Love Your Garden: Series 10 Episode 3 An Extra Special Seaside Garden

Love Your Garden: Series 10 Episode 3  An Extra Special Seaside Garden

The story behind the garden

In this week episode Alan Titchmarsh is in Farncombe, Surrey to surprise a little girl and her special family coping with an unbearable loss. 

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First to open the door is Keith, who is dad to Kirsty, who they are there to surprise. Visibly shocked and a few 'oh my god' he greets Alan.




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Kirsty is called from upstairs and Phoebe is already on the door step awaiting a cuddle from Alan.

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Kirsty has 3 year old twins. Phoebe and Sam and they have lived in their house for just 3 months.

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Dad Keith and Step mother Jan are round to help Kirsty.

Phoebe has Stickler Syndrome, which effects people in different ways. 

Phoebe is very short sighted, as well as being deaf and having a cleft palate she also does not have a bridge to her nose. They are also finding out if she also has Autism.

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Phoebe has a lot to cope with but Kirsty describes her as 'their little pocket rocket'.

Kirsty father and herself also suffer from Stickler Syndrome.

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This is Kirsty 'normal' so doesn't affect her day to day life as this is all she has known.

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Kirsty met her husband Kevin 7 years ago and they married in 2013, Kevin died tragically in January.

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On New Years day Kevin was taken to hospital with a Brain Aneurysm, he died 9 days later at just 38 years old.

In a short few days Kirsty was left to bring up the twins alone and she still expects him to walk through the front door as if nothing has happened.

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They are all outdoor people, Kirsty has lost more than just her soulmate, husband and father to her children but also her eyes and ears and all the help he gave them.

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Angela Fisher, Kirsty Mum speaks about how Kevin was her daughters back bone and how life is so much more difficult for her now.

Taking Phoebe to the park is difficult because of her vision and hearing problems let alone, with Kirsty having her own limitations.

Without Kevin to help the family spend most of their time at home and with her hands full at the new house, there has been no time for the garden.


The garden
The garden is unsafe for the children and having a garden that's suitable for them all will take a huge weight off Kirsty.

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The garden is large and sloping, and has no features or stimulation for the children.

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Kirsty explains that Phoebe other senses are really good. With her visual problems she needs bright colours and glittery things.

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The garden needs to be safe, somewhere they can relax and feel happy.

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Alan team of Landscapers arrive to clear the garden along with his trusty Love Your Garden design team David Domoney, Katie Rushworth and Frances Tophill or the 'garden whizz kids' as Alan called them.

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The garden has special challenges not only as it large and challenging, and the families needs are challenging, but because Alan has a sore throat!

David job is the seaside at the bottom of the garden to replicate the families 'happy place'. A play beach complete with beach hut.

Katie job is to tackle to the top bit which is to be extended for outdoor living, somewhere to entertain. This will be a covered veranda and patio.

Frances job is the middle of the garden and somewhere for the twins, somewhere exciting to use up their energy. A mini maze and sensory area with a raised play area.

Alan will tackle an area in the middle, to be Kirsty's area for some 'me' time whilst still watching the children. An all year garden building with seating.

The garden drops 2 metres from top to bottom so the slope needs to be tackled. Sleepers are used to create 4 level terraces in the garden.

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Each level will be a separate garden.


A work in progress
David first job is to create a snaking path to link up all the areas. 

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David is painting there existing shed to resemble a beach hut. 

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He has removed one side of the shed and with the apex roof it will look like a beach hut when painted up.

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To the bottom of the garden to cover the hedge he is adding boards to create a back drop.

He has used fence posts and batten to make the frame and then attached marine plywood to this.

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A mural is then painted onto the boards.

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David adds some large boulders to the beach area.

David large prop for the beach area has arrived. A boat bought for £100 off the internet.

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All aboard Katie as she jumps in for the maiden voyage down the garden.

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♫ Oh I do like to be beside the seaside ♫

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Next to arrive for more of the dramatic effects is a Cordyline Australis tree, a hardy palm that needs to be kept snow free on top as they push the leaves down and damage them. 

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The paint has not dried in the beach hut so Nicole who does the teams hair and make up steps in with her hairdryer to help style it dry.

David is adding accessories to his beach area.  

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He cuts some oak whisky barrels in half and plants costal plants like Erigeron Sea Breeze.


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In the opposite bed he is planting grasses to make them look as natural as possible and dotting in Pink Kaffir Lilies.

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He then secures the boat down and adds a mast then the giant sandpit beach is barrowed in and spread out.

He is using special kids sand which has been sterilized and is non staining.


Katie area the patio is being laid and the dining area is having some decking boards put down. 

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The covered veranda is going up.

Steps are then added to bring them down to the next level.

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Alan has asked Katie to pay tribute to Kevin and his organ donation by making a heather bed in the shape of a heart.

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Using white and purple heather she lays out the plants to form a patchwork of heather.

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She has added ericaceous compost and once planted they will need little maintenance and will all knit together.

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Katie adds her sunken trampoline and gives it a quick test.

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For the decking area, Katie is planting up some planters with Keith.  

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They chat about the genetic disease Stickler Syndrome that he suffers from as well as Kirsty and Phoebe.

It wasn't until Kirsty was diagnosed he was aware of his own diagnosis, he talks about the bullying he went through as a child and how with them all having the same syndrome, they pull together to help each other.

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He tells them that Kirsty been through so much not only having twins but also with Phoebe having the same problems and he feels Sam does get left out sometimes.

Keith talks about Kevin and how great he was and the shock of them losing him and how the family is grieving.


Frances raised platform play area consists of a decked area with a slide coming off it.

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Jumping down from the deck there is also a mini maze that Frances marks out so that wont have dead ends but exciting discoveries. She has not worked thati out yet!

Alan suggests a tree growing through the deck, shame the floor is finished and hole less.

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Frances calls on the help of David and Katie for a little job!

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A huge tree fern has arrived and needs manoeuvring into the garden and into the deck!

With 9 of them lifting it into place, Frances adds compost to the hole.

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Frances points out that you need to check the plant label to see if it has been legally shipped from Australia or Tasmania.

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Tree ferns do not have a root system at the bottom as the truck is the root system. They are not Winter hardy so the top will need fleecing to protect from frost.

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Frances and Alan team up to add the old  slide to the raised deck and Alan tests it out.

Jungle style planting is then added around the slide. Griselinia an evergreen hedge plant.

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Fargesia or Fountain Bamboo is next which is a low growing clump forming bamboo.

Bold foliage plants are added like Holly ferns, Fatsia and purple leafed Canna.

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The Canna, Alan is keeping in the pot so it can be removed in the Winter and protected and replanted in Spring.

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Frances starts planting up her maze with Euonymus with its light foliage will be easy to see for Phoebe. 

She is planting them very closely together to restrict their growth. The more you clip it the denser it grows.

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Frances is adding ship accessories to her play area, a ships wheel and telescope.

The surrounding planting is an sea of evergreens and pastel perennials.

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She has added fairy lights to the tree fern and rope round the bottom of it to soften the edge.  

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Frances then plants smaller ferns, Campanulas and Cyclamens in the troughs around it

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Frances adds a colour changing bubble light to the maze as a sensory item for Phoebe to explore.


Alan sanctuary for Kirsty is up and the straw thatched roof is on and is looking lovely.

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Alan is adding some pleached hornbeam trees for some elegant screening from the neighbours.

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The leaves will turn brown in the winter but they should stay on the tree.

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Alan is busy eating his lunch rather than finishing his area!

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The turf has arrived and Alan inspects it. He is pleased with the hard wearing green dwarf rye grass.

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Alan shows how to butt the lawn edges together using a kitchen knife to cut them and how to overlap and cut to get the perfect edge.

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Alan adds a beautiful Acer next to Kirsty seating area in memory of Kevin.


Alan visits Virginia Waters to see King's Copse a garden designed by Fiona Harrison and is a children's paradise.

Traditional features sit along side Will Wonka style children's wonderland.

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The box hedges double as an Alice in Wonderland type maze of clipped box and yew.

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Terracing to the top of the garden leads to an infinity pool which is hidden from the house by pleached hornbeam hedging.

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At the bottom of the garden is Jurassic Park Jungle made up of Gunnera, tree ferns and Acers all leading to a raised playhouse and rope sprung bridge.

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Alan wants the journey through their garden to be as much fun and having platforms built around trees is that you get close to the trees and become part of them.


David visits Jim and Gay in Wales at their fantasy children garden.

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They have used recycled objects to make the train in the garden, a barrel and a parasol base!

They built a tree house on an old tree stump with the help of their grandchildren.

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A fairy garden blend perfectly into the gnarled mossy roots of a tree making a magical fantasy of tiny proportions.

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An Indian style temple / space ship is made from concrete and 2,500 green glass bottles.

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An African music hut is next on the discovery list complete with grass roof.

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A living forest den built around an old fireplace, with its bamboo screen walls and brick painted books makes a wonderful hiding place.


What the garden means to the family
Alan takes Kirsty to the local pub for a chat.

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Alan asks Kirsty to tell him about her late husband Kevin. Kirsty tells Alan how loving and caring he was, with a fun side and infectious laugh.

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He never complained about how much extra he had to do for the family.

Kirsty tells how now she is on her own and the twins were just 2 years old she has had to keep going and not feel sorry for herself.

The couple had previously spoke about organ donation and on the tragic death of Kevin, 2 people were able to benefit from his organ donation.

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Kirsty now spends time helping the NHS Organ Donation scheme and spreading the word to help others.

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This garden is going to be a sanctuary and safe place for Kirsty, Phoebe and Sam to be free.

When asked what Kevin would think, Kirsty said he would be like 'I cant believe your having a drink with Alan Titchmarsh. To which Alan replied 'It's over rated'.

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Alan ends by saying Kirsty has been dealt a 'tough hand' but she determined not to let it get her down and how determined the team is to make a difference to their lives.

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As Alan thanks the team the garden is complete.


Grand reveal
The garden is multi levelled and filled with a wonderland of things for the children as well as a calm sanctuary for the whole family to enjoy.

Kirsty open your eyes


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Stunned silence... 'Oh my god' 'I feel all shaky' 'Brilliant' 'Amazing' 'I cant believe the transformation its amazing' 

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As Alan shows Kirsty round she spots the heart 'oh my goodness that's amazing' 'its lovely thank you that's amazing' .

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Alan points out more of the gardens amazing features including the tree for Kevin.

A simple heart felt 'Thank you' from Kirsty.

A play deck with slide and fairy lit tree fern.


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The maze with sensory light feature.

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A treasure island beach area complete with a boat and giant sandpit.

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A beach hut den.

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Seating area to relax and watch the children play.

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A seating area on the patio.

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The covered veranda dining room.

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The heart shape tribute to the Organ donation Kevin made.

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A tree for Kevin.


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Phoebe and Sam see the garden for the first time and waste no time getting down to play.

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As friends and family flood in the champagne corks pop as they see this amazing garden for the first time.

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Alan ends by saying 'a few days ago they were confined to the house, they now have their own world'.








NHS Organ Donation scheme



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