PERSONAL: Male. Education: Studied gardening at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. Hobbies and other interests: Traveling.
ADDRESSES: Home—Flamstead, Hertfordshire, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Kyle Cathie Ltd., 122 Arlington Rd., London NW1 7HP, England.
CAREER: Has worked as a professional gardener and as a broadcaster on radio and television, including BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Questions Time, the ITV program How Does Your Garden Grow?, and BSkyB's Good Life Channel The Cook's Garden; has appeared on television programs, including a kitchen gardening series.
Matthew Biggs's Complete Book of Vegetables: The Practical Sourcebook: Growing, Harvesting and Cooking Vegetables, Kyle Cathie (London, England), 1997.
(With Roy Lancaster) What Houseplants Where, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.
Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruit: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Laurel Glen (San Diego, CA), 2002.
(With John Cushnie, Bob Flowerdew, and Bunny Guiness) Gardeners' Question Time Plant Chooser, Kyle Cathie (London, England), 2003.
Contributor of articles about gardening to magazines, including Garden and Gardener's World.
SIDELIGHTS: Matthew Biggs began his love affair with plants and gardening at a young age when his father used to take the children for walks in the country to learn about the local plant life. Biggs went on to study gardening and establish a successful career as a professional gardener, and he has become known for his keen experimentation with unusual varieties of vegetables and his new approaches to cultivation. He has also established a career as a radio and television broadcaster, providing expert commentary and advice on plants and gardening. "It's difficult to identify exactly why I enjoy gardening, but it just strikes a chord with me," Biggs said in a profile on the British Broadcasting Corporation Web site. "Ignoring the hard work, plants and gardens are inspiring, uplifting, fascinating and perfect, and their sheer beauty is hard to beat. They're just amazing!"
Biggs has also written extensively about gardening and plants for various publications and is the author or coauthor of several books. In What Houseplants Where, Biggs and Roy Lancaster provide a guide on choosing and caring for houseplants. Intended for both the novice and experienced houseplant gardener, the book is organized into two-page sections focusing on room characteristics, such as large or small rooms or rooms with little or full light, and on the specific plant features, such as their need for light or their flowering fragrances. The book contains color photographs of more than four hundred houseplants, including specialist plants such as ferns, palms, and orchids. Everyday care advice is also offered on long-term care, propagation, and controlling diseases and pests. Writing in Booklist, George Cohen called the book a "handy guide." While Library Journal contributor Sue O'Brien noted that the book neglects important information, such as the need for poinsettias to have complete darkness for an extended length of time if they are to flower for a second year. Flower and Garden reviewer Jonathan Prebich wrote that the book "is full of excellent hints and how-to information" and added that "this truly is a magnificent book."
Biggs is also the author, with John Cushnie, Bob Flowerdew, and Bunny Guinness, of Gardeners' Question Time Plant Chooser. Based on the "plant of the week" feature on the BBC radio program Gardeners' Question Time on which Biggs appears, the book covers each season of the year as it instructs gardeners on how to take care of their plants year round. It focuses on such topics as the types of soil preferred by various plants, their flowering seasons, and their hardiness. Bookseller contributor Hilary Cole called the book a "beautifully illustrated plant chooser."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 1998, George Cohen, review of What Houseplants Where, p. 47.
Bookseller, May 30, 2003, Hilary Cole, review of Gardners' Question Time Plant Chooser, p. 33.
Flower and Garden, January, 2000, Jonathan Prebich, review of What Houseplants Where, p. 12.
Library Journal, October 1, 1998, Sue O'Brien, review of What Houseplants Where, p. 125.
British Broadcasting Corporation Web site, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ (January 31, 2005), "Mathew Biggs."