Love Your Garden Series 10 - Episode 2 - The Cake Lady

Love Your Garden Series 10 - Episode 2 - The Cake Lady

In Love Your Garden series 10 episode 2,  
Alan Titchmarsh is in Hall Green, Birmingham to surprise 'The Cake Lady' as she is known by the Veterans she helps.

Turning up at her first floor flat Alan tries to keep his presence a surprise as he rings the video doorbell to go in.

Alan goes up the stairs and meets a shocked Kath Ryan and is greeted by several 'oh my god's.  

Kath's 1st floor flat is also where she makes all her wonderful cakes.

A hug from Alan
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After a huge hug and a few more 'oh my gods', Kath explains how she became disabled whilst working as a nurse.

Whilst was moving a 27 stone patient she ruptured a disc in her back and lost the feeling and use of her left leg.

Kath retired due to her ill health, she then decided not to sit at home but to get out there and do things.

Army Memorabilia
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Alan points out a case full of army memorabilia which has all been given to her by injured veterans.

In 2009 her sister was ill in hospital and Kath took cakes in for her.

Birmingham Hospital, at that time had lots of injured Veterans from Afghanistan and they got to share the cakes and Kath was encouraged to bake even more for them too. 

There were 35 in the hospital at that time so Kath was kept busy baking!

Kath's cakes
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She could see the joy these cakes were bringing and the memories of 'homemade cakes' .

Over the 10 years Kath has made 1,250 visits with cakes, making 26,000 cakes a year during the Afghanistan conflict. A quarter of a million cakes!

Her cakes equate to  love, hope and compassion of a fellow man, showing someone cares.

Michael Coates
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Michael Coates, Veteran Royal Engineers talks about how Kath has helped thousands of people when they are at their lowest point. 

'She is the militaries best kept secret'.

David Wiseman, former Captain of The Yorkshire Regiment tells us 'however tough you think you are, you need that kindness'.

David Wiseman
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Jake Cummins Veteran, Royal Engineers talks about how on his 2nd tour of Afghanistan he got blown up and sadly lost both of his legs. 

Waking up from a coma, Kath gave him some Bakewell Tart and 'it was the best thing ever'.

Major Saran Thom, Deputy Officer Commanding Nursing tells how Kath is a friend and mother figure to the patients she helps.

Kath delivering cakes
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Kath does the 3 hour round trip to The National Rehabilitation Centre Stanford Hall to take her cakes, love and kindness to the service people going through recovery.

Nathan Jones, Royal Airforce Pilot tells how everyone going through rehab would have met Kath at one time or other and in such a positive way.

It is these Veterans that have asked Alan to help do a garden for Kath. 

Julie Drake
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Julie Drake, wife of a veteran, as well as Kath's friend, tells how amazing it will be for Kath to have them come to hers and have a cuppa and cake with her.

Kath shows Alan her tiny kitchen where she bakes all her cakes! 

Kath says its chaos when she is baking.

Alan in Kath's Kitchen
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Alan tells her how the Service men and woman have asked him to do a garden for her but he is confused where it is as she lives in a first floor flat.

Kath points out the garden is separate and beyond her neighbours garden, which for this reason is very neglected and overgrown.

Alan leaves the kitchen with a cake!


The garden
The garden is a 20ft walk from the front door, down a passage, at the side of a garage.

Kath's overgrown garden

The alley way is strewn with rubbish and overgrown plants and weeds.

Alan calls it 'a lovely blank canvas'.

The fence is rotten and falling down, an overgrown hedge and a wilderness of weeds make up the plot.

Kath's overgrown garden and falling down fence
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Alan asks about her ideal garden. 

Kath wants somewhere for the boys to come for a cuppa as because her flat is on the 1st floor, access is an issue, and they have to drink tea on the driveway.

Somewhere to teach baking to the Veterans, which Kath sees as an impossible dream.

So a garden for 'Tea and Sympathy'.

The garden is not just for Kath but will benefit a lot of people.

Contractors clear the area and put up new fencing
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Alan team of contractors make a start clearing the plot and replacing the fencing.

Alan team of David Domoney, Katie Rushworth and Frances Tophill arrive to hear what is planned for this special garden.

Kath has made more 'hot cakes' than Alan has made gardens he tells them.

David Domoney, Katie Rushworth and Frances Tophill arrive
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The garden is to be a 'tea garden'.

David's job is to be in charge of making the access suitable for all users including those in wheelchairs. 

There will be an entertainment area with seating surrounded by trees and climbers.

Frances' job is to create Kath's dream, a place indoors to cook. 

Frances points out she is a gardener not a kitchen fitter! Alan says her job is both today! 

An edible garden will be next to it to provide ingredients for the kitchen

The balcony at Kaths flat
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Katie's job is to makeover the tiny balcony area in Kath's flat and to make it beautiful with window boxes and fragrant planting.

Alan's job is to create an area for her to relax in and get respite. 

There will be a seating area with a living wall and tranquil fountain.

The garden plan
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This is a first for Love Your Garden, a balcony and a back garden


A work in progress
David starts work on the entertaining area by putting up trellis to make a garden room. 

He is using 1ft trellis then 4ft trellis to make it look better than just one big trellis panel, which he then is going to paint to give an upmarket look.

David puts up supporting posts
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David is then putting in supporting posts to create a bespoke pergola for shade and to enclose the area.

He has chosen to make one, rather than use a kit, so that he can get it to fit in the awkward area he wants covered.

A kit would cost approximately £300 but if you are practical the timber can cost a lot less to buy and design your own.

'Cosy and classy' David says.

The paving has been laid but now David needs this cut for planting holes.

Pink Camellias are planted in the spaces
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To add some vertical height pink Camellias are planted in the spaces.

These are evergreen and the trunks are bare so they do not take up space.

To the pergola David is adding climbers to give off a lovely fragrance. 

David plants a honeysuckle
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He is planting Lonicera periclymenum 'Belgica' Early Dutch Honeysuckle.

The Honeysuckle smell heavenly and will flower all through Summer.

Next climber is a Clematis Montana with its abundance of pink flowers in spring. 

A honeysuckle flower
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A Passion Flower is next to be planted with its stunning flowers, which are late flowering and its interesting foliage.

This mix of climbers should give a succession of flowers.

Frances garden kitchen building is well on its way to being built.

They insulate and clad the inside so it can be used every day of the year.

Frances lays grey laminate flooring
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Grey laminate flooring is put down so that it is easy to clean and wont show the dirt so much.

The kitchen is being fitted by kitchen fitters not gardeners.

Frances is making some cupcake planters on the front drive using plastic barrel planters.

First she adds duct tape in a diagonal design to the top of the planters.

Cup cake planters
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Then she spray paints the barrels before peeling off the tape to reveal the design.

These are then planted up with one huge ball Chrysanthemum in each one to replicate the iced cupcake.

With the kitchen complete Frances starts work of the raised planters which are filled with soil.

Frances plants a mixture of fruit, herbs and flowers
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In the grow your own area she plants a mixture of fruit, herbs and flowers.

She starts by planting a dwarf root stock Brambly Apple and some blueberry plants.

in between she plants Arc Angelica and you can use the stems in baking.

Scott and Jack plant up some hanging baskets
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Frances enlists the help of Scott and Jack to plant up some hanging baskets. 

Both veterans have lost their legs and the fact someone comes in with cake and care means a lot to them.

There are thousands of veterans with injuries, some life changing that you never hear about and to come in and know each of them personally is amazing.

Kath with veterans
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'One of a kind'!

Katie is painting the walls of the balcony and has put up trellis which is being painted the same colour.

Under the trellis Katie adds a seat which is also a storage area and this will be painted the same colour.

Katie is adding a seat to the trellis she has painted
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Every feature on the balcony is to have a dual feature to make the most of the limited space.

The window box made of scaffold boards is also to double as a 'flippy flappy' drop down table for cups of tea and of course cake!

The window box/table
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They fix the window box to the existing railing and plant Lavender Hidcote for the amazing scent.

This is cut back in the spring so that it will then flower for 6 - 7 months.

Katie also has some flower troughs full of pink and blue flowers to fix to the trellis.

Flower troughs full of pink and blue flowers
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Katie is adding some decking tiles to the floor, which is a quick and easy way to brighten up the concrete floor.

Alan pops by to inspect what Katie has done and is impressed with her 'flippy floppy'!

Katie is planting up 1 of the 2 Crescent shaped beds Alan has created. 

She is mirroring Alan planting scheme but also adding Pittospurum with their chocolate colour stems.

Viburnum Tinus
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She also adds a Viburnum Tinus which is not only long flowering but has berries in the Winter.

To the bed she is also adding some perennials like Astrantia with their floating flowers.

Astrantia
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To prolong the flowers in June give it the Chelsea chop right to an inch from the bottom.

 It likes moist soil and semi shade.

Alan has a living wall system delivered, all ready built to save time. 

Living wall system
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It is a series of planters that you put pots directly in to. 

Alan fills it from the top with water which fills reservoirs for the plants. 

He plants it in diagonal drifts using Ivy, Ferns, Cyclamen and Heuchera in the west facing side of the garden seating area.

Winter flowering Pansies
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Because they are all in their pots you can move it around all the time, he adds some Winter flowering Pansies for seasonal colour.

Alan fountain has arrived which is to be the focal point in his relaxing seating area.

It is a 2 tiered Grecian Fountain, not posh then!

2 tiered Grecian Fountain
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It comes in 4 parts and is very heavy so it levelling it so the water flows properly is quite a tricky job, a few coins to help level the top helps.

Alan is underplanting this with some shade happy Ferns including Crested  Ferns and Hart's Tongue Fern.

Ferns like rich moist soil for them to thrive.

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Next to the seating area Alan is adding a fruiting tree, Chinese Dogwood Cornus Kousa and the fruit can be used in pies and jellies.

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Alan is planting up 1 of the 2 giant crescent shaped beds he has created to make the garden warm and welcoming, just like Kath.

He is layering the low maintenance bed by size and using a lot of flowering evergreens for all round interest and minimal maintenance.

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He is planting Hydrangea for their impact, Cotinus or Smoke Bush for the Autumn colour, Hebes, Euphorbia and Skimmina at the front.

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Japanese Anemone Ruffled Swan is added for a flowering touch to late summer and Autumn.

As a lovely surprise for the whole team Kath has left them cake!

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David's portion is a little of the large size!

The last feature in the garden needs them all to partake.

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They have messages from people that Kath has helped to tie to the Chines Dogwood Tree.

Alan visits Admington Hall which is open under the National Garden Scheme to the public.

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Its Edwardian formal gardens are the perfect spot to enjoy afternoon tea in the courtyard garden.


The topiary and intimate setting makes the garden very elegant and the various seating areas both in the sun and shaded by pergolas, make it perfect for tea drinking.

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In the rest of the garden, are wonderful water features including a calming circular fountain surrounded by grasses.

Pots and planters make striking focal points, filled with Hydrangeas including the variety Annabelle. 

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Alan finds a lovely seating area surrounded by Salvias and Scented Leaved pelargoniums that he wants to replicate in Kath's garden.


Balcony gardens
Kit Grover has a modern balcony garden and uses big plants and big containers to create a dramatic effect.

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If he was to use smaller plant clusters it would not make an impact, you do need to also check the floor or balcony can take the weight of these heavy objects.

The fire fighters of Surbiton started with just a fire bucket plant but now they have an amazing outdoor place.

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Simon Jakeman Firefighter says a lot of the planters are recycled objects like tyres, wheels and even helmets!

Louise Godding has a balcony leading from her main living room and uses it as an extension to this and uses the same design ideas both inside and out.

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Katie visits Wendy Shilam who garden includes an incredible mix of fruit, vegetables and plants and quirky touches all on her roof top garden.

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She has a shed and greenhouse and trellis to add height and has beans and flowers growing on them.

She has a retractable washing line above her lavender so the garden is not only beautiful but practical.


What the garden means to Kath
Alan is off with Kath to visit the Veterans at Stanford Hall complete with Kath's famous cakes and hugs.
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Kath says she never planned for all this to happen but when she baked her first cake she was taken aback by their courage, humour and cheek and decided after all they had been through it could not be a one off thing.

It is not just about the cakes, it letting them know people care and they are loved.

The courage and determination the veterans have to recover after their injuries is amazing.

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Mathew Edwards, Royal Marines has recently had his lower leg amputated talks about how Kath understands what they are going through. 

When your right at the bottom and Kath comes in with her cakes and hugs, it means so much to them.

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Rob Bugden RAF Parachute Instructor was injured during a jump of 12,000 feet which left him with a broken neck and spine.

Kath really keeps the morale up and looks after them all.

Alan asks Kath what difference a garden is going to make?

Kath explains what a huge difference it will make not only for the guys to come and sit and enjoy the tranquilty. It will also refresh her.

Kath says 'the most important thing is what ever has been done, is done with love, and that it is going to bring a lot of love to other people'!

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Alan wells up and agrees that it has been done with love.

Alan is left overwhelmed by Kaths abundance of love, affection and cakes she has given over the years. 

The love is felt back for Kath.

Alan wants Kath's garden to reflect all that love ❤

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The final touches and the garden is complete.


The Grand Reveal
Kath's Garden is now a 'Teatime Treat' a place to enjoy cake with people, but also a secluded haven.

Balcony area first- Kath open your eyes 
' Oh my goodness' 'That is so beautiful' 'Really, really lovely'.

Garden - Kath open your eyes

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'OH MY GOD' 'OH WOW' 'How is that even possible' 'Oh my god' 'WOW' 'you cant even, there is no comparison' .
Alan tells her she now has a 'Tea Garden' as he takes her round.

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She spots the fountain and says 'that's so tranquil and calming'

There so much to look at as she spots the beautiful planting.

'I am gonna live out here , I am gonna be camping under the stars tonight'.

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She is shocked at the kitchen and what was there before.

A bespoke pergola to enjoy cosy chats with tea and cake of course.

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Warm and dry seating area for all year round use and the cupcake planters

Grow your own rustic garden

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Seating area with living wall and fountain

She has no idea how to thank them enough, but Alan points out she has been thanked, not by just us, as he shows her the tree festooned in thank you messages.

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Alan shares one of the many messages with her.

Kath says what a wonderful place this is going to be to rest and refresh from her busy schedule.

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As friends and family flood in to see the amazing transformation, the corks pop and cake is sliced.

Hugs a plenty too.

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Kath thanks everyone as she starts taking bookings for her first garden baking lessons.

Alan ends by saying out of the 1000s of volunteers in Great Britain they wont have made the 1000s of cakes Kath has for 1000s of wounded veterans.

Kath is unique 'an unsung heroine that's now been well and truly sung'.







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