Love Your English Country Garden

Love your English Country Garden

Alan Titchmarsh introduces us to this series of Love Your Garden Themed Specials 2020.

He starts by saying there are millions of ways to transform your garden whether its a 'wildlife wonderland' a 'family garden'  a 'coastal haven' or 'small but perfectly formed'.

In this series Alan is sharing his secrets to his favourite styles of gardens and the twist the Love Your Garden Team have put on each garden they have transformed.

This week its the English Country Garden and he is showing us 3 very different takes on the theme.

The classic English Garden, The Cottage Style Garden and an Enchanted Secret Garden.

Alan Titchmarsh David Domoney, Katie Rushworth and Frances Tophill

The Love Your Garden Team of David Domoney, Katie Rushworth and Frances Tophill and the teams of contractors of cause all feature in these condensed garden transformations.

The Classic English Garden
This style is a true classic of garden design with its manicured lawns, meandering stone paths and overflowing curved borders.

The borders are full of colour and of cause the classic Rose.

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan goes to visit one of his favourite gardens in Lode Cambridgeshire behind a beautiful thatched chocolate box cottage. 

The garden has S shaped borders and beds that means the grass pathways meander through the flowers.

Around every corner are hidden delights of planting and this is created by having smaller plants at the front and the tallest at the back.

The shapes of the plants also add to the effect the flat heads of Achillea contrast with the domed Pink Phlox. 

With a tree at the back working in a triangular effect is pleasing to the eye.

Garden Makeover
Alan is in Woking to create a garden for War Hero John Phillips who has recently retired and is a enthusiastic gardener.

Alan Titchmarsh and John Phillips

Alan surprises John on his doorstep who luckily for us isn't in his PJ's.

John was an Army Captain who sadly lost his arm during the Falklands War when defusing a bomb on HMS Antelope.

John explains how he was working on the bomb and next minute was flying through the air.

An emotional John says he thought he was dead.

He was awarded one of the Navy's highest honour The Distinguished Service Cross.

Tony Phillips

His brother Tony Phillips says 'John doesn't know how brave he is'.

John's garden has a statue of David who is in a bit of a mess, John is joined by his wife Christine as they show Alan their garden.

garden makeover before

John confesses to having dropped him when they moved to the bungalow and he has lost his left arm. John and Alan have a good laugh over this coincidence.

Alan points out there not a lot in the garden it is very bare, a bit like the statue.

Christine and John Phillips


The garden has proved too much of a challenge to John now and he get emotional at Alan doing it for them.

Alan team of David Domoney, Katie Rushworth, Frances Tophill and the contractors have arrived to start the garden transformation.

Alan Titchmarsh David Domoney Frances Tophill and Katie Rushworth

They crowd round to see Alan plan for this surburban wonky garden which is to become the envy of their neighbours.

They need to get the basics for the design laid out and they start digging the wide borders and getting the area for the new lawn prepared.

There is a circular seating area under construction and a curving red brick path being laid.

garden makeover

garden makeover

Katie starts planting up the wide borders and she starting with the structural plants, a large Cornus and some evergreen fragrant Jasmine to climb the fence.

Grasses and Box Balls are placed and Frances comes to help Katie with the perennial flowers and planting.

The colour palette is oranges, reds, purples and yellows, 'very zingy'.

they are planting in swathes of colour and plant including Verbascum, Poppies and of course Roses.

Alan Titchmarsh

Although a couple of years from their Golden Wedding Anniversary Alan is planting a Floribunda Rose called Golden Wedding for John and Christine. 

Roses give loads of flowers and will repeat flower, are wonderfully scented and a very good scented rose is 'Margaret Merrill'.

Alan likes to plant them a little bit deeper than in the pot to encourage the stems to root better, they are then watered well and mulched with bark chips.

The Rose is part of England's heritage and a symbol of both Lancaster's and York's Royal houses.

Rose garden

It became our national flower when the 2 houses united.

Alan is going to visit a Rose Garden in Wendover.

Alan basic guide to Rose growing is, start with the soil Roses are supposed to like a clay soil, so moisture at root. That means muck!

This will help stop Mildew and Blackspot.

They need feeding so a Rose Fertiliser sprinkled on the soil in March and June.

Regular dead heading is also needed and Alan demonstrates this on a English Shrub Rose.

Alan Titchmarsh

You can snip of each dead flower head but once they have all died off you need to cut off the whole head to just above a leaf node, cut off about 9 inches.

This will give the plant a second lot of flowers and with shrub roses, that's all that needs doing.

The formal parts of the garden are made up of a clipped hedge and a strong edging round the borders.

David Domoney

They have painted the fence a soft green to show off the flowers, Alan comments David is taking ages to paint!

Alan calls Katie over to deal with David who is covered up with a pink cloth to hide their blushes.

Alan Titchmarsh and Katie Rushworth

Alan wants Katie to come up with something for the one armed David statue that will make John smile and laugh.

Alan is dry in the new greenhouse as he orders the lawn to be laid as the rain falls, well at least it gets a water.

Alan Titchmarsh and David Domoney

There are stepping stones in the new lawn and Alan tells us how to cut the turf correctly so it does not shrink.

If you use a tiny bit of the turf roll it will shrink, dry out and move about so you need to cut it from a nice big strip.

Alan Titchmarsh

He overlays it with the big strip of turf and cuts it to size using the slabs as a measure and line to cut along. Perfect fit!

Another essential factor in the country garden is a vegetable area often hidden in a walled garden but no such luxury in a small surburban garden.

Instead it is in brick raised planters, Frances says the soil not important but it will need regular feeding to get the best out of crops like Tomatoes.

Frances Tophill

For feeding you need high Nitrogen for leafy plants like Lettuce but high Potassium for fruit and flowers and high Phosphate for root vegetables.

Behind one of the raised beds they are adding fruit trees, a Pear and an Apple which are Espaliers so grown horizontally in tiers.

Alan has prepared the soil well as it can be dry and the soil poor against walls or fences.

Alan Titchmarsh

He plants it in the hole and attaches it to the wires and as it grows it can be trained along the fence.

Now for the most important bit the placing of the 1 armed statue of David and Katie has a surprise!

Katie Rushworth

He is in the border amongst the flowers and Katie is planting a Fig so the leaves can spare the blushes.

The Grand Reveal
The garden transformation is complete and no longer is a barren garden but an English Country Garden.

Alan Titchmarsh John and Christine

John and Christine open your eyes

'Oh wow' 'wow' 'I said to myself i'm not gonna say wow' 'But wow' 'What a transformation' 'Have you put a fig leaf' as Alan explains it was to spare the female Team members blushes.

John says this is just what they needed to settle in the new home and for his retirement.

Garden makeover

Garden makeover

John gets very emotional talking about what it means to him and having the family come round to this amazing garden.

Alan Titchmarsh John and Christine

'Just Reward' says Alan 

The Cottage Style Garden
In Bradley Yorkshire there is a garden that is a typical Country Cottage Style Garden.

There are packed Herbaceous beds, originally no lawns but paths and walls for the borders to spill over.

Cottage Garden

Alan says the best ones look self planted as a random mix of Herbs, Flowers and Vegetables.

If you plant the borders with self seeding plants every year you get more and more plants and the planting will get more dense and natural looking.

Cottage Garden

Cottage Garden

Roses also feature in a typical Cottage Garden.

In the garden he is visiting they have used local materials like the stone for the walls so it blends in with and makes it part of the surrounding countryside.

Love your English Country Garden

Garden Makeover
Alan is off to the pub in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales and is looking for Geordie Jim!

A very surprised Mr Thompson Senior hides his face as friends and family look on laughing at his surprise.

Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson is a very special grandfather and has been diagnosed with Prostrate Cancer.

His Wife Elaine talks about when they were told he had Cancer 'your whole world falls apart'.

Jim and Elaine Thompson

But Jim instead of being overwhelmed decided to do something to help others.

Jim says 'it's too late for him' so he is raising awareness of Prostrate Cancer and fund raising towards combating the Disease.

Hannah Foley

Jim daughter Hannah Foley calls him 'her hero and proud to call him my Dad'.

Alan sees the garden for the first time and can see that Jim was a keen gardener but now the garden has taken a back seat.

Jim now struggles due to tiredness and the effects of his medication.

garden before

garden before

Alan asks him what is vital in the garden, Jim says a garden for the birds and flowers for the bees.

The views are lovely he says but spoilt by an old conifer but its lovely place to live.

So Alan plans a Cottage style Country Garden and his Team and Contractors arrive to start the transformation.

love your garden team

Alan says he is going to bring the 'flavour of Yorkshire to this Garden' but Katie is ahead of him and shows her T Shirt with the logo ' Don't Mess With Yorkshire'!

First job in the garden is to remove the ugly conifer and trees that are blocking the amazing views over the fields.

garden makeovergarden makeover

The garden is to have a curving path cutting through the lawn, classic dry stone walls and dense planting.

Katie is building the Dry Stone Wall from local materials, Yorkshire Sandstone so it blends in with the surrounding countryside.

The wall contains no mortar and starts with a frame at one end, then you face the large pieces and use the smaller pieces to infill any gaps.

Katie Rushworth

The wall should last hundreds of years.

Alan is building another wall using reclaimed materials, an experienced Dry Stone Waller just knows if a piece will fit.

To soften the walls they are planting flowering shrubs in front like Cistus Sun Roses.


The rest of the planting is Cottage style with a plant medley of classic Cottage Garden plants like Lavender but white flowering, Campanulas and Classic English Roses.

Katie brings over a Rose called Poet's Wife that smells like Sherbet Lemons so Alan gives it a good sniff.

As a center piece for Katie stone wall she has a local stone mason Chris making a special piece to celebrate Jim and Elaine's 30th Wedding Anniversary.

Katie Rushworth

The technique Katie is trying is called 'sparrow pecking' and she 'loves it'. 

They are adding a natural looking hedge to the end of the garden to blend in with the surrounding fields and hide a ugly shed.

Frances is planting a traditional native mix of Hazel, Hawthorn and Field Maples hedge plants.

Frances Tophill

The more varied the mix in the hedge the more different sorts of birds and insects will be attracted by it.

She has mature plants that have a big root ball this means they will need more nurturing and watering than smaller plants for a couple of years.

Anniversary stone

The lawn is going down, a water feature is finished and the last bit of walling laid so they can get the garden finished.

The Grand Reveal
The English Country Cottage Garden is complete in its stunning Yorkshire Dales setting.

Jim open your eyes.

Alan Titchmarsh and Jim

'Wow wow' 'this is my house isn't it' 'good grief' 'how come the garden looks so big'?

The meandering path takes you past wide flower filled borders to Jim very own pub at the bottom of the garden.

Jim loves the new walls and his new view at the bottom of the garden.

He chokes up at the carved Anniversary stone.

garden makeover

garden makeover

For 'Geordie Jim' Alan has created a 'Yorkshire Country Garden with a Cottage twist'

Enchanted Secret Garden

The complete episode in full Series 9 Episode 2

Alan is in Grantham Lincolnshire to put a unique twist on the Country garden for an inspiring couple who have been fostering children for over 40 years.

Alan Titchmarsh rob and Margaret

Alan Surprised Rob Isdale first, then a speechless Margaret at their home.

As well as raising their own children they have fostered over 150 children.

They are also Grandparent and Great Grandparents so it keeps them young Says Rod.

One foster child was to change their lives forever. Kim who had special needs and a serious medical condition. They adopted Kim when she was 3 years old, she was bubbly with a good sense of humour and a blessing into their lives.

Sadly she died at just 21 years old in 2005.

They show Alan the garden that has been neglected as they are still fostering babies.

Garden makeover

Alan describes it as dull and boring. They want a garden for birds and wildlife and for the family to all get together.

The inspirational couple deserve an inspirational garden and Alan comes up with the idea of using the novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett as the theme which was loved by Kim.

Alan Titchmarsh David Domoney, Katie Rushworth and Frances Tophill

Alan trusty team and Landscapers join him to make this magical garden.

With the team at work Alan visits a garden in Nottingham for inspiration, it is only 12 years old but feels timeless.

A magical garden with arches, small windows giving hidden peeps at to what is beyond. 

garden in Nottingham

Secret seating areas the garden as Alan under its spell.

Curved brick walls and stone steps slowly being taken over and reclaimed by plants.

Nature is taking over the garden just like 'The Secret Garden'.

The garden is going to have stone features, wide borders, a lawn, meandering path and Country Garden style planting.

David uses textured flagstones and rustic brick for edging to create the curved pathway with a Victorian look.

Katie is building 2 brick follies in the garden a Gothic archway creating a glimpse through it to the hidden pathway beyond.

Gothic archway

Follies are usually only found on country estates.

The bricks on the folly are 300 years old and she has left planting pockets in the brickwork.

David next job is to create the romantic planting scheme, planting in the nooks and crannies and within the winding pathways. Forget me nots, Saxifraga, violas and Ajuga all create this look.

Garden makeover

Katie uses Climbers and mature shrubs to cover the folly, she plants a mature Camellia to help age the folly.

Ferns are added to the nooks and crannies along with Ivy that she has divided.

Frances tackles the 30 year old Euonymus by trimming the overgrown plant to create nesting spots.

Frances Tophill

Trees are added to disguise the view from the house, revealing just glimpses. Acer, Snake bark are used along with an ornamental Cherry sheltered by the folly. A Crabapple was added for the birds and wildlife.

A metal patio lace Gazebo is put in place and Davids prancing squirrel statue idea falls nearly as flat as him standing on 1 leg posing!

secret door

A fake secret door is added in amongst the Ivy Just like in the book.

The Grand Reveal
Alan welcomes the couple home.

Rob and Margaret open your eyes

Garden makeover

'Oh wow' 'Goodness me is that our garden' 'wow its the best I have seen' 'It's absolutely brilliant'.

Alan takes them round the garden and tells them how the book has inspired them to build this garden in remembrance of Kim.

Garden makeover

The couple are just so shocked at the transformation.

Alan Titchmarsh rob and Margaret

As the champagne corks pop for this deserving couple that have helped so many children, they now have their very own story book ending.

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