Love Your Garden Series 9: Episode 3 The Humble War Hero



The story behind the Garden
This week the team is in Grassmoor in the Derbyshire Dales to surprise an extraordinary Hero.

Alan Titchmarsh first surprises Margaret on the doorstep and then he surprises Jack who is still in bed.



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Jack & Margaret Parrott have lived in their bungalow for 20 years, Jack is 97 and Margaret 94 and they have been married for 67 years.

Jack the nimbler of the 2 is Margaret's carer, Jack does everything around the house including the cooking.


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75 years ago Jack, went to war after joining up at 18 to the Royal Army Service Corps, Territorial Army ending up as a dispatch rider relaying messages. 

Working mostly at night Jack had to memorise his route as he would be doing it with no lights on the bike.

In 1944 Jack was one of the 61,000 British soldiers to take part in D Day. Jack put his life at risk for his country, riding in total darkness and with the Luftwaffe overhead he took critical messages to the front line.


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Sergeant-Major James Bashford of the Mercian Regiment spoke of the role Jack played in D Day.

Jean-Claude Lafontaine Honorary Consul of France, East Midlands tells how humble Jack is about the heroic acts of his part in D Day and the war.

Jack & Margaret's Grandson Chris Parrott is a former Lance Corporal and has the utmost respect for his grandfather and what he did during the war.

Alan asks Jack if he was sacred by what he did. Jack said he did not think about it you just got on with it.

After the war, he and Margaret met, married and raised their family.


The Garden
The garden is now too much for Jack and with his carers role and physical problems.

The garden is very compact at 7 x 7 metres, with a shed to one side with Margaret's scooter in, and in another wooden storage box is Jacks scooter.

There are 2 lawns separated in the middle by a concrete path, Jack struggles to cut the lawns. 

There are now new houses and bungalows surrounding the garden and there is no views of the Yorkshire and Derbyshire moors anymore, just fences.

Alan is determined to get Jack and Margaret back out in their garden, as at the moment the surfaces are too uneven and Jack cannot bend down to potter in the garden.


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Alan Titchmarsh calls up his troops of David Domoney, Katie Rushworth and Frances Tophill and Landscape team Paragon Gardens.

David job is accessibility within the garden, as well as bringing it up to operational height, there also has to be storage for 2 mobility scooters.

Frances job is to make somewhere for Jack to potter.

Katie job is to make somewhere in the garden for Jack and Margaret to be together.

Alan job is to give them a view back and create some rolling Derbyshire countryside.

They are adding a new side gate with access to a mini scooter garage. there is a pottering area and small greenhouse by the back door. 

A bench is in the sunny bottom corner next to a gazebo to provide some shelter in the garden. 

This will all be connected by pathways that are smooth to walk on. The last feature are curved raised beds like the rolling hills.

Alan goes to visit a Japanese garden at Wharfdale to see how even the smallest garden can mimic nature but on a smaller scale. 


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Boulders become mountains and miniature topiary are the trees. Water plays a big part in the miniature landscape. 


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Next door is an Italian garden with a huge painted view behind a seating area.


A work in progress
David is using upright sleepers to create the curves in the raised beds.
He creates a dry Derbyshire dale river bed using pavers between the paving slabs to create a path.


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David starts work on the 'his n hers' parking including charging points. Alan tests out the completed scooter garage by whizzing off on a scooter (badly).

Katie has started putting up the gazebo  and bespoke bench out of offcuts of the sleepers from the raised beds. The bench also has a sweeping back to mimic the beds.


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Behind the bench Katie plants a Choisya for the scent, she plants a Hawthorn tree.

In the gazebo Katie adds some photos to the wall of Jack and Margaret and some comfy chairs. 


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Final touch some flowers the same as Margaret's wedding bouquet.

Frances is creating  a vintage workshop area for Jack to potter in and remind him of his dispatch days. 

A work bench will have all his tools, pots and compost in 1 place and somewhere for Margaret to sit and watch him.


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Some waist high window boxes are added under the windows for Jack to keep planted up. 

Frances starts them off with some herbs, grasses and meadow flowers. Lavender and thyme are added as they need hardly any watering or maintenance.


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A mini greenhouse is added and has good ventilation for the sunny back garden and adds Jacks seedlings.


Alan starts working out where to put his view and adds some battens to the fence and fixes a view of Lady bower Reservoir where the Dam busters carried out their practise runs of the bouncing bombs in Lancaster's. 

The poster was printed on to Aluminium boards so will weather ok.


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16 tons of compost mixed with top soil needs to be added to the beds, which they wheelbarrow in, in formation.

Alan wants to make the garden appear to be growing into the picture landscape. He plants a feathery silver birch in the corner, and then a Myrtle which is an evergreen and finally a Philotheca from Australia. 

He also adds some wildlife attracting plants and pollinators.  Blue flowered Brunnera, Scabious and lots of single flowered plants.


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Boulders are added to one of the beds and surrounded by hardy shrubs to give a moorland look. 

Alan adds a dwarf pine Pinus Mugo a slow growing doomed mountain plant. Ilex Crenata and Pittosporum and Azaleas are next to be planted up.

To add some colour Alan adds some yellow  Trollius, Saxifrages and Dicentra Bleeding Heart .


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Pebbles and rocks are added round the water feature.


Frances goes to meet intrepid amateur gardener Christine Davies who is a retired Biochemist in Norfolk. 

Christine loves building big features in her garden  and does the work herself. 35 years ago she made a huge feature wall and has since added a ruined castle and a 50ft pond.

Christine latest project is to add a bit of China and she making a small wall of China complete with a dragon head made of flint and a huge pond and island.


What this garden means to Jack & Margaret
This garden is a way of saying thank you to Jack for what he did for his country aged just 21 years old.

There are only 500 D Day Veterans still surviving and Alan takes Jack for a chat about his heroic deeds. 

Jack said as he worked in the pitch dark he was never sure if he was to get shot at but it was his job so he tried not to think about that. 

On his last Dispatch he got  hit on the forehead by a wire that was put across the road by the Germans. Luckily it broke or he would have been fatally injured. 

In 2018 Jack received from the French Government its highest award the Legion d'Honneur medal. Jack was surprised to get this.

The garden will mean so much to Jack and Margaret and brought tears to Jacks eyes just thinking about it.

Alan talks about how Jack does not see himself as special for what he has done and he now a full time carer and what a privilege and pleasure to give him and Margaret their garden back.

In the local park at Grassmoor Alan prepares the ground plants a tree to commemorate Jack he is helped by Jacks Grandson Chris a former Lance Corporal who was injured twice whilst serving in Afghanistan.
Chris talks about what an incredible man Jack is.


The Grand Reveal
Before the reveal David picks up Jack in an old motorbike and side car to take him to the local park for the tree planting ceremony. 


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Family, friends, the old regiment complete with goat mascot have all turned up to see Jack plant the tree and honour him and the other soldiers of the D Day landings. 


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The Yoshino Cherry Blossom tree has a plaque commemorating it to Jack and the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.


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Back in the garden. 


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Jack open your eyes.

Jack is at first speechless 'goodness gracious' 'that's absolutely fabulous' 'thank you sir'  The view goes down very well and the seating, the paths are great. 'couldn't do better than that'.


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Margaret open your eyes.


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Margaret too is speechless 'oh my goodness' before hugging Alan and tears. 'Beautiful cant believe it' Margaret is overwhelmed by it all.

They sit in the gazebo as their family all arrive to see the garden as the champagne corks pop.





Love Your Garden Get the Look

Article on Jack receiving Legion d'Honneur medal 

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful garden for a special man.
    What bricks did you use for the pathway?

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    Replies
    1. Good evening Ella Mom to Thomas
      Most of the landscaping is in the link above 'Love Your Garden Get the Look'.
      This is what it says on the link:

      Pavestone – Slimsett Anthracite

      For Jack’s garden the team wanted to give him Derbyshire in a pint pot. Along with the slate paving we wanted to create the feeling of water through the garden. The Slimsett Anthracite by Pavestone did the trick and not only compliments the slate but you can create beautiful curves with the setts.

      As Jack and his wife both use mobility scooters the slate paving and Slimsett was prefect for them. It is smooth enough for the scooters and has enough grip for them when they are walking around the garden.

      Pavestone has three options with this type of sett paving which means you can achieve different styles within your own garden.

      To find out more you can visit their website on the link below.

      Price: £30 per square metre (At time of filming Summer 2019)

      Link: www.pavestone.co.uk

      Hope you are enjoying the blog
      Best wishes
      Pete Free ��

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