The Instant Gardener Series 1 Episode 4

The Instant Gardener Series 1: Episode 4

The Instant Gardener is Danny Clarke Garden Designer, who with the help of Helen Skelton and the Team, show us how to transform a problem garden, on a budget in just 1 day.

Today they are in Earls Barton near Northampton to help transform the garden of Lydia, Aydin Guclo and their sons Finlay and  Mavi 

6 Year old Mavi suffers from terrible hayfever and allergies so they want a low pollen, low allergy garden for the whole family to be safe in together.

Lydia and Aydin Guclo

They moved to their house just 6 months ago and have been busy renovating the inside so they have not touched the garden.

They want a family friendly garden, somewhere to eat outside and spend time together that is also low allergen and safe.

Danny Clarke and Helen Skelton

Danny hands Helen his shopping list and her and Lydia head off.

The Garden
The garden has a large lawn with dead patches where they have killed the weeds.

Before picture

On the lawn is a large trampoline and the grass is not good for the allergies.

Before picture

Next to the house is a large patio which is grubby and the only area in the garden for socialising.

At the end of the garden is a large unkempt Box hedge, which is not good for hayfever sufferers.

Before picture

The garden has no plants or flowers just a few weeds and bulbs in a small border along the fence line.

Danny's Design
The garden is a blank canvas so a lot easier for the team to transform.

To make the garden more low allergen, Danny plans to reduce the amount of lawn and weeds.

He plans on having 3 interlocking circles, one of lawn, one of gravel and the last a circular play area.

Dannys plan

These circles will be surrounded by low allergen planting.

The Box hedge although needs a long overdue trim, this cannot be done and should be cut after the last frost.

The patio area is going to be cleaned and the weeds removed.

A Work in Progress
The team helping Danny today are Aydin, Handyman AJ AKA Euan AJ Rose and Horticulturist Lou AKA Louise Hampden.

Danny first job is to mark out the 3 circles using a stick in the middle, some string tied to it and a can of marker spray paint.

Lydia mum Mel arrives to help out the team and she is a keen gardener and they set her to work pressure washing the patio.


They use a turf cutter to remove the excess lawn but the edges need to be cut by hand to ensure a nice line.

Lydia had applied some weed killer to patches on the lawn which also killed the surrounding grass so Danny is digging these out to replace with turf that has been dug up.

The marked out circles have gone with the turf so these are marked again on the dirt.

Danny Clarke AJ and Ayden

The circles to the gravel and the play area have aluminium edges added to keep in the gravel and rubber chippings.

The lawn has loads of allergy causing Dandelions and Danny has a tip for removing these from the lawn.

You need to remove all of the root so it doesn't regrow so Danny uses a fork to lift out a section of lawn and removes the Dandelion and puts back.

Danny is adding 3 trees to the garden.

Before the gravel and rubber chippings are put down a weed proof membrane needs to be laid.

Danny Clarke AJ and Ayden

The rubber chippings for the play area are a very vibrant blue and will make a safe play area and contain no fungal spores like bark.

It is time to start planting but first they lay out all the plants starting with the biggest first.

Danny has an Amelanchier Lamarckii Juneberry which flowers in the Spring and digs a square planting hole twice as big as the root ball/pot.

It is now thought best to have a square hole for the roots and it will need to be watered for 3-4 years after planting to keep it happy and growing well.

The next tree to plant is an Acer Palmatum 'Osakasuki' Japanese Maple which goes from green to red in the Autumn.

Danny Clarke

These needs a sheltered spot and if it starts to suffer it will need moving to a better sheltered spot.

Helen returns with the plants and she sets to work putting some in the pots on the patio.

Helen Skelton

Danny and Lou both love the colour of the Heuchera Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie' which look great next to New Zealand Flax Phormium 'Pink Stripe' and the blue rubber chippings.

The flax is not the sharp sort that would be a hazard near the play area but the soft leaf variety.

New Zealand Flax

All hands to the deck to get the planting done. Danny shows Helen a Siberian Bugloss Brunnera Macrophylla with its delicate blue flowers and he points out there are plants suitable for every sort of garden if you do a bit of research.

The trampoline is moved into position on the new safe rubber chippings.

Danny Clarke AJ and Ayden

One last rush and the garden is completed and the men collapse on the trampoline with relief it is complete.

Garden Visit and Shopping
Helen and Lydia arrive at Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire which was built in the 1730s.

Kelmarsh Hall

The Grade II listed gardens were designed in the 18th Century and they meet with Sam Bailey who is the Junior Gardener at the Hall.

Sam Bailey

Sam explains that the pollen makes the difference in the level of allergens from the flower.

An example is the Oak tree's pollen which is wind spread and a tulip which is insect spread making it low allergen and the Oak high.

Airborne pollen is smaller so can get up the nose easier.

Lawns are not good due to level of dust and other plants in the lawn.

Kelmarsh Hall

Box hedges are better if well maintained then it will not flower.

Wild Bleeding Hearts

The plants Sam recommends are Wild Bleeding Hearts Lamprocapnos Spectabilis 'Aurora', Japanese Flowering Cherry Prunus 'Collingwood Ingram', Apple Tree Malus Domestica and Tulip Tulipa 'White Triumphator'.

Maintain your lawn weekly
Choose big blousy flowers
Avoid plants that are air pollinated

Helen and Lydia arrive at Beckworth Emporium Garden Centre and they have Danny shopping list to keep them on track.

Danny shopping lis

They meet with Mike the Horticultural Manager to get some advice.


He shows them a Bellflower Campula Glomerata 'Alba' from the shopping list as well as a Foxglove Digitalis 'Primrose Carousel' and a double Rose.

Mike, Helen and Lydia

Mike has some more suggestions for the garden, Cosmos Cosmos Bipinnatus 'Sonata', Verbena Verbena 'Aztec Dark Pink', Begonia Begonia 'non-Stop' and Hardy Geranium Geranium 'Espresso'.

For structure a Cabbage Palm Cordyline Australis will look great in a pot or border.

What the Garden Means for Them

Helen takes time to talk to Lydia about how Mavi allergies effect the whole family.

At first they thought Mavi had Eczema and his skin was cracked and would bleed and they had tried every possible cream but nothing helped.

Helen and Lydia

He is now on anti histamine medication as well as cream and this helps to keep the allergic reactions at bay.

the garden makeover would mean they could you the garden a lot more and stay outside longer.

The Grand Reveal
Lydia, Finlay and Mavi this is your new garden!

Grand reveal

'oh my god' 'look at it' 'wow' 'oh my gosh' 'amazing' 'look at the blue under the trampoline' 'oh my gosh oh my gosh' 'it looks so different' 'oh my gosh oh my gosh look at it' 'Mavi look at your trampoline its go all blue under it' 'all the flowers' 'oh my gosh it looks so different'.

After picture

I think we can tell she very pleased and shocked at the transformation the lovely Danny and his team has done.

Mavi is straight on the trampoline.

Grand reveal

Lydia is so pleased at the low allergen planting and thanks them still visibly shocked by it all.

Finlay goes and joins his brother on the trampoline.

The finished garden has:

Smaller lawn area

After pictures

Clean patio and new planting

After pictures

Gravel second seating area

After pictures

Soft play area

After pictures

Low allergen planting

Lydia looks round her new Instant Garden as the boys bounce away in their new safe play area.

All photos copyright of

No comments:

Post a Comment