Love Your Coastal Garden

Love Your Coastal 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 seaside paradises. Whether you are by the coast or even inland Alan is showing us a Classic Seaside Garden in Devon, a Mediterranean Garden in Cambridge and  the Adriatic Coast in Hull.

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.

Alan is in Woolacombe Devon to visit a classic coastal garden that runs right down to the cliffs and has a stunning sea view.

coastal garden

Being so close to the English Channel it is at the mercy of the elements so they have to adapt to this and have no lawns or delicate flowers just plants that can withstand the climate.

He says the different type of materials used in the garden effect the atmosphere they have used stacked slate to create retaining walls which matches the coast line.

Alan Titchmarsh

The planting scheme includes Echiums that will tolerate the salty winds and hardy perennials like Astrantia, Erigeron and Catmint.

So to create your own seaside garden just use plants and hard landscaping that are found at the coast.

A classic Seaside Garden
Alan is in Bideford, Devon to surprise Tamsyn Wood who looks visibly shocked to have him on her doorstep.

Alan Titchmarsh Tamsyn Wood

He has been told her garden is in a 'bit of a state' and she agrees and that it would really help if it wasn't.

In 2006 Tamsyn and Husband Alex who was a keen surfer moved to the South of France with their 4 young children Monty, Esmie, Mitzi and Lola for an idyllic self sufficient lifestyle.

Sarah Riley a friend talks about the chickens and ducks they had, the children running around, vegetables growing, it was 'the good life'.

Alex Wood and children

Alex joined the local Rugby Club to mix more with the local community and this decision would change all their lives forever.

Olly David his friend tells how he went to his first practice and got a bump on the back of his head and this triggered a blood clot on his brain.

Alex then had 2 hemorrhages and 2 operations leaving him blind and partially paralysed and with limited speech and movement.

Tamsyn and Alex Wood

Tamsyn decided they needed to move back to the UK and Alex is being cared for in a care home.

She talks about the outdoor lifestyle they were living in France and about the massive bit of driftwood she had to leave behind that was for a wedding anniversary and that she hope to reclaim it one day.

Alan asks her about the loss of the man she loved and Tamsyn says about how different it is now and she 'I love a different man now to the one that i married'.

Before garden

The garden has been very low on her agenda and the lawn is tufts of grass.

Alan points out a lot of ground elder at the end of the garden and that the garden has been taken over by it.

Alan asks her what she wants from the garden?

Alan Titchmarsh Tamsyn Wood

Tamsyn says its hard to go out as a family so in the mornings for the children and when Alex is there she like it to be a family garden they can all be in together.

So the garden is to become a seaside escape and the Love Your Garden Team as well as the contractors arrive to help transform it.

Alan Titchmarsh David Domoney Katie Rushworth Frances Tophill

Alan tells them the challenge is to make a seaside garden and David already has some ideas using pure stone to make it look Natural.

Katie wants to create an area for the children as well as the adults and Frances wants to use seaside plants throughout the garden.

So the plan is to use natural materials from the beach and to use natural wood and coastal plants.

David Domoney

David starts work on the rugged looking patio using Donegal Quartzite natural stone which are warm coloured and looks like a French cliff side. 

This crazy paving design will fragment the further it goes into the garden to give a natural edge and planting pockets.

Frances is planting up the beds with plants that are good in drought and by the Sea like Kniphofia Red hot Poker and Sea Holly.

Frances Tophill

The Coast often has a mild climate which means hardly any winter frosts so plants like Echiums will thrive.

Other plants include Verbena Bonariensis, Osteospermums and Salvias all planted in a natural style to blend in.

At the end of the garden there is a tree that will need some work to fit in with the scheme.

David is already up the tree pruning it when Alan turns up and asks the obvious 'what are you doing up there?'

David Domoney

There is a lot of dead wood to prune out and an old climber and at the bottom they are adding more dirt to shore it up!

To draw your eye away from the tree Alan suggests adding pebbles to make it look like they have washed up against the tree and to paint the back wall.

The new seating area arrives in the shape of a boat, or rather an actual boat with the side cut out and seats and a base added. 

Alan Titchmarsh David Domoney

Only problem is it has to go over the wall to get into the garden and with a lot of muscle power over the back wall.... 'the boat comes in'.

The next big and heavy task is a nautical inspired climbing frame for the children using natural materials to fit in.

Alan Titchmarsh  Katie Rushworth Frances Tophill

David sets to work with rigging and a gangplank all surrounded by jungle and made from lovely bits of stripped trees.

The jungle plants include Phormiums, Fatsias, Cabbage palms. Bamboo and grasses which soon create a dense jungle feel.


A path to the seating area is made using interlocking matting filled with gravel, pebble and seashell mix.

Over the top of the boat seating area a sail shade is added.

Its now time to add the beach effect by adding different sized rocks and pebbles to the gravel and around the plants using a natural style of placing them as if they have been washed up on the shoreline. This will also retain moisture for the plants.

It is a hot day in mid summer so the plants need a good water, Frances says flowerbeds do not need a lot of water but containers always need watering.

watering bottle

A few things you can do to cut down on watering are to use a container that you can fill with water and turn upside down to slowly drain into the soil.

They have made their own using litre glass bottles they have painted and they will keep the plant watered for a few days.

The final touch in the garden is very special to the couple, the piece of Driftwood all the way from France.

With this final touch the garden is ready.

The Grand Reveal

Tamsyn open your eyes

Alan Titchmarsh Tamsyn Wood

'Oh my god' 'i'm shaking' 'oh my goodness' 'you did this?' 'oh look oh wow!' 

The garden is now a Coastal Paradise for the whole family to enjoy.

Finished garden

A play area made with weathered wood

Finished garden

Planting beds of coastal plants

Finished garden

A boat seating area under a shady sail

As Alan reveals what is under the cover 'to help her dry her washing' he uncovers the special bit of driftwood, the tears flow. 


They release the children, 'it's awesome' they all say as they clamber all over their new play equipment.

Mediterranean Garden
Alan says you don't have to live by the coast to have a seaside garden, with imagination you can have one in your own garden anywhere.

He is in Chelmsford, Essex to see a garden which is behind an traditional English Cottage.

Mediterranean Garden

The garden behind transports you to a coastal garden which has you feeling like you are on holiday.

Features like the ship wrecked boat, tall palm trees gives it a very authentic look.

There is a corrugated roofed beach hut with a hammock with decking underneath painted a lovely sea colour.

Mediterranean Garden

It has an informal design and this just adds to the weathered look and the use of pebbles and stones for the wandering paths and bigger stones are used around the pond to create a beach.

The planting is similar to what you find in the Mediterranean or Caribbean with lots of spiky plants like Fan Palms, Cabbage Palms and Bamboo.

Mediterranean Garden

They need to be planted in a sheltered spot to survive the UK Winters.

To create a seaside look its important you use natural materials and coastal plants.

Alan in Cambridge to meet young mum Suzi Sola who looks very surprised to see Alan Titchmarsh on her doorstep.

Alan Titchmarsh Suzi Sola

Alan tells her he has been told that her back garden is in a bit of a state and could do with them sorting it out.

Until five years ago, mum Suzi and her two children Katiya and Isaac  were a happy active family who enjoyed holidaying. 

Suzi Katiya Isaac

When 7 year old Isaac started struggling at school he had a brain scan and was diagnosed with the debilitating  brain wasting condition ALD, Adrenoleukadystrophy  their lives changed forever. 

Isaac within 6 months could no longer walk, talk or swallow and is now largely confined to his bed or his wheelchair.


Isaac is now 12 years old Suzi has become his full time carer with his constant needs.

Friend Elaine Bishop says everything is focus around Isaac and she is there for him 24/7 so her friends and family hope the Love Your Garden Team can give them a garden to escape into.

Suzi shows Alan the garden that is huge with loads of space but not a lot in it.

Before garden

Suzi explains how all her time is spent with Isaac and she even sleeps in the same room to be there for him.

Alan says you used to holiday a lot in the Mediterranean so he tells her they are going to being a bit of the Mediterranean to her garden. 'That would be amazing' says Suzi.

The Love Your Garden Team and the Contractors arrive to make a garden that will work for the family.

Alan shows the team his plans for the garden and there is a lot of the existing garden like the lawn and the Pergola they can keep.

David Domoney

David starts work on the decking and boardwalk which in time he hopes fades to a silver driftwood colour to fit in more.

The circular path around the lawn is made with sand coloured bound gravel resin to make it nice and smooth.

Alan Titchmarsh David Domoney

David is also making a sun design using bright yellow bound gravel resin.

The borders are to be filled with Mediterranean plants, the border is south facing so will get lots of sun.

After rotovating the bed Katie is adding Italian Cupressus trees to add some vertical interest and will repeat around the garden to draw your eye.

Frances Tophill

She is also planting Phormiums. Frances is planting Senecio which has a silvery foliage that reflects the light which indicates it can cope with the sun.

She also has some Lavender and Hebes which also enjoys a sunny position.

Alan is reusing the Pergola and Suzi's plants to make a shady retreat and the existing stone floor has been relaid to invite you in.

Alan Titchmarsh

He is adding cool lush looking plants around the shade of the Pergola like Fatsia, ferns and Hostas.

Alan suggests planting them in a sinuous style to make the border flow up and down smoothly not spiky.

Moving Olive Trees

Olive trees bring the Mediterranean to your garden but they have to be quarantined for a year before buying them to make sure they are healthy.

David takes delivery of the massive, over 100 year old trees and wonders how they are going to get them into the garden.

Moving Olive Trees

They manhandle them off the truck and its a very tight squeeze to get them down the alley.

The Olive trees are in equally massive pots and according to Alan it was Hercules that spread Olives throughout the Mediterranean with his Olive producing staff.

It takes several of them to get these huge trees out of the pots and planted.

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan points out if you get a young Olive tree they can get damaged by the winter but these old trees with their gnarled bark means they are much tougher and any damage to new growth can be pruned back in Spring.

David next big task is to erect a huge sail over the seating area and he starts by putting in some equally huge posts.

The posts are set at an angle to keep the sail taught and they sail is attached by clips.

More heavy lifting is need to bring some rocks, boulders and stones to make a rocky coastline effect.

Katie is adding pebbles to her bed and the best way is to just throw them on for a natural look and petering them off at the edges.

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan says they need some water if you are on holiday so they have 3 chrome globes in descending size with a pump and reservoir underneath so the water runs down them and around again.

The garden is finally finished.

The Grand Reveal

Suzi open your eyes

Suzi Sola

'Oh my word' 'Oh its amazing' 'I can't believe this is our garden' 'oh this is beautiful' 'oh its gorgeous' 'its beautiful, absolutely beautiful'.

Finished garden

The Mediterranean Haven is revealed and they can holiday at home everyday

Rugged pebble beach with Mediterranean planting

Finished garden

Olive trees

Finished garden

Shaded Pergola with seating

Finished garden

A giant sail

Finished garden Sola family

The rest of the family join them in the garden and Suzi says 'it is like being on holiday'.

The Adriatic Coast
The final garden of this episode is inspired by the Adriatic Coast and Alan is in Hull at a Hospital to surprise a special lady.

He interrupts a meeting to surprise a very shocked Macmillan Nurse Maggie Simkiss who has dedicated her life to caring for Cancer Patients.

Nurse Maggie Simkiss

Her Colleague, Janis Hostad says she is an inspiration and Lorraine McDonald, Macmillan Development Manager, talks about the support she gives to often frightened or worried patients.

Maggie's Husband Kev Simkiss says 'she's got a heart as big as a bucket'.

She was inspired to take up her caring role when in 1992 her and husband Kevin third Son Kieran passed away at just 9 days old.

Mathew Simkiss

Matthew Simkiss was just 10 years old when this happened and because of this his mum has gone on to do so many good things.

As well as her nursing she also founded the Hull branch of Sands the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity.

Catherine Lazenby a bereaved parent and friend talks about when she lost her daughter Lily, who was born asleep, the year before and Maggie has helped and comforted her at a very difficult time.

Maggie's Colleagues have asked the Love Your Garden Team to do a special garden for her.

Garden before

She shows Alan her small and very un-jolly garden complete with a falling down shed.

Alan asks her what her dream garden would be and she wants an area just for her, instead of the shed.

Garden beforeGarden before

He points out the children's toys and Maggie says that the grandchildren are a big part of their lives.

So the garden also has to be suitable for them, as well as for Maggie.

Alan Titchmarsh David Domoney Katie Rushworth Frances Tophill

The Love Your Garden Team and Contractors arrive and Alan tells the team he has got his inspiration for the garden from a fridge magnet of Croatia.

Maggie wants a sanctuary in the garden and David says he will build a nice garden building for her.

Alan points out this garden has to transform in to a grandchild friendly garden and also a Maggie sanctuary, when they are not here.

Terracotta patio

They are creating a rustic courtyard garden with a tiled patio and using the colours, yellow, amber and cream on the surrounding walls and on the building.

Katie is painting the walls a cream colour which is hard going.

Raised beds are being constructed from rustic stone, to be filled with plants found in the Adriatic.

David and Katie take delivery of some huge terracotta Cretan pots and they prank Alan by hiding Katie in one covered with a box!

Alan Titchmarsh Katie Rushworth

David next job is the rustic building at the end of the garden it is not your normal building with a hidden room for storage and the front is a summer house.

For the roof he is adding over the top of the roofing felt, a frame with Cedar tiles, to give the effect of a Terracotta roof.

To improve the look of the building he has taken his inspiration from a photo of a burnt yellow coloured building with green shutters in Croatia.

David Domoney

He has some plastic shutters he is going to attach and paint green and the building will be burnt yellow colour.

To the walls that are not being painted, Katie is attaching some classy cladding, with a natural stone look.

Next the classic Olive Tree arrives (must have got a job lot!) and with it planted Alan can start on the planting around it.

Alan Titchmarsh

He decides to plant in stripes and has picked plants not only for colour but also for fragrance like Rosemary and Lavender you can brush by to release the scent.

It seems some of the team are distracted with what should be toys for the grandchildren!

To add some seaside fun to the garden they are making a water play station in a recess in the wall with shutters to keep it all neat and not to ruin the look of the garden.

Alan Titchmarsh  Katie Rushworth

By using a mix of coloured guttering and pipes and a reservoir at the bottom the grandchildren can play with the water without taking over the garden.

Now the planting beds are finished its time to fill them with Adriatic plants like lemon trees in big pots, Basil and dwarf sunflowers.

Alan Titchmarsh

Conifers also feature in a Croatian garden and Alan is adding some Pencil Cypresses these will grow to about 10 feet and don't cast any shade and they don't have roots that damage foundations.

They cover the paths with sand and this makes an ideal surface for Alan pots which he uses the team, to get the placing correct.

They add the finishing touches and the garden is complete.

The Grand Reveal

Maggie open your eyes

Nurse Maggie Simkiss

'Oh my god' tears begin to flow 'oh its beautiful' 'absolutely beautiful' 'look its just... oh i love the urns' 

The garden is now her own bit of Croatia and full of colour and life

Finished garden

Terracotta Patio

Finished garden

Sand paths and colour washed walls

Finished garden

Play areas for the Grandchildren

Finished garden

A rustic summer house

Maggie takes a seat in the rocking chair by her sanctuary and says 'it's more than i could ever have hoped for'.

All photos Copyright of

No comments:

Post a Comment