Love Your Exotic Garden

Love Your Exotic Garden

Alan Titchmarsh tells us there are millions of ways to transform a garden as he introduces us to this weeks Love Your Garden Themed Special 2020.

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.

In this episode it is Exotic Gardens and Alan will be revealing 3 different designs from a tranquil Japanese style garden to the bold colours of Morocco and an Italian inspired garden.

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

David Domoney Katie Rushworth Frances Tophill

British gardeners have loved gardens and their plants from all over the world from when they were first discovered and brought back to our own gardens.

Some of us have a few plants and shrubs but some gardeners this is not enough and they have transformed their whole garden to an exotic paradise.

Japanese inspired garden

Alan is in North Clinton in Notts to visit an old pig farm which is now a Japanese inspired garden Pure land Japanese Garden and Meditation Centre

Some of us have Maples in pot or bridges over ponds that create a peaceful atmosphere but this garden has complete serenity.

Alan Titchmarsh

Buddha Maitreya has lived in the UK for over 40 years ago and transformed the field into the meditation centre.

Alan talks about the intensity of the silence in the garden to Buddha Maitreya who responds that he glad Alan is awakened to this as this is what he teaches.

'Inner beauty and inner peace is the essence of my garden' he responds.

Alan Titchmarsh  Buddha Maitreya

Alan tells us how the design of a Japanese Garden is to be a landscape in miniature, ponds and water features are lakes and waterfalls and rocks and stones are mountains.

Buildings and plants add to the serenity and calm to create the garden.

Going over some stepping stones over the pond Alan likes the tiered effect that has been created by trimming the middle of some Bamboo.

Japanese Garden
Alan is in Bicton Heath Shropshire to surprise Gina Constable by arriving by helicopter.

Alan Titchmarsh

Since this programme was first made Gina sadly died in 2017 a few months after her garden was completed.

Although Gina suffers from arthritis she has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for her local Air Ambulance Charity.

Gina Constable

To thank her, her colleagues have asked Alan and his love your Garden team to transform her garden.

Alan is straight out with Gina into the garden through a very run down conservatory into the pocket sized garden.

At the end is a special summer house bought by her late husband Tony as a 30th Wedding Anniversary present.

Garden beforeGarden before

Gina gets up in the night and goes and sits in the summer house with a candle to be close to Tony and have some quiet time knitting.

Tony and Gina were married for 34 years and both worked to support the charity but Tony sadly died in 2007 after a battle with Throat Cancer.

Alan asks what she wants for the garden and Gina said Tony always wanted a Japanese Garden for their peace and tranquility.

Gina and Tony Constable

Gina says she wants that dream too as the garden is where she feels closest to Tony and feels at peace.

Gina says it will make a huge difference to her life as she cannot get out to do the garden anymore.

The contractors arrive to start the garden transformation along with the Love Your Garden Team.

Alan Titchmarsh David Domoney Katie Rushworth Frances Tophill

'Cool Calm Zen' Alan tells them, he wants calming water, the summer house made into a Japanese Tea house and they are all set to work.

The garden will have mini mountains with running water and ornamental trees and shrubs running through the garden.

A dry river bed will run the length of the garden to help create this large boulders some weighing over 200 Kilos are manhandled into place to help create this.

Alan Titchmarsh Katie Rushworth

For the first layer of the Dry River Bed Katie is using 25 mil gravel chippings that have a rugged edge so that it doesn't look like a beach.

Layers of rocks and pebbles are then added to create the look.

Alan says that you need to feel the gravity of the stones when placing them in natural looking clusters.

David Domoney

Next the plants that will transport you into Japan with their vibrant foliage.

There is a select few Japanese plants like the Cornice tree they are planting after carefully placing it to create harmony with the rocks.

Frances perched on the roof of the summerhouse starts giving directions for the plants to the team below.

Frances Tophill

This is met with sarcasm from the team as they continue moving the plants about and Alan points out that Gina will never be on the roof to see Frances's view point.

She points out they are to much in a straight line and Gina will see this from indoors!

David finds the ideal place for a large Bamboo right in Frances's face!

'Spot on' says Alan!

Katie is putting in a traditional Japanese water feature which is much more subtle and mimics the sound of a mountain spring.

Water feature

The noise is important and the feeling it gives so that it is relaxing.

One of the most important plants is the Maple who prefer morning sun and afternoon shade, so the East side is ideal.

They are slow growing at only 12 inches a year so a mature plant is best for instant impact.

Alan is planting a 5 year old purple leaved Dissectum Atropurpureum 'Dark Purple' Maple tree as a focal point as it is low growing.

Alan Titchmarsh

They need good enriched soil so they do not dry out so add lots of organic matter to the soil.

Planted in the right place they will thrive, in the wrong place they are a nightmare to keep healthy,

Frances and David are working on the summer house to make it fit in with the garden design.

Frances is painting it and cladding a stone footing effect on to the Tea House to give it the authentic look.

Frances Tophill

Frances is covering the felt roof with Heather Brooming which comes on a roll for about £20.00 and is available most places.

Although this might not be authentic it does create the desired effect.

She is adding 2 layers so starts at the bottom so the overlap runs the right way and the water runs off.

checker board patio

Next to the Tea House Frances is added a checker board patio made out of Mind Your Own Business and slabs and it is surrounded by thick Bamboo poles.

The final authentic addition is a cloud pruned tree and costs about £1,500.00 due to the size, these are not cheap!

Niwaki is the Japanese name for this type and style of garden tree.

Alan Titchmarsh

The plant Alan is trimming is a Japanese Holly or Ilex Cranata and you can do this yourself using a smaller plant and taking out one or two stems and keeping the framework and shaping it.

They should be pruned in early to late Summer then it should stay in shape throughout the Winter.

The final touches are added and it is finished.

The Grand Reveal

Gina open your eyes.

Alan Titchmarsh Gina Constable

Tears Flow 'Oh my god' 'I'm speechless' 'This is beautiful' 'its what he wanted' 'I cant tell you how much this means' 

Finished garden

The garden has been transformed into a tranquil Japanese garden and it now has a fully accessible path for Gina.

A natural Dry River Bed flows through the garden.

Finished garden

A soothing water feature.

Authentic Japanese Planting

Finished gardenFinished garden

A Tea House.

The garden fulfilled the dream of Gina late husband Tony and will be a tranquil place for her to remember him in.
Finished garden

Gina thanks everyone for their sensitivity and compassion and of course for the garden.

Moroccan Garden
The love of a Moroccan style garden comes from the tiled courtyard, Bubbling fountains and broad leaf plants that create a retreat.

Michael Blood and Malcolm Bescoby Moroccan garden

Alan is in Nottingham to see a garden that is a mixture of a Moroccan and British style garden. 

Michael Blood and Malcolm Bescoby have the most unexpected garden with terracotta tiled  paths, lush planting and Moroccan touches.

They say how lucky they are to have their garden and they treat like an extra room.

Michael Blood and Malcolm Bescoby Moroccan garden

The lanterns in the trees all add to the effect and it makes you feel warmer with the terracotta tiles.

They use Octagonal Patterns throughout the garden a style that can be traced back centuries to Islamic courtyards.

Michael Blood and Malcolm Bescoby Moroccan garden

In every corner there is a seating area, a Pavilion, a Gothic summerhouse so there is so much interest with in the garden, you do not know where to look next.

They have taken bits of Morocco and made a garden style all of their own.

Alan is in Nottingham to surprise unsung hero Marcellus Baz who works tirelessly to help troubled young people.

He is going to surprise him at the gym and Nathan Kelly Gym Coach as well as Paddy Tipping Nottinghamshire Police  & Crime Commissioner both speak about what a great person he is and for what he does.

Alan Titchmarsh   Marcellus Baz

For the last 7 years Marcellus has taken disadvantaged youngsters and have them attend his boxing school helping over 700 of them with his own charity Switch Up.

Alan dressed as a boxer is a little worried he may take a swing at him!

'Who's this then' says a surprised Marcellus as a relieved Alan takes off his helmet.

Alan commenting what a smart dressed boxer he is asking him about his love for gardening and that he never met a boxing gardener before.

Marcellus compares planting seeds in people and making them grow to also dong that in the garden.

As Marcellus is always busy with his charity work his garden does not get the attention that is needed as he shows Alan his garden.

Before garden

Alan comments on the striking Turquoise wall.

Baz has 5 children ranging in ages from tiny to teenagers so the garden contains play equipment for various ages.

Before garden

So the new garden has to suit Baz and right down to the little ones.

The Love Your Garden team arrive as well as the contractors and Alan tells the team he is thinking North Africa, Morocco because of the striking wall colour.

Alan Titchmarsh  David Domoney Katie Rushworth Frances Tophill

David is already laying the most important Moroccan influenced feature, the Terracotta Tile. He is using it to create a water less Rile down the garden.

To create the effect of the water he is using dark tiles in the centre.

David next job is to tile the seating area using a mixture of stunning Moroccan inspired designs.

David Domoney

Alan arrives and calls him 'David Subtlety Domoney' and the stunning tiles are certainly not subtle.

Next to this is a tiled water feature with a fountain and Alan job is to plant next to it.

The tiles keep things cool and the plants and shrubs he is using also need to be large and to make a statement.

These will then hopefully cast some shade to keep it cool on a hot day.

Alan Titchmarsh

Either side at the back of the water feature he is planting some old Grape vines that are probably 50 years old so are a fantastic shape

Next a huge Olive tree is lifted into place and planted in the ground. A mature Olive tree can cope with all sorts of weather conditions from frost to drought.

Alan is filling in the rest with Shrubs starting with an Oleander which have crimson or white blooms.


Next a Sumac tree with its ferny style leaves and the Oasis style bed is finished.

The Moorish style water feature is finished and filled with water, now its time to test the pipes the flow the water down from the back with a relaxing trickle.

Baz's 3 older children, Maddy, Shabaz and Aaron come to help give the garden their own Moroccan touch.

David Domoney

They are helping David create some tea lights for the garden by painting the inside of some Jam Jars using a coloured wash.

He asks then about how they feel about what their dad does to help others.

Maddy says he is her role model and she looks up to him but doesn't even think he knows that.

Frances is constructing a secluded swing seat by using an old bench of Baz's and cutting off the legs!

Frances Tophill

Frances is planting around it and wants to give the air of translucency and is adding some Sea Lavender to the bed.

It has a dense base but the top is delicate tiny purple flowers on tiny stems and pollinators love it.

Next to it is Verbena Bonariensis which add to the effect with the purple pom pom flowers on top.

A few finishing touches and the garden is finished.

The Grand Reveal

Baz open your eyes.

Alan Titchmarsh    Marcellus Baz

'Oh WOW' 'Wow I can't believe it' 'you.... this .... i am speechless' 'olive trees' 'oh no this is absolutely amazing' 'I just cant believe it' 'it's a whole transformation and it's just' 'it's a completely new garden'

I think we can say he is impressed!

Finished garden

The Moorish Courtyard is stunning.

Finished garden

Cool brightly coloured seating area with a sail to shade from the sun.

Finished garden

Terracotta tiled flooring.

Tiled Water feature with relaxing sound of water.

Finished garden

Lush planting.

A Rill running down the garden.

Finished garden

A secluded swing seat surrounded by plants.

Baz spots the old bench swing seats and tries it out and says when he want to recharge he can just sit here and unwind. 

Finished garden

He says he cant thank them enough and everyone is going to love it.

Alan says that in the 19th Century Explorers brought back a flood of exotic plants and design ideas to our shores.

A Century earlier a design revolution had already taken place when visiting Italy and its grand style that has been with us ever since.

Italian Style Garden
Alan is in Portsmouth Hampshire to visit a Italian inspired garden with its clean geometric lines and symmetry.

Dramatic Statues, fountains and shaped topiary all add to the effect.

Italian Garden

Alan says with the price of marble rather than statues you can get the Italian effect with clipped box to form symmetrical patterns or shaped into topiary.

As an alternative an evergreen Hebe can be clipped into a focal point.

Italian Garden

A central path takes you to the ultimate theatrical destination.

Alan is in Fareham surprising 90 year old Betty Richards on her doorstop who is shocked to see Alan Titchmarsh and gives him a big kiss.

Alan Titchmarsh  Betty Richards

Despite having Macular Degeneration Betty devotes her time to fund raising and has even abseiled down the Spinnaker Tower to raise money.

Her friends have told Alan she does so much she deserves a nice garden.

Betty takes Alan to show him her garden and he can see there are a lot of concrete slabs that Betty says she wary of going out in the garden.

Before garden

There are steps and lots of different levels.

Alan asks her if he can magic a garden what would she like and she says from inside she would like to see lots of colour.

Before garden

Betty was in the local Amateur Dramatic Society so Alan Italian theme will reflect her love of Theatre. He hopes.

The Love Your Garden Team arrive to see Alan plans as well as the Contractors to clear the garden.

Alan Titchmarsh  David Domoney Katie Rushworth Frances Tophill

'I'm going absolutely belissimo Fantastico' says Alan! 

They start creating the simple lines needed for the design and lots of new brickwork and shallower steps are going up.

With the main area now all one level they add a central walkway and patio and ensure the design is symmetrical. 

David Domoney

A Summer house is the central focal point.

The fence has been painted white and raised beds filled with soil when Alan turns up for the planting.

The Summer house is getting painted in complimentary pale tones.

The planting on the other hand is going to be vibrant.

Katie Rushworth

Katie says because of Betty eye condition she is planting in blocks of colour and she starts by planting Fritillaria Imperialis which translated means 'of an emperor' . 

The flowers resemble a crown and they are a member of the lily family, grown from a bulb in free draining soil and they are best planted with the bulb facing sideways.

Alan Titchmarsh  David Domoney

David is adding a fountain water feature as water is a key feature in Italian gardens, it also makes for a lovely tranquil sound.

Alan starts filling the mirroring raised beds and because they need to be symmetrical he decides to 'conduct' the team to help place the plants.

Alan Titchmarsh  Katie Rushworth

Using a stick he quickly has the team running all over the place, plants in hand, getting the design how he wants it!

Now its time for Alan to plant them, biggest plants at back, to smallest at front, with bright and cheery colours.

At the end he is putting in a plant thats common in Coastal gardens Echium or Viper's Buglosses which is a native wildflower thats not hardy in all conditions.

Alan Titchmarsh

Next to it he is planting an orange Tulip Princess Irene, he hopes they will then come up next year, if you plant them deep enough the chances are they will.

He using Box Ball to make a full stop at the end of the beds.

The bed now has a flow of colours from orange, to red to pink to lavender to blue.

Alan now sets to work creating some Topiary out of shrubs.

For an Italian inspired garden its gives shape to the garden and a favourite shrub to use is Box Buxus Sempervirens due to its dense foliage and compact form.

Alan Titchmarsh

He shows how a cone shape can easily be turned into a spiral by tying string to a bottom branch and winding it evenly spaced up the box to the top and tie it off.

Next using some small shears or Topiary clippers you cut into the bits between the string in a spiral.

Topiary started in Ancient Rome and became popular in the 17th Century and during the Arts and Craft period in the early 20th Century.

Its easiest to start with cubes or ball shapes before attempting anything too complex.

Spinnaker Sculpture

A special sculpture has been commissioned to celebrate Betty conquering the Spinnaker Tower and that is put in pride of place.

The final touches are in place as Alan says 'e finito'.

The Grand Reveal

Betty open your eyes

Betty Richards

Speechless 'OH' Gasp 'you dear little soul' Tears flow 'I don't believe it' 'Will you take me out and show me' 

 Finished garden

Alan takes Betty on a tour of her new garden.

Finished garden

Mirrored beds filled with bright perennials

A Summer house

Finished garden


Central path with gentle steps and patio

Finished garden

Spinnaker Sculpture

'I truely, truely cant believe it' says Betty

'Gobsmacked' Says Betty as the show ends

This programme was dedicated to the memory of Gina Constable

All photos Copyright of

No comments:

Post a Comment