The Autistic Gardener Series 2 Episode 2

The Autistic Gardener Series 2 Episode 2

In The Autistic Gardener Series 2 Episode 2 Alan Gardner is off to Bristol to meet Ig and Jo who are spending £15,000 on their garden's makeover.

Ig and Jo with Alan Gardner

Ig and Jo moved to the suburbs of Bristol 16 years ago, moving  into a 1930s Semi with a 100ft rear garden. 

Along with their children India and Poppy, at one time the garden was well used as a play area as well as for entertaining.

Ig and Jo

However, the garden has now become neglected, a dumping ground of old play equipment and rubbish, with brambles and weeds taking over. 

The couple are now also parents to 9 year old Ralphie, who has Downs Syndrome.

He is an atomic bomb of energy who takes up all their spare time, leaving none for the garden.


After seeing Alan Gardner on the telly, they were impressed with how he works his designs almost like Alchemy. 

Alan arriving in suburbia is unable to get his usual inspiration from the mundane surroundings and heads to their garden.

After welcome hugs, Alan sees the garden for the first time, they called it a view, Alan looked but could not see it as a view, just stuff and weeds. 

Ig and Jo with Alan Gardner

They have fenced off a space for Ralphie in the middle but even that is overgrown. 

Either side of that is the top section and a bottom section, summed up by Alan in ever increasing screams of horror!

What do Ig who is a writer and College Assistant Jo want from their garden? A family area, a play area, a sanctuary, a more controlled garden.

before garden

The garden is 111ft by 23ft and overwhelms Alan in its present chaotic state. 

Inspiration is lost at first as the garden could be anywhere. 

The only glimmer comes from their wish for order in the garden.

Alan Gardner in Los Angeles

Alan heads off to Los Angeles, California, after a bit of sight seeing which he does not enjoy due to the sensory overload. 

He heads to high up in the hills to The Gardens of the Getty Centre

There is nothing random in the garden its pure geometry, and works so well in this garden, that Alan absorbs all the order and patterns.

The Gardens of the Getty Centre

Alan designs the garden with this geometry in mind, spirals, curves and most of all order. He decides to divide the garden
 into 3 zones. 

In the first zone, there will be a cedar deck seating area that will be sunk into the ground.

In the central, second zone, there will be a circular entrance / exit  and it will contain Ralphie's play area.

In the third, final zone there will be a bespoke writers pod for Ig and a swirling family area.

garden plan

Alan presents his designs to Ig and Jo, they looked mystified and have problems visualising the shapes, zones and curves of the design.

Too late to change their mind, Anthony and his team Berry Landscapes Ltd begin the mammoth task of just clearing the site of the 6 skip loads of rubbish.

Berry Landscapes Ltd

Alan meets Jo at the University of Bristol Botanic Gardens a plantaholics paradise. 

Jo has no idea why she has been brought here, Alan shows her how the plants follow mathematical sequences. 

Alan Gardner

Fibonacci number sequences, a pattern that will eventually lead to a spiral in a grid. 

Fibonacci will bring order to the garden not only with the planting but also in the structures like Ralphie's play area.

Alan Gardner

The circular arches that lead you from space to space are added, already creating windows and definition to the garden. 

Ralphie play equipment designed by Ollie arrives and its going to be a tight fit to even get it in the garden. 

Ralphie is not impressed with his first look but this could be down to him not adapting well to change... hopefully!.

play equipment

The timber decking is in progress for the sunken seating area.

For Ig's den / escape pod, Alan goes to Kings Cross Railway Station for inspiration. 

Alan likes trains and train stations. Ig arrives baffled to why he is there and even more surprised as to how this relates to his den. 

Kings Cross Railway Station

They look up at the 150 metre framework of the roof, forming a repeating pattern of triangles in a tornado shape. 

Wayne and Deano are to build the geometrical design made up of triangles all joined together.

Laguna Beach, California is Alan next stop on his American tour to visit a private garden designed by Ken Smith Workshop.

Ken Smith Workshop

Alan is really taken with the striking red handrail that weaves throughout the garden terraces, full with drought resistant planting.

Alan final design the spiral is for the family area, that brings the whole garden together. 

Using 4 tons of pebbles they are sunk into a cement dry mix to form a spiral pattern.

The planting scheme

The planting scheme is to bring the same geometric magic to the garden as the landscaping and structures. Using Echinacea, Aster with their Fibonacci number of petals.

The Grand Reveal

Alan wonders if his level control was set to just right

Jo is excitedly waiting for the sweet shop of delights to open and Ig hasn't felt so nervous / excited since their wedding!

Alan says he has nailed it, he painted a picture and its right, whether they like it or not.

Alan Gardner Ig and Jo

After 10 days of hard work and clearance Ig and Jo open their eyes. They are really surprise and question is this really ours.

The pair don't know where to look first and they love their new garden.

Finished garden

The sunken seated area is eye level with the plants and gives a new perspective to the garden.

They compare it to the rock pools they love to explore with Ralphie.

Ralphie's play area with its large play structure, he can climb over it, go under it, den build and slide down it, most of use his imagination.

Finished gardenFinished garden
Finished garden

In the end zone, the Fibonacci spiral design continues out of the garden and possibly around the world with the centre piece being a bespoke fire ball of the family.

Ig's retreat pod is completely bespoke with its own sun roof, the triangular panelled structure self supporting the walls and roof.

Tears of joy, Ig and Jo love it. The family join them and Ralphie loves his play area, everyone is trying to claim Ig's pod. 

Finished garden

All brought together by geometry and Alan's amazing gift of taking an idea and using all elements to grow it into an outstanding design.

The reveal day ends with the fireball ablaze with the family's silhouettes lighting up the night sky. 

Not even an overspend to £19,000 dampens the magic of the garden.

Alan Gardner Ig and Jo

All photographs are copyright of Channel 4

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