James Wong (ethnobotanist)

James Wong (born 26 May 1981) is an ethnobotanist, television presenter and garden designer in the United Kingdom,[1] best known for presenting the award-winning television series Grow Your Own Drugs, being a panellist on the long-running Radio 4 series Gardeners' Question Time, and reporting on the popular BBC rural affairs series, Countryfile.

James Wong
James Wong

(1981-05-26) 26 May 1981
OccupationEthnobotanist, television presenter, garden designer

Early life

Born in London to a Malaysian Chinese father and a British mother, Wong was brought up in Singapore and Malaysia. Upon being awarded an academic scholarship, he returned to the UK in 1999 to study at the University of Bath. He then trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the University of Kent, gaining a Master of Science degree in ethnobotany, graduating with distinction.


At the age of 27, Wong became the presenter of his own television series Grow Your Own Drugs. The award-winning BBC Two series demonstrates a number of natural remedies sourced from plants,[2] and soon became the highest-rated gardening series on UK television. The show ran for two series, as well as a one-off Christmas special, Grow Your Own Christmas. Wong's first two books that tied-in with each series of the television show became international best-sellers, with his third title Homegrown Revolution becoming the fastest selling gardening book in UK history.[3]

Wong is also a regular reporter on the hit BBC One rural affairs series Countryfile since its reformatting in April 2009, as well as being a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time, and presenter of the Channel NewsAsia series Expensive Eats.

In his capacity as a garden designer, he has become a four-time Royal Horticultural Society RHS medal winner[4] for gardens he co-designed through the design studio he co-founded, Amphibian Designs, at the Chelsea Flower Show and the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. In his first garden at the 2004 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, he became the youngest-ever medal-winning designer at the event, and is currently the youngest five-time RHS medal winner.[5]

Wong has designed an Ethnobotanical Garden for the University of Kent, where he is a guest lecturer.[6]

His research has taken him to highland Ecuador, as well as to China and Java.

In 2013 and 2014, he presented several episodes of Great British Garden Revival, winning 'Best Television Programme of the Year' at the 2014 Garden Media Awards.

Personal life

Wong lives in central London – "to be near the pretentious wine bars".[7] He speaks fluent Spanish, English, and Mandarin Chinese.

His mother is from Newport, Wales, and Wong retains a slight southern Welsh accent.[8]


Year Title Role Episodes
2008 Fossil Detectives Co-presenter All
Gardeners' World Guest presenter All
2009 Grow Your Own Drugs Series 1 Presenter All
Grow Your Own Drugs for Christmas Presenter All
Countryfile Co-presenter Various
2010 Grow Your Own Drugs Series 2 Presenter All
James Wong and the Malaysian Garden Presenter All
Countryfile Co-presenter Various
2011 The Fabulous Mrs Beeton Co-Presenter All
Countryfile Co-Presenter All
2012 Our Food Co-presenter All
The People's Rainforest Co-Presenter All
Countryfile Co-presenter Various
2013 Expensive Eats Co-presenter All
Countryfile Co-presenter Various
2014 Great British Garden Revival Co-presenter All
Countryfile Co-presenter Various
2015 Great British Garden Revival Co-presenter All
Countryfile Co-presenter Various
BBC Chelsea Flower Show Coverage Co-Anchor Various
2017 The Secrets of Your Food Co-presenter All
Springwatch Co-presenter "Springwatch in Japan: Cherry Blosson Time"


  • Wong, James (2009). Grow Your Own Drugs. Harper Collins.
  • Wong, James (2010). Grow Your Own Drugs – A Year with James Wong. Harper Collins.
  • Wong, James (2012). James Wong's Homegrown Revolution. Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  • Wong, James (2015). Grow For Flavour. Octopus Publishing Group.
  • Wong, James (2017). How to Eat Better. Octopus Publishing Group.


  1. "New Survey Reveals Three Quarters of Britons Eat Sprouts - LONDON, December 15 /PR Newswire UK/". LONDON: Prnewswire.co.uk. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  2. Kavanagh, Marianne (27 February 2009). "Grow your own drugs with James Wong". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  3. Archived 20 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "'The Burgbad Sanctuary' at The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2008". mp. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  5. "Chelsea Flower show winners announced". Country Life. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  6. Kavanagh, Marianne (27 February 2009). "Grow your own drugs with James Wong". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2009.
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/oct/25/gardens-james-wong-botanist
  8. "Grow Your Own Drugs". Lynne Allbutt. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
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