Charlie Dimmock’s remarkably calm as she reveals that her garden has been under attack from a rather unexpected enemy of horticulture.

Her pet horse recently escaped its paddock and ran amok, churning it into a muddy mess and leaving it far from the manicured plot you’d expect to belong to a former star of BBC’s Ground Force.

She’s laughing as she tells the tale and it emerges that she’s as cheerily philosophical about a garden disaster as she is about most other things in her life, from the fading of her fame, to being single, ageing and not having children.

“It’s quite nice not to have such a high profile these days, but I’m sure my agent wouldn’t agree!” says Dimmock, who lives in a cottage in the New Forest.

She currently lectures and promotes gardening campaigns as well as regularly starring in panto.

It’s a far cry from the days when she was a TV regular presenting programmes such as The Joy Of Gardening, her own series, Charlie’s Garden Army, a successful garden show in America, and reporting from The Chelsea Flower Show.

“Well, one very positive thing is I can pootle about in public nowadays and get things done quite quickly.

“Before, when people came up to me because they recognised me, going to the garden centre or the supermarket could take an age,” she says.

At 46, with her mane of red curls only lightly touched with grey, she still looks youthful, and it’s not hard to see why she was described as “horticultural viagra” when Ground Force was on our screens for nine years until 2005.

Her 2000 calendar even outsold one produced by underwear model Caprice.

“Do I miss those days? Yes and no, we all had such good fun on Ground Force. It was a really good laugh but a bit mad at the same time with all the attention. Sometimes I thought, ‘Hey, I’m just a gardener – what’s going on? This is bizarre’.

Bizarre is certainly how she regards the fuss made about her not wearing a bra and her tag of a ‘sex symbol’.

“All that business about my bras, or lack of it, got very boring after a while. I didn’t wear one because if you’re swinging a pick axe or a sledgehammer, they’re very restrictive.

“Even a sports bra rides up and can be hot and uncomfortable to wear for hours at a time, and on the show we often worked 12 hours a day.

“And sex symbol? Well, it was flattering, I suppose, but not how I thought of myself at all.

“Luckily, quite early on in my career, Esther Rantzen warned me that the media likes to pigeonhole people.”

She inherited the house in 2004 when her 59-year-old mother, Sue, and her stepfather, Rob, died in the Asian tsunami. After the tragedy, Dimmock turned down all work for two years.

Gradually she’s had the three-bedroom property adapted, with raised height toilets and fittings ready for a stairlift, so it’s suitable for her in old age.

“Well, I’m probably going to be an old dear living here with my animals, the horse and cats and dogs, and I don’t want to not be able to get upstairs,” she says briskly.

Rather than seeing it as premature, she regards it as common sense.

“I’m a gardener and we’re always planning for the next season. You have to be ahead of the game so you’re not caught out by nature and I see this as the same sort of thing.

“You can’t keep age at bay and I’m quite relaxed about it.

“I try to take care of myself by using sun screen and a brilliant hand cream . I really need that as working in wet soil can make my hands chapped and dry.

“But that’s as far as I go. I’m avoiding frightening face lifts and will probably end up with a sort of saggy bloodhound look later in life.”

She’s single and clearly content with her own company.

“I love being with friends and family but there are occasions when I have a grump on and I just turn on the answerphone and have some solitary time.

“Of course, if a partner comes along one day, that’s fine, but if one doesn’t, that’s okay too. I’m certainly not going to go out speed dating!

“I wasn’t ever one of those people who had a dream of marriage and children. I’m quite traditional, and if I’d had a child, I would have felt guilty if I was working and not around to look after it properly.

“But I don’t have regrets because in my life I’ve had the opportunity to do extraordinary things and meet extraordinary people.

“Wing-walking strapped to a bi-plane which flew down the Thames, meeting people like Nelson Mandela and going to the Falklands and Uganda aren’t bad for someone who thought they were just going to spend their life gardening for a living.”

As well as her work, she’s committed to helping charities including Dreamflight, which takes 192 deserving children on holiday to Florida every year.

Dimmock confesses she herself rarely holidays, preferring to enjoy time at home, currently consumed by putting right her horse-damaged lawn.

“I do tend to look on the positive side of things,” she says as she pulls on her wellies.

“I firmly believe in that saying, ‘Smile and the world smiles with you’.

“It might sound a bit Pollyanna-ish and probably irritates some people to death, but there you go, I can’t change my nature.”