Filthy Garden SOS Episode 1 Bangor

Filthy Garden SOS Episode 1 Bangor

This first episode of  Filthy Garden SOS was first shown on 11 November 2021 on 5 Star.

Award winning Garden Designer Diarmuid Gavin starts by telling us our gardens are our sanctuaries, private, plant filled, peaceful and green corners of this green covered land.

He goes on to tell us not all gardens are like that and the homeowners have not got the gardening bug and their gardens are shocking!

He actually calls them 'crimes against nature itself'.

Diarmuid tells us for as long as he been gardening he never seen gardens so bad.

Filthy garden team

Help is on the way with his crack team of experts starting with Garden Designer Danny Clarke who will bring out the gardener in the home owner by encouraging them to grow into gardeners which he finds as satisfying as seeing the garden grow.

Penny Lamb it is all about using power tools in the garden to clear and cut down as well as making things for the garden.

Diarmuid is on a mission to show everyone how easy it is to look after a garden to change a Filthy Garden to a fabulous Garden.

'This is Filthy Garden SOS'

Amber and Shona

Todays episode sees a garden that has been turned into a builders yard during house renovations and we meet a mother and daughter that need help putting it right.

They are in Bangor in Wales to see mum of 3, Amber Who busy cooking dinner in her tidy and lovely home but the same cannot be said for the garden.

Amber along with 23 year old Shona have had enough of their bombsite garden.

garden before

It is not only building rubble, there is a toilet, bed and fridge freezer in the dumping ground.

Amber is embarrassed to have such an awful garden.

garden beforegarden before

Shona says it all started when her dad decided to build an extension and it was easier to use the garden to dump everything in rather than get skips.

Ambers partner

Ambers partner Stuart for the last 27 years runs his own haulage business moving local slate and is a workaholic but sadly has no time for the garden.

Shona says they want to get the garden done so her dad does not have to worry about doing it.

The Garden
Dermot and Danny are on their way, the sky is blue and Penny waiting for them outside the house for them to get their first look at the garden dumpsite.

Dermot and Danny

Penny already has her chainsaw in her hand as she tells them there has been a lot of building work previously to prepare them.

Danny says its dreadful and he not seen anything like it, Penny questions if they can call it a garden and Dermot says its literally a tip!

Dermot calls Amber and Shona outside and introduces them to Danny and Penny before asking them how their garden became such a tip.

Dermot Amber and Shona

Shona explained they were doing the extension and just chucked everything into the garden and Amber says Stuart too busy to do anything about it due to work commitments.

Amber says he has a haulage business and Penny shocked at this says why did he not get it cleared by a employee and one of his lorries?

Again Amber says he has not got the time.

Penny and Danny

Dermot asks how they feel about visitors seeing the garden and Amber says disgusted and embarrassed, a not nice feeling.

'Why now'? asks Dermot and Shona says its her sisters 21st birthday in a few weeks so they want a nice garden for her to enjoy her birthday in.

Danny says your sociable people and this space is wasted like this.

The garden

So Dermot says you want somewhere for the party but also somewhere your not ashamed of.

Shona says this will also help her dad as he so overworked and Amber is raring to go and cannot wait to start.

Dermot says that conversation was hard to have as Amber was so emotional and using words like 'disgusted and ashamed' and it is just a garden that can be sorted with some work put in by them.

The hard work begins

team of contractors

The skip and team of contractors arrive on site, Amber and Shona are excited with Amber even saying she will dance naked round the estate when the fridge has gone!

With just 5 days to complete the garden they quickly get cracking filling up wheelbarrows with rubble and junk.

Amber is first to add some junk to the skip and she met with a round of applause by the whole team.

Garden clearance

Penny asks Amber how come she is house proud but not proud of her garden?  Amber says she needed a push from someone to do it. Well she has got Dermot and the team now!

Dermot asks her about her gardening experience and she said her dad kept a lovely garden with Roses and Gladioli his pride and joy.

He would only let them look and not touch so the garden was really out of bounds this has left her very wary of gardening but she is willing to learn.

The Plan
Dermot calls Danny and Penny to discuss his ideas for the garden and talks of the effect her childhood being unable to connect to the garden has affected her.

Shona wants the burden of the messy garden lifted from her parents but also that she wants a nice venue for her sisters party.

Penny and Danny

The garden needs to be multi generational so they can all enjoy it.

His plan is to create a low maintenance garden and using local Welsh Slate along with trendy plants like Bamboos.

A cool contemporary space for the younger ones to hang out with dramatic planting.

Seating area to relax in with Cottage Garden planting from Amber's childhood.

The plan

Dermot, Penny and Danny now reveals his plans to Amber and Shona and they are shocked, A paved suntrap seating area, Lavender, Indian sandstone, Welsh slate, bold planting a garden building to sit in.

Amber is in tears and speechless but Shona is 'buzzing' and cannot wait to see it completed but there still a huge amount of work to do first.

Looking for inspiration
Dermot wants Amber and Shona to get excited about plants for their garden so he takes them to Crug Farm in Caernarfon.

Crug Farm

They have more than 4,000 different shrubs, flowers and Perennials so they should find something they like.

This is only 15 minutes from their house and they have never been but for Dermot its like being in 'Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory' for plants.

Crug Farm

He takes them on a tour of the gardens and points out the white flowers of a Pachyphragama, which is a relative of Cabbages then to a Schefflera Tree from Taiwan which is one of his favourites which he got from here, just 15 minutes from their house.

Amber says she never seen so many plants and its incredible.

Crug Farm

Dermot shows them the one plant he would take home with him and its a Cardiocrinum, a Giant Lily, Dermot then hugs the pot!

Shona is left feeling inspired by Dermot's enthusiasm for the plants.

They have both had an amazing day and definitely found it eye opening.

A work in progress
The first 3 tonnes of rubble and junk have gone from the garden and they watch the skip leave the site and Dermot says this is a new start.

Cleared area

This is nowhere near the end of the rubble and mess in the garden so they start with a cleared workable section of the garden as the clearance continues in the rest of the garden.

Penny is looking at the conifer hedging and she likes it and wants it to stay but Dermot thinks it been left to go wild and needs to go, Penny says no.

Penny thinks they offer a lot of shade and privacy so the deciding vote is with Amber and Shona.


Amber and Shona do not like the conifers and decide they need to go much to the relief of a smug Dermot!

Penny has started working on removing the Conifers and its her favourite part getting out the tools and her Chainsaw.


She manages to trim some of the trees but there is a problem as they have grown through a chainlink fence making using the chainsaw impossible!

So a bigger tool is needed the digger and it makes light work of getting them out the ground.

Amber and Shona return and are shocked at the change with the conifer hedge gone and it looks so much bigger.

Penny is getting Shona to help her create the Patio area so they will finally have somewhere to sit and enjoy the garden from.

Penny and Shona

Shona says she never done any paving laying before and Penny says as long as you remember the 3 P's it is easy?

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation when you get this right everything else is easy!

Hardcore first and this is a crushed base layer of stone so the paving does not sink and they are using Welsh crushed slate.

This is then compacted with a whacker plate to make it level and smooth.


You can dot and dab the cement for laying the slab in each corner and the middle or cover the whole area which is called a full bed and is better.

As you lay the slab you tap it down with a rubber mallet and use a spirit level to check its all level.

Shona laying Paving

Shona then has a go and she already covered the bottom of the slab with a PVA Glue solution so it bonds better.

She can now point out the slabs she has done to her friends.

Penny has saved some items from the skip to reuse in the garden, some old chimney pot covers that she plans to turn into lanterns.

chimney pot

Penny has some fairy lights to put in the top of the pots .

Danny has found some old wine crates and thinks they will make good planters for Dermot to plant up tomorrow.


If you find gardening a bit daunting, start with some planters and pots and you can experiment until you get more confident.

Firstly he lines the crates with a porous material like a weed suppressive membrane so that the soil does not come out of the holes in the planters.

Danny and Shona

Shona gives Danny and hand filling the planters with soil and he is teaching her that soil is wonderful and he calls it 'black gold'.

Having containers is a bit like having furniture in the living room says Danny you can move them about and can keep changing them.

Danny is starting work on his structure that will not only provide cover for the family to sit in but it is also a Greenhouse for growing.


He is adding 2 by 4 struts and cross beams are in place to make it secure then he is adding the plastic sheeting to the sides.

Danny wants to attract as much wildlife as possible to the garden so he is planting a viburnum burkwoodii which smells wonderful.

The chill out / greenhouse is now finished and Danny is hosing down the inside and he really loves this space as it feels secluded but is also connected to the rest of the garden.

lights and a mirror ball

His final touch is cushions, lights and a mirror ball!

Dermot has the plants for putting in the planters Danny made with Shona and both Shona and Amber are standing by to help.

Dermot Amber and Shona

Dermot is planning on making a portable herb garden and both of them have never planted anything before today.

He starts by squeezing an Oregano plant out of its pot and then teases some roots out with his thumb.

Then he scoops out a hole using his hand and pops the plant in and covers it to the same level it was in the pot and firms it down.

Amber planting

Now it is Amber turn and she replicates what Dermot has done but with a Mint plant.

Amber thought it was more complicated than that and Dermot says thats it just now needs to be in a sunny position to grow.

Dermot is now working on the low maintenance Bamboo hedge and he starts by digging a planting trench.


Next they add a fabric root barrier to stop the Bamboo sending out runners and they add compost to the trench.

Amber is finding out about her new Bamboo hedge and Dermot tells her they are a type of Grass from the Orient and we have used them for Centuries in our gardens and they are low maintenance.

Dermot is planting a Trachycarpus Fortunei which is a hardy Palm and it is a good statement plant.

At the top of the garden it is all about Emily 21st birthday party and he wants to give her a sub tropical feel so he is planting a Banana tree!

Dermot Banana tree

They do not produce fruit in this climate but will give them a dramatic look.

With the final touches in place the garden is finished and its from Filthy garden to Fabulous Garden!

The Grand Reveal

Amber and Shona here is the finished garden

Amber and Shona

'I'm speechless' 'I can't believe it' 'It actually looks like a garden' 'The best transformation ever.

Tears are flowing as they are blown away at their finished garden after 2 years of living with a dumpsite.

Paved area for socialising

Finished garden

Garden structure for chilling out and growing

Finished garden

Dramatic planting

Finished garden

Bamboo fencing

Finished garden

Cottage Garden planting

Now its Stuart turn to see the garden for the first time along with Emily and Family!

Stuart and Shona

'Oh my god' Stuart is stunned and wells up with tears 'unbelievable' 'thank you'.

Dermot says how hard the family says he works for them so Shona and Amber worked very hard to help do this to sort it out for you.

Tears are flowing from everyone as Stuart thanks them all.

Amber and Emily

Shona and Amber show them round their new garden and Emily sees where her 21st party will take place and she over the moon.

As the Dermot, Danny and Penny take a well earned sit down, Danny says 'I think we really hit the mark with this garden' and they both agree they made a garden for everyone to enjoy.

Amber raises a glass to toast her garden and her Dad and in this garden she can look and touch any plant she wants too.

Shona and Amber

The final goodbyes and Danny hands over a trowel and fork as a symbol of them taking over the garden and to continue keeping it as lovely as it is today so it will not become a Filthy Garden ever again.

All Photographs are copyright of Channel 5

Project Manager
Paul Brady

Steve Griffiths
Andrew Lamb
Malcolm Moore
Patrick Riley

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