Love Your Garden Series 10 Episode 8 A Yoga Retreat

Love Your Garden Series 10 Episode 8 A Yoga Retreat

Alan Titchmarsh is back for the last episode of Love Your Garden Series 10, this series was shown in 2 parts because of the Covid-19 lockdowns. 

He starts the programme by saying 'this year Britain has fallen head over heels for gardening'.

So Alan is back and shocking our unsung heroes on their doorsteps and transforming their gardens.

Alan is in Waltham Abbey in Essex to surprise 53 year old Venessa who has battled through Leukaemia and now helps other people with the same disease.

A very shocked Venessa opens the door to Alan and as usual he wangles himself a cup of tea.

Daughter Sheena Darcheville says her mum is unstoppable and when she needed a Stem cell donor she was campaigning for one not only for herself but others in the same situation.

Beverley De-Gale Co-founder of ACLT says when someone has got Cancer they will find other strengths and Venessa has been campaigning for Donors at Donor Drives and fundraising and they love her as she has gone over and above.

Before her illness she was a teacher and is using her skills to write books for children and her friend Joanne Meeks says she used her time during treatment to write and it became a distraction and therapy for her.

The Garden
Vanessa takes Alan to see her garden and when they walk through the conservatory the first thing Alan spots is a very large trampoline which is very dominant.

She explains her little one is a Gymnast and Cheerleader and she uses it for training on, her name is Raia sunshine.

Alan asks if she good at it and a proud Venessa says she is fantastic.

Next he spots the Barbecue and asks if they use it she said they used to as she has 3 daughters, 2 Grandsons and lots of friends it used to gets lots of use.

She has 2 grown up daughters who have their own lives.

Venessa said in February 2016, she was an Assistant Head Teacher at a Primary School, she was happy but then she was diagnosed with Leukaemia.

The only symptoms she had was feeling tired and after a simple blood test they told her the next day you have Leukaemia.

Venessa needed a Stem Cell Donor to recover but they never found a matching Donor so she had an extra 3 years of Chemotherapy.

If a Donor had been found the Chemotherapy would have been a lot shorter treatment.

There is a shortage of Stem Cell Donors but especially for Black and Asian Donors and there is not enough Black Caribbean people registered to donate.

Alan is out in the garden and still commenting on the space the trampoline takes up and he notices the lawn is also not looking its best.

There is space down the side of the garden Alan only just noticed and he says Venessa deserves a much better garden than this!

What is Venessa's dream garden? She wants a space she can feel like she is 'out' in, she likes Yoga and Alan says they are going to bring the world to her.

Design Concepts
Alan is in East London and he looking at a garden thats taken him to another world away from Hackney to an oasis of calm.

The garden is the creation of Designer Abigail Ahern in her own garden.

She has designed to have 3 areas but they are all joined together.

Outside the door there is a sitting and kitchen area where she used her interior design outside.

This gives the garden a luxurious feel and in the central section, there is a dining area with a fire pit, central Olive Tree and an amazing outdoor office.

She works from home so having somewhere in the garden to escape distractions and it was not expensive just £100 on a online auction site.

This calm work and life retreat to escape every day stresses is what he want to design for Venessa's garden.

To make the most of the space the boundaries are hidden with Black Stemmed Bamboo on one side and on the other Star Jasmine so they just disappear into the planting.

Alan starts the plans for Venessa's 18 by 10 metre plot to change it into a calming retreat.

His first problem is Raia's trampoline that she loves but it is the first thing you see but he cannot get rid of this.

His plan is for her to see an area of deck instead and entertainment area done by Katie.

David is to create her a writing studio with a deck out front with planting at the side of the house.

Frances is to create a zen yoga area set at a 45 degree angle at the bottom of the garden.

Alan is going to add a calm area of water as a central feature.

The garden will be a journey from one area to another and he even found room for a trampoline.

Katie is off to meet with Garden Lighting expert David Haslehurst at a project he is working on and Katie asks him what sort of budget he gets to work with?

He says he has between £3,000 and a million pounds, Katie reckons the garden would look like Blackpool illuminations!

Whatever your budget or style there are different kinds of lighting but Katie asks for a simple method for beginners.

David explains the 3 main points of lighting design:

1. Being able to see where you are going for safety on steps etc.
2. Your entertainment area.
3. our overall garden, lighting trees, Bamboo and plants.

They show us the lighting he has added to the garden when its at its best, in the dark!

David switches them on and they all come on gradually and the Bamboo looks especially good lighting the stems and leaves from below.

Katie goes for a wander round the garden and looks at the path lighting that entices you into the garden and its good to have them at low level and have it aimed downwards to not shine in your eyes.

He has used downlights under a stone bench which makes it look likes it floating and she going to use this idea in the garden.

David is on the terrace and showing Katie the entertainment / dining area lighting where they have put the lighting in the trees that cross each other to avoid creating shadows when sitting and eating  but they also have lanterns on the table.

Alan tells us that indoor plants can create just an impact too and shows us some homes that have used plants in this way.

In one of them they have used a large step ladder to display the plants on to add some scale.

Alan says if you have no idea how to start or your plants are not doing well, Frances has some tips.

Frances says you need to feed your house plants and shows us a Weeping Fig or Fiscus that has a lot of foliage and she is using a slow release granular fertiliser.

This costs around £0.35p and she pushes it into the ground but only during the Summer months as plants do not need feeding in the Winter.

If you have a lot of plants it is cheaper to use a liquid feed and she has another Ficus and the feed costs £8 a bottle so about £0.04p a feed.

Another important factor is to know when they need watering and she has a trendy Prayer Plant and Boston Fern and they need watering once a week.

It is ok if the top of the compost is a bit dry and you should use the finger test before watering which is taking the tip of your finger and if an inch into the soil it is moist it is fine and doesn't need watering yet.

To create impact with your plants you can put them in clusters of complimentary shapes.

A Work in Progress
Alan team of Contractors arrive as well as the Love Your Garden Team of David Domoney, Katie Rushworth and Frances Tophill to start work on the garden.

David says a lot of the ground work has been done already including the joists for the decking and the paving is done.

In David's area the foundations for the office are done and so is the frame work and he has found the ideal location for the Trampoline.

He now starts on the timber cladding for the Writers Studio and it is already fully insulated.

David says if you are putting in an outdoor office you really need that insulation and weatherproofing keeps you nice and cosy.

The contractors add the waterproof roof to the Studio.

David adding the framework for the glazed doors to the building and the windows are facing North which means it wont get the sun blazing in and making it too warm.

David is also helping get the ground work done on Alan contemporary water pool that is in the middle of the garden.

He is using soft sand to line the bottom so nothing sharp in it and on top of that he lays an underlay to protect it further from stones.

Next he adds the pond liner and it is huge and then he fills it with water to weigh it down.

By the Writing Studio David is planting a Cornus Controversa Variegata also known as the Wedding Cake Tree as to how it grows and looks like a wedding cake with its layers.

David's area also includes her commute to the office so he is planting the area to look good and he has an Echium which is a lovely blue by the grey fence.

Katie has some exotic plants for the entertainment area and she says there are some that can be grown here in the UK.

She is planting a Pachira or Money Tree in Feng Shui its said the leaves capture happiness and good fortune.

The next plant is a Strelitzia its common name is Bird of Paradise and it comes from South Africa and it will need taking indoors over Winter.

It is such a large plant Katie has a plan for it for the Winter and it involves Katie building a plant transporter to move it on!

She is in next doors garden to do this she is making the plant dolly / trolley from some spare decking boards with some edging round the sides.

For a heavy plant you need to buy some decent and strong wheels and these cost approximately £10 each wheel and she screws them on the bottom of the boards.

Katie is plating her Bamboos and Alan comes to help and she tells him people are scared to plant Bamboos in their own gardens.

Alan says the Phyllostachys are very tall and they have a black stemmed one Phyllostachys Nigra and also Phyllostachys Aureosulcata Aureocaulis meaning golden and they both will run by sending out shoots which you chop off.

To keep it contained they are planting the Black Bamboo in its large pot so it has room to grow.

Alan is taking off the side branches on the Bamboo on the lower parts so that you can see the stems.

Katie is adding contrast to her lush green backdrop by adding a Callistemon or Bottlebrush plant which is a native Australian plant and some Geums which if you keep deadheading them will keep on producing flowers.

Now the time for Katie with an electrician to add the lighting design ideas she learnt earlier into the garden.

She has some LED rope lights and she is sandwiching it between 2 bits of timber and the underneath of the deck.

Katie is hoping the Yoga deck will then look like it is floating.

She now has David helping her by pretending to be a pole to hang some string lights around the seating area which will just plug in to a socket she has.

The last lighting effect she is adding is some carefully placed uplighters to highlight some plants including the Bamboo.

Frances and Katie are working out where the posts go in the garden as Frances wants to use them to zone off areas in the garden.

The Yoga deck is done and there will be a seat and planting to come so Katie suggests the posts screen off the family seating area from the Yoga area.

Katie acts as the middle post whilst Frances makes sure the posts are in the right place, Katie even manages a Yoga Tree Pose.

When they are happy with the posts positions they are concreted in using a dry mix and water, she says the holes have to be deep enough and leave the concrete for 24 hours before putting any weight on the poles.

The poles are very cheap from a garden centre or builders yard and come in different heights.

Frances is adding some fragrant plants to the Yoga Deck and for the backdrop she has a Mahonia which will grow in deep shade and flowers in the Winter which have a wonderful scent.

To give a more tropical feel she has some Palm like plants, one is a Phormium or New Zealand Flax and the variety is Evening Glow and the other is a Cordyline or Cabbage Palm.

Next she has a Skimmia which has an incredible scent and next to that she is planting a Choisya which has not only scented flowers but also scented foliage.

The last scented plant is a Cercidiphyllum or Katsura Tree which has heart shaped leaves that turn yellow and scented in the Autumn.

Frances is making a water feature for the Yoga Deck a pond in a pot and she is using a terracotta pot so this needs painting inside with a waterproof paint.

She puts the pot in position and adds a upturned pot to the bottom and then wraps a concrete block in plastic to disguise it to go on top of the upturned plant pot.

This will create a platform for plants as well as keeping the plant pot in place.

Frances fills it up with water and it is water tight and she adds a Equisetum, a fern then she add a foliage plant a Zantedeschia which is a lily with white flowers.

The last plants are a Sparganium and then some oxygenating plants that sink below the surface to keep the water clear and healthy.

Alan is looking at all the prep work David has done to his water feature and he is saying that if you can see the liner it ruins the illusion.

He has some board to cover the edges and mask the liner and once its fixed into place he trims off the excess liner.

At one end of the pool there is to very large planter which is a raised beds made out of sleepers.

These sleepers make the planter look very chunky and they now need filling with soil before planting.

At the other end there is a wall of the same sleepers and the top one has a hole cut in it for a water blade which cost about £45.00.

The blade makes the water come out in a thin line and makes a lovely noise when it falls on the water below.

Alan asked Frances to help him move the frame for his bridge over the water and they rest it on some posts over the water.

Once in place it will be fixed to the posts and then covered with planks.

Alan is moving his plants into the garden, they are all Tropical looking plants like the Cordyline or Cabbage Palm or also known as Torbay Palm which is readily available and cheap to buy.

In time it will grow upwards on its stem and turn into a tree and cost about £25 to buy.

He shows us a Butia the Pindo Palm and the exciting part is at the bottom with its large base which means it will grow outwards.

For a fast growing upwards Palm the Canary Island Palm will cost you £200-£250 for a decent size one.

It grows at a rate of 2 feet every 5 years so you can buy  smaller cheaper one and wait a bit longer for it to be a decent size.

Now he has to decide where they are all going and he has David helping him shift them about into position.

He decides to put one in a large raised bed so there is no digging required for the planting as its not yet filled. 

David says there a Trachycarpus to come in for the back corner and he says there has been a change as they have 2 gold Bamboos, 2 Black Bamboos and 2 old Bamboos..

Alan starts to sing and dance 'Da da da da the ol' bamboo'.

Alan is planting a prize Palm and the fronds will create some lovely shadows.

For colour around the pool area Alan is adding some old favourites some Rhododendrons which should never be planted too deep as it will effect them flowering.

Next he is planting some Bananas and they will definitely give the tropical feel and will withstand temperatures of minus 4 but they should be lagged in Winter by surrounding the central crown in bubble wrap.

A carpet of ground cover plants helps with the lush look and Alan is adding some grasses including a proper grass called Lilyturf or Black Grass Ophiopogon.  

By the water he is adding plants that grow naturally next to it like Carex, the Sedge and this one is variegated with lovely seed heads.

Alan explains the basis of any water feature is a pump you place in the water and this pumps it through the blade.

With the final touches the garden is complete.....

The Grand Reveal

Venessa open your eyes
'Oh my god' 'How did this happen?' 'Thank you do much' 'Alan it is stunning, I never could've designed anything like this myself, of course' 'look at this' 'Oh! this is beyond perfect, I don't know what to say'.

The finished garden

The garden is now a calm retreat

An outdoor living area

The finished garden

Calming water features

The finished garden

A Writing Studio

Yoga Deck

Angled walkways surrounded by lush tropical planting

A trampoline training area

Venessa says how much difference this will all make.

Now its Raia turn to open her eyes
'oh!' ' Oh my gosh'  and she quickly finds her new trampoline and training area, she loves it all.

Venessa family flood into the garden all amazed at the transformation and the entertaining begins.

All Photographs are Copyright of

I have been unable to source many photos for this episode and I will add them when they become available.


Landscape Team

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