The Autistic Gardener Series 2 Episode 3

The Autistic Gardener Series 2 Episode 3

In The Autistic Gardener season 2 episode 3 we visit South London and couples Tim and Claire, looking to spend £15,000 and Jess and Carl, looking to spend £10,000 on revamping their gardens.

In this The Autistic Gardener episode Alan Gardner travels to the suburbs of south London to design 2 gardens for semi detached neighbours Tim and Claire and Jess and Carl.

Tim and Claire

Tim and Claire moved into their house in South London 7 years ago and it was the garden that first attracted them to the property. 

The couple currently work from home organising theatrical workshops for children. 

Tim and Claire garden

Tim and Claire have 2 energetic children Joel, who is 8 and Joe who is 4.

With their busy work and home lives, their 110ft rear garden has been neglected.

Jess and Carl

Over the fence, next door lives Jess, who is an accountant and Carl a graphic designer.

They have tried with their garden, but as with their neighbours their busy lives gets in the way of gardening. 

Jess and Carl garden

The couple also have 2 children, Finley, who is 7 and 4 year old Ellis, who Jess describes as high maintenance and intense!

The couples have bonded and formed a close friendship through the children playing together. 

Jess and Carl Tim and Claire

The children have over time, merged their 2 gardens into 1 big playground.

The neighbour's found Alan through social media, Alan is going to find this a challenge with 2 differing opinions, 2 budgets and 2 gardens to complete.

Alan is also face blind so getting the gardens right for the right people will be fun!

Tim and Claire

Alan first meets Tim & Claire with his customary hug, the garden is huge with the end of the garden housing the national collection of bindweed.

What they want is a garden for the children to play in, access to next door, a garden office, beautiful planting including lavender all for £15,000 budget.

Jess and Carl

Alan pops next door to hug Jess & Carl who have a budget of £10,000. 

They also have an overgrown wilderness at the bottom of the garden, including a unique mulberry tree in a fruit cage.

They want an end of garden Ibiza themed entertaining space, palm trees, tropical look and chill zone. They like calm unlike their children.


The gardens are both 110ft long by 30ft wide and Alan does not want to design them in isolation.

Even though the neighbours want different things from their gardens, both do have the children at its heart.

For inspiration, Alan revisits his 10 year old self by boarding a jumbo jet. 

Alan is fascinated by the jet engine and its design, this will be the gardens central feature and will unlock the whole design. 

Alan Gardner and jet engine

A spinning dish design creates a jet engine inspired passageway to unite the 2 gardens with stone walls jutting out into the gardens to mimic engine blades.

Jess and Carl will have a summer house in a Mediterranean meadow.

Tim and Claire get a more traditional space with an elegant studio with a child friendly turf mound.

Alan Gardner plans

The big plan is revealed and Alan is confident in his designs but not in revealing all to the neighbours. 

Tim and Claire's thoughts are that Claire thinks it looks amazing. 

Whilst next door Jess is not sure of the meadow and prefers the neighbours design! Is the turf mound greener on the other side?

Brain overload!

Berry landscapes

With just 10 days to do both gardens the build begins, with Alan amending the plans to keep Jess happy. Anthony and his team arrive for the mammoth task. Berry Landscapes

Alan has a change of plan for Jess and includes sparse Mediterranean planting instead of the meadow.

Jess and Claire are invited by Alan to see his jumbo and its jet engine, to explain the concept that the children's energy are at the centre of the spinning gateway feature. They get it and love it!

Austin Texas

Alan jets off to Austin Texas to see the garden of a modernist palace.  

Behind the house a stunning stainless steel staircase leads you down to the lower levels of the garden, see this Garden Design Article

Alan met with Rick Sheen the designer at Landwest Design Group  and they discuss how he has taken the design of the house and spread it out into the garden. 

Alan decides to make his central design from scaffold poles to bring this cool steel look into the garden.

scaffold poles

Alan next design is borrowed from the 14 metre high structure, 
Serpentine's Pavilions outside the Serpentine Gallery in London to create his concrete radiating walls, building blocks like Lego, jutting out. 

Jess and Carl start comparing their size of concrete base to Tim & Claire's, whose base looks definitely bigger and better. 

Jess and Carl

Are the bases really bigger on the other side? 
Will the garden envy subside by the final reveal?

Jess and Carl do find the contemporary summer house with porcelain tile patio area amazing and a lot more finished than their neighbours and a naughty Carl hopes better!

Tim & Claire grass mound design idea takes shape. Alan is breaking the rules of a flat lawn, he wants a fluid shape, curved, playful and fun. 

The Lady of the North

He takes them to visit Northumberland to see The Lady of the North. A huge land formed sculpture rising out of the landscape. 

Alan explains his concept will be based on a frisbee or bottle top shape crashed at an angle.

Tim looks perplexed , Claire does not want novelty or Alice in Wonderland (poor Alan let that slip!). The Land Trust site

Both gardens are now troublesome. Alan has blown his leg off. But he is sure it will be fine now he has toned it down a bit.

Alan Gardner at Zilker Botanical Gardens

Alan is back in Texas for hot planting inspiration at Zilker Botanical Gardens in the shadow of Austin, to admire the vast collection of foliage plants. 

The planting Scheme for Jess & Carls Mediterranean garden has to be suitable for the London climate, he hopes it makes a structural curtain of plants, with Crocosmia and Perovskia (Russian Sage) both silver foliage plants.

The gardens all comes together and Alan hopes they appreciate it.

The Grand Reveal

Tim and Claire are excited for the big reveal but they don't want to be disappointed.

Jess and Tim are nervous about the maze that Alan has designed.

Alan doesn't do nerves, but is feeling anxious about the fact he has 2 gardens and 2 clients to please. 

Both families also have to like the central point, the energy of the garden and the children's gateway.

Jess and Carl

Jess and Carl's big reveal and hug comes first. Starting with the trickier of the 2 neighbours to please!

'WOW', 'oh my goodness', 'stunning' , 'looks amazing' and thank you so much are their initial reactions to their new garden.

Jess and Carl's finished garden

Not only do they have the summerhouse dining area and patio seating area, a sail sunshade, hanging tree seat.

There is also a jet swirl inspired screened patio and beautiful planting throughout finishes off this garden.

Tim and Claire are next for the big reveal of their new garden and hugs.

Tim and Claire Alan Gardner

'WOW', 'so beautiful', 'look at the plants', 'so amazing' and 'I love it so much' whilst bouncing up and down is their initial reaction to their new garden. 

Tim and Claire garden
In their new garden, there is the office pod, a climbing ladder and den for the children as well as the mound (which they loved).


In and out of the maze, running up the walls, rolling down the mounds, as much energy exuded as a jet engine at full throttle.

garden maze

After all its the central energy of the children replicated in the central maze that was to make these gardens turn out so amazing.

Meeting over the garden fence, Alan reveals Tim & Claire final costing was £16,500 and Jess & Carl £11,500. 

Not bad they decide as Alan bids farewell to the happy clients and over excited children.

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