Byline: WAYNE FRANCIS;ALISON BOSHOFF
HER wholesome image has been nurtured as carefully as her favourite plants.
But Charlie Dimmock's reputation as a simple soul happiest in her garden was looking a little withered yesterday.
The star of BBC's Ground Force has been concealing a complex love life more tangled than her famous red hair.
Her 13-year relationship with boyfriend John Mushet has ended in recriminations and bitterness after he discovered she had been having an affair.
Mr Mushet, 40, said he had walked out of the 17th century cottage they shared in Hampshire after discovering that Miss Dimmock had a six-month affair with Andy Simmonds, a sound engineer on Ground Force.
The garden pond merchant said fame and her new life in show-business had changed his girlfriend from the charming garden centre manager he had loved into a primetime prima donna.
'She is not the nice person everyone thinks she is,' he said. Their break-up had been long and messy, as he had forgiven her for cheating on him only to find out months later that her affair was still going on.
As Mr Mushet's account of Miss Dimmock's infidelities was published in a Sunday newspaper, the lover with whom she betrayed him also had harsh words for her.
'Basically she tricked me into bed,' Mr Simmonds said. 'If I had known she was still in a relationship I wouldn't have got involved.
'I thought she had finished with John. She said it had ended. I feel misled and let down by her. Our affair is now well and truly over and I haven't seen or spoken to her for a while.' Mr Simmonds, 29, was speaking from his parents' home at Cosham, near Portsmouth, 20 miles from the pretty waterside cottage where Miss Dimmock made a home with Mr Mushet in Romsey. Yesterday the 34-year- old TV gardener returned there briefly to visit friends, leaving in dramatic style, lying under a blanket on the back seat of a minicab. …