Love Your Garden Series 11 Episode 7 A Hug Garden

Love Your Garden Series 11 Episode 7 A Hug Garden

Alan Titchmarsh is back for this episode of Love Your Garden, Series 11

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 as well as sharing tips and tricks for your own garden.

But series 11 is different they are transforming not one but two gardens with the help of new Love Your Garden Team member Danny Clarke

Alan is in Leicester to surprise Donna Jackman who is an award winning Support worker who has worked in her job for decades.

Donna is on her way home from a night shift and has no idea Alan Titchmarsh is stood waiting outside her house.

Donna and Alan

A shocked Donna greets Alan and she has just finished a 48 hour shift and she is tired but excited to see Alan.

Donna tells Alan that she works in a mother and baby unit for young mums that are in the care system.

The shifts are 24 hour long and she just done a double one.


Nicola a Friend and ex work colleague says Donna much have helped 3,000 - 5,000 mums in her time, it could even be higher.

Donna whole work life has been working in the care system and specialises in young Mums.


Pravina a Friend says she was on her own and didn't know what to do but Donna got her into a hostel for mothers and babies and made sure she had everything she needed for the baby.

Donna says her job always been about keeping families together and she cares and nurtures them just like a parent would.

It is during the night that young families struggle so Donna is on call 24/7 to be there when needed.

Donna's friends and colleagues nominated her for a new garden so that for once they can do something nice for her as a way of saying thanks you.

The Garden
Alan and Donna go to look at the garden and it is a semi open plan garden cries Alan as the neighbours fence is missing in bits.

The garden

He asks her what she wants to see when she comes out of her French doors? 

She wants a bigger patio and one thats not so horrible, somewhere to sit, Alan asks is the pebble dashed shed and the old wooden shed at the bottom can go.

Alan says we will get rid of the grass and give you some privacy and shade.

The garden

He asks what difference having the garden done will make and she answers be so nice to come out into the garden and just relax.

Alan says he going to get some people round and transform it into a paradise for her and she is very please with that!

Alan sends Donna off to get some well earned sleep and says Donna always there to give people a hug when they need it now he going to give her a garden that gives her a hug back.

Design Concepts
Alan is in Hampshire to visit a garden with the feel good factor and the garden is about surfaces as much as colour!

Hampshire garden

It is a garden you want to touch things in and he wants this concept for Donna garden.

There is a lot of foliage in the garden like Tetrapanax, the Rice Paper Tree and although it looks good it also feels good too, Leathery on top and soft underneath.

Alan Hampshire garden

Touch is one of the greatest senses.

The garden also has trees and shrubs with interesting foliage like a Giant Hairy Weeping Spruce which certainly draws your eye to it!

The borders contain Grasses and lots of different colours and leaf shapes.

Alan Hampshire garden

A garden that is designed for texture can contain things like delicate Grasses, Evergreens for all year round shape like Euonymus Emerald and Gold it also gives you colour.

The purple of the Heucheras in the border can last a long time and careful positioning of plants mean you can get a contrast of colour and texture all year.

Alan Hampshire garden

Hard Landscaping in the garden can also add to the texture and in this garden they have used Rough-hewn York Sandstone which is readily available.

They have used it for the stream to run down which they have surrounded with Japanese Maples and Dwarf Conifers.

This is a big garden but they still managed to make it a touchy feely garden with lots of interest round every hidden corner and he wants this for his garden design.


Alan starts his plan for Donna's Garden which is a long and narrow plot which will be good for a tactile garden as he can make a journey through the garden with plants.

There will be 3 separate areas in the garden all linked by a path.

Outside the house there will be pots of herbs and spices and Danny will do this area.

The centre of the garden draws you through it and Frances will do this bit.


So the end of the garden is Alan's, where she will go to rejuvenate and relax.

In the middle of the garden Alan also wants to add something special.

A Work in Progress
The contractors and Love Your Garden team members Frances Tophill and Danny Clarke  have started work on the area to be made over.

Frances is laying down some big sleepers in Alan part of the garden at the end that will bring texture into her area which also gives her area a rustic look.


The area is given a solid foundation of weed suppressant covered with a sub base and beams are placed on top which they screw the sleepers to.

Danny is giving Frances a hand in her area and the path is edged with Corten steel and then there are sloping giant borders come down from the new fence.

He says most people think flower beds should be flat and level so it is unusual to have a mounded flower bed in the garden.

Alan and Frances

Frances says this way you can see every plant.

Alan takes a trip down the path and says this will also make you feel enclosed being surrounded by plants, this is the cuddle!

Frances and Danny are carrying in some Hornbeam hedging ready to put in the long border and will look very architectural.

Frances and Danny

The hedges with be like screens and will break up the planting as they are already pre grown as hedges.

They decide to follow the angle of the beams so it makes a zig zag pattern.

Frances is still working on her beds and with the Moon Gate in place to draw you through a journey up the garden her beds have to touchy feely as you pass through.


Grasses are forming the main structure to her borders and one that she is using is a Carex Buchananii which is an evergreen so maintenance wise you just need to run your hands through it to remove dead stems.

It is a good idea to wear gloves doing this as grasses can have sharp edges.

Next she is adding long stemmed Perennials including one of her favourites Chocolate Cosmos and yes it does smell of Chocolate.

Next she is planting Crocosmia and next to that a pale green Grass.


Frances is adding the finishing touches to the bed nearest the house by creating a bruising bed, plants you can crush with have scented foliage.

She is planting an Artemisia and this one smells like Coca-Cola but is not edible. 

The next plant is Salvia Hot Lips but it is the foliage, that smells of Blackcurrants.


She is planting a Dwarf Eucalyptus that looks like an artificial plant and is called Baby Blue and only grows to about 3 Metres and smells medicinal.

Danny is saying how marvellous Donna is that she looks after young Mums and wants to bring them there to teach them to cook as he fills a large pot with compost.


So he is going to plant herbs in the pots, herbs are very touchable so each pots is going to be filled with different textures.

The first plant he is using is an African Blue Basil, its lovely and goes well with Tomatoes as well as make Pesto and next to it goes a Red Water Pepper which has very hot leaves Danny finds out by trying one!

Next to them is a small Chilli Pepper plant and then a Cuban Oregano, some Sage and finally crams in some Thyme to trail down.


Using bigger pots creates a bigger impact than doing them all in individual pots.

The next pot is having a Gold and Green Fennel which is a very hardy plant, the pots smell and feel amazing and hopefully will inspire Donna cooking classes.

Danny is doing some planting next to Donna new shed that has been painted the same colour as the fence so it will blend in with the whole scheme.


To hide the shed further he is planting a Loropetalum which will cover the shed and in late Winter / early Spring it will flower with pink flowers.

It has already been trained up a frame so it will soon go up the shed walls.

Alan is in the sitting area at the end of the garden with is constructed of the large sleepers.

He wants something to match the Corten steel of the path edging so they all help and carry in a very large steel planter.

large steel planter

The rusted steel will look stunning against the foliage plants he plans to add to the planter.

Danny has brought down some plants for the back of the trough for Alan, the first one is a Tassel Bush Garrya which has long grey catkins.

So he quickly plants that behind the trough in the prepared soil.

Alan and Danny

In the filled trough he is planting a mixture of shapes and textured plants including a Pineapple Flower Eucomis that has rosette like flowers that are purple but they often have green flowers.

The next plant has become more popular of late the Japanese Anemone as they flower from August through until October or even November.

He is copying the planting scheme from the garden in Hampshire and adding plants with different leaf shapes next to each other like the Japanese Anemone next to the white striped leaves of the Carex Grass.


The planter is complete and he already finished the first part of his new seating area and hopefully Donna will find it a relaxing space to rejuvenate after along shift.

Alan surprise feature for the garden has arrived and its a huge Corten Steel Moon Gate and Frances and Danny love it.

Moon gate

This is placed on the concrete in the middle of the path and Alan is first through it.

Moon Gates first came from China and were put in gardens for good luck and good fortune and to welcome people into the garden.

Moon gate

The Corten Steel goes well with the edging and ties the design together.

Danny is giving Alan a hand with the digging holes in his area next to the trough to plant in to make it feel like it wraps around.

Alan has planted a Cotinus Smoke Bush and Danny is struggling to dig his hole for another Cotinus his side of the trough.

Danny and Alan

In the triangular bed Alan is going to bank up the plants with the tallest at the back and he is using Evergreens at the back of the border.

Danny and Alan are placing the plants out and Danny loves the Pittosporum as its one of his favourites and they need regular pruning so they do not get too tall and it will keep them dense.

They can even be grown as hedges.

Alan is looking for the plants to look pleasing and for contrasts of colour shapes and textures so poor Danny keeps moving them about.


He has chosen a cup-leaved Purple Leaved Elder, Phormium New Zealand Flax and a Mahonia.

Pleased with the arrangement they now all have to be planted.

Elephant Ears Bergenia

Next job is to add some plants to the edge of the deck and he planting Elephant Ears Bergenia it has large waxy leaves and looks good for most of the year and then flowers.

Alan has an idea to help with the vast amount of planting needed in this garden and calls on the help of Brooksby Land-Based College and have already helped moving the mounds of soil which they are now planting up.

water feature

Alan is planting up the water feature with some Spiral Rushes and he is using 3 of them for effect.

Alan says you can add texture to every style of planting for example a Cottage style garden you could use Stachys Lanata which means woolly and the common name is Lambs Ears.


A modern Garden you could use Fatsia Japonica the false Castor Oil plant which is very architectural.

He has a more unusual variety called Spiders Web which has a cream variegation that looks like a web.

Spiders Web

For a Coastal garden and you need a tough plant like Phormium, the New Zealand Flax.

There is one plant thats suitable for all sorts of garden and that is Verbena Bonariensis.

At last all the planting is complete and the finishing touches complete

The Grand Reveal
Donna open your eyes


'Ahh! Oh my God' 'Oh my God that is amazing' 'I can't believe it' 'That's incredible' 'Are you sure this is my garden' 'Oh my God' 

finished garden

A path leading through a Steel Moon Gate

finished garden

Tactile planting 

finished garden

Rejuvenation Garden

finished garden

Alan takes her for a tour around the garden and through the Moon Gate that she loves.

As Friends and Family flood into the garden, there is lots of hugs as everyone admires her new garden, hugs all round.

David Domoney is in Huddersfield to do the garden of Police Researcher Jen who is a first time home owner so it is also her first garden.

David and Jen

Jen is partially deaf after having Measles when she was just 3 years old and being outdoors is good therapy for her.

Her friend Hilary says having a garden to relax in will make a big difference to her Mental Health.

The Garden
Jen shows David her garden and she only has 2 small areas, one round the back with a small bit of deck and the front border.

The Garden

Jen uses the garden for exercising in and doing Yoga and likes to sit outside and read if it is sunny.

David asks what having a new garden will mean for her and she says after a long day being able to re-energize and recuperate will be so good.

The Garden

He says this is the smallest deck he has ever seen and the garden is just a narrow yard by the front door and the sloping border at the front of the house.

A Work in Progress
The contractors and Love Your Garden team member David Domoney have started work on the area to be made over.

David  is starting with the deck area in the yard and to brighten the area up, he is painting all the hard landscaping Mauve!

This includes the fence, shed and some planters so the colour will pull the garden together.


David is using a Prairie planting scheme throughout the garden and Prairie gardens are found in the American West and they have natural free flowing borders of Grasses and Perennials.

This will help soften the narrow yard and he is planting some tall Calamagrotis Grasses against the fence as well as a Panicum Squaw.


Amongst them he is planting a proper Prairie Flower Echinaceas and the colours go well with the mauve fence and he has different height varieties.

David next job is to tackle the section at the front of the house that is currently full of weeds.

It gets the sun but David doesn't want to fill it with just Grasses he wants to add some big stones to make it a feature.


Once the area has been cleared and prepared David starts adding the boulders and he starts by roughly laying them out to see what looks the most natural

He then adds the grasses amongst the rocks and it is also going to be a seating area amongst them.

One of the grasses he is using is a Stipa Pony Tails which is an evergreen, likes well drained soil and some sunshine.


The next Grass is a purple Moorland Grass Molina and has purple seed heads

David is also mirroring the flowers in the yard area out the front like Achillea, Salvia and Echinacea.

David adds the seat and the last finishing touches and the garden is completed.

The Grand Reveal
Jen open your eyes


"Wow' 'Oh my goodness' 'It's amazing' 'Wow that's amazing'

Finished garden

A seating area surrounded by tactile plants

Finished garden

A Yoga garden

Finished garden

Prairie Style planting

David takes Jen on a tour of her garden that does not take long but she loves it and takes a seat in her front garden that she can now actually use.

Jen and David

She welcomes her first guest to the garden her Mum and Friend Hilary and they all admire her new garden that she can relax in.

All Photographs are Copyright of


Landscape Team

Jason Williams

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