50million books.

Generations of gardeners have learnt their skills with the help of Dr David Hessayon’s Expert series on how to make things grow.

But at the age of 85, he has announced he won’t commit another word to paper – and warned young authors they are unlikely ever to repeat his success because of the internet.

The multi-millionaire known as Doc made his surprise announcement at the Garden Media Guild Awards in London this week, and received a standing ovation from a star-studded audience including TV gardeners Alan Titchmarsh, Diarmuid Gavin, Joe Swift and Carol Klein.

‘In the future I’ll offer people gardening advice but I won’t write any more,’ said Dr Hessayon, who is the best-selling non-fiction writer in the world.

‘At 85, I’m entitled to stop. I won’t write my autobiography though because I’m bored of hearing about myself so God knows what everyone else feels.’ 

Lamenting the decline of DIY guides, he said: ‘They’ve been quite badly hit in the last few years. Five years ago, all the best-selling gardening books were how to do it books.

'Now it’s look at my garden or look at other people’s gardens. To write a bestseller now you need to choose something you can’t look up on Google.’

Half of all British homes are said to have at least one of his series of DIY gardening books, which started in 1958 with Be Your Own Gardening Expert.

Warning: Dr Hessayon has warned young authors they are unlikely to repeat his success due to the internet

They are known for their formula of down-to-earth writing with pictures, charts and photographs.

Looking back on his career, Dr Hessayon said: ‘There was a great era when people wanted information from books.

'My The Bedding Plant Expert was in the top ten of all non-fiction books, but that won’t happen again.

‘The garden reference book market has declined because of the internet. If you have a problem you go on the internet. I pity anyone new coming into writing.’

Dr Hessayon studied botany and chemistry at Leeds University, before being awarded a PhD in soil science from Manchester University.

He later became managing director of Pan Britannica Industries, the makers of Baby Bio plant food. 

He lives in a 25-room Georgian mansion in Essex with 27 acres of gardens, containing every one of the 10,000 plants he has written about. 

But five years ago he admitted that tending his own roses and shrubs no longer gave him pleasure, because he knows too much for it to be therapeutic and ‘can see problems about to happen’.

Popular: Half of all British homes are said to own at least one of his DIY gardening books, including The Easy-Care Gardening Expert and The Bulb Expert

Speech: The author made his surprise announcement at the Garden Media Guild Awards in London this week

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