Love Your Garden Series 12 Episode 1 Beauty

Love Your Garden Series 12 Episode 1 Beauty

Alan Titchmarsh welcomes us to the first programme of Love Your Garden Series 12 Episode 1 Beauty which was first shown on 22 March 2022 on ITV.

Alan tells us how important our gardens have become to us, they bring family and friends together, are good for our Mental and Physical Health as well as connecting us to Nature.

Lots of us have challenging gardens, which we would like to become our dream garden, they are often in fact, a disaster zone.

So this year Alan and his team David Domoney, Katie Rushworth, Frances Tophill and Danny Clarke are going to surprise some inspirational people whose gardens are some of the worst they have ever tackled.

They will also share the secrets of how they do this, giving us good ideas to transform the chosen garden as well as in our own gardens.

'welcome to Love Your Garden'.

Alan tells us 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and we all have different ideas what that is but we all want it in our own gardens.

A space that calms and sings to our heart and soul, somewhere to think.

Alan is in County Durham to surprise a special lady Mary Stevenson who is 80 years old and has worked in the Community her whole life, raising money for good causes.

Mary would love a garden to sit in, enjoy and have a rest in but Alan has not even seen the garden they have said they will transform.

Alan goes round the back via the side gate and the garden is very bare with a wall blocking the view of the garden from the house.

It is pouring with rain and Alan hides behind the shed and Mary appears to speak to the camera crew who she thinks are filming her about her charity work.

Out pops Alan from behind the shed and Mary is shocked asking him 'where have you come from? and she laughs at him being behind the shed.

She says there all sorts behind that shed but she never expected an Alan to be behind it!

Alan and Mary

Alan asks Mary about her community work and she says she picks up people when they are down and that's all she does.

Mary has raised thousands for her local charities  and her Daughter Carol says she would do anything and would organise and do things to raise money for anyone that needed it.

In the 1980s her local hospital wanted to raise money for 2 neonatal Incubators and Mary stepped up to help.

Amy Pickering, Retired Divisional Manager of Hartlepool Children's Hospital, said they had to transfer babies from Hartlepool Hospital to places like Newcastle who had the facilities to care for them.

There were no incubator to transfer them in for the Ambulance Journey so this made it very difficult.

It was going to be a long time before the Hospital could get the money so Mary said we will raise it then and they did.

Mary said to lose a baby must be the worse thing so she pleased she been able to help and do something and she would do it all again if needed too.

Amy says what Mary Ann did definitely saved babies lives that could be in the 100s of them.

Mary did not stop there and since then she been doing things to help the Peterlee Community and says if she saw anyone in need she be there helping them.

Mary health has not been very good the last few years and Daughter Carol has been looking after her she spends a lot of time in her home so a new garden would hugely improve her quality of life.

This would also be a way of thanking her for the way she has helped others in her community.

The Garden
There is a patio surrounded by a wall but the garden is a decent size with an alarmed shed but he describes the garden as messy and dull.

The Garden

Mary  talks about her memories of past gardens and she said on her way to school there was a white house that looked like a doll's house and she loved it and can remember the smell of the Roses.

She always wanted a house like that with a Rose Garden but she 89 now so she had to wait a while for her garden.

Alan says he will get some people round to do her a garden to thank her for everything she has done and for her to come and sit in.

The Garden

She stops him or says she will cry and she doesn't do that and Alan helps her back indoors so she doesn't get herself upset.

Alan says they are going to give her the Rose Garden of her dreams as she waited long enough!

Design Concepts
Alan goes to Stocksfield to visit a garden that contains the right number of flowers to trigger the feel good chemical Dopamine in your brain .

Thee quarters of the garden is planted with just the minimum of hard landscaping to get you close to the plants.

Immersive gardens puts you right in the middle of the garden and Alan following a winding path to a secret seating area next to a pond and waterfall.

Sitting there the garden embraces you.

The beauty of the garden is that it has the right combination of plants on different layers with border Perennials like Orange Heleniums, the sneeze weed and an orange Rose with the Hydrangeas on a higher level.

Different layers, colours forms and textures all creating a wonderful image when put together.

The planting entices you to explore the garden as well as features like an archway with a stone Urn in the centre makes you want to go further and have a look.

When you get there the Urn is not under the arch and you can walk through the Honeysuckle clad Arch.

This garden for someone that loves plants and in the borders one plant stands out and that is the Rose and it is the Nations favourite flower.

They have nearly every variety in the garden, from the Climbing Roses scrambling over the structures, shrub Roses and standard Roses which should be pruned in Winter to encourage Spring growth.

Alan cannot copy this garden for Mary but he can use some of the plant combinations, including the Roses to give him ideas for her garden.


Alan starts the plan for Mary bearing in mind she is nearly 90 years old so it needs to be low maintenance but feeling enclosed like the garden he is visiting.

David is going to add some archways and down one side a series of them to walk through full of fragrance leading to a focal point.

Katie is doing a seating area by the shed which  will become a courtyard.

Alan area is by the house which will have a Pergola with seating area and lots of Roses.

The 3 separate areas will be linked by planting and give Mary a beautiful garden.

A Work in Progress
The Contactors arrive to start work on the garden as well as Alan's Trusty Team of David Domoney and  Katie Rushworth.

The Contactors

The walkways and raised beds have already started as well as the fence being painted.

David is positioning the Archways to create the Rose walkway and he has chosen metal ones although there are various options like wooden ones but they need to keep being treated.

Once the plants are growing over it makes it difficult to keep maintaining the wood so the metal ones will be easier for Mary.

Alan arrives and wants more than the 3 arches David has used so he helps him carry in and position another 2 making 5 arches.

David is putting together an irrigation system so that all the plants in Mary's garden can be watered without her needing to do anything as it is completely automatic.

It is a series of pipes that cover the whole garden and it is all powered from the outside tap with a computerised system that you can set how much water, for how long and which days etc.

The complete system with the distribution box, programmer and hosing etc comes to around £500 but will save the plants from drying out and dying.

Some of the system is made up of upright sprayers and other beds pipework with holes in it to water at the roots.

David is planting his raised beds but he wants his to be informal and he starts by adding Escallonias called Pink Ellie which have pink tipped white flowers.

He is using a Rambling Rose called Malvern Hills which will go up the trellis at the top of the fence and will spread along it.

Next he adds some Daises or Erigeron and everything in the bed will merge together and look beautiful. 

The Garden

Alan walks through David's archways on the Rose walk and they have been planted with Star Jasmine and Roses including sweet smelling Lakeland.

The Star Jasmine is an evergreen they have bought them already grown into an arch shape and cost £150 each, if you want a cheaper one you can buy them a lot smaller but they only grow 12-24 inches in a year.

The last part of the Rose Walkthrough is the focal point at the end and Alan is not sure of David's choice.

He is fitting the plinth first and then you can add various things for a focal point, a shard of slate, a statue or the most expensive an Armillary Sundial and it looks good surrounded by the flowers.

He asks Alan opinion and he brings a metal sheep that belongs to Mary but David says no so that will appear elsewhere in the garden.

The Contactors

Katie is starting work on the entertainment area at the end of the garden for Mary to sit and have tea.

She starts by transforming the shed which is very dominant in the garden and it has had a fresh coat of paint.

The next thing is to add a new roof of Cedar tiles to clad over the existing felt and will give it a rustic look.

It costs about £500 to do the Cedar roof but you could use felt or felt tiles and the Cedar roof will last about 20 years.

Katie is filling up her stone raised beds for her formal planting scheme in the courtyard area.

She wants to plant it formally so it is very different from the rest of the garden and her first plant is the Gertrude Jekyll Rose right in the centre of the bed.

You need evergreens for the formal look to form the structure and Katie is using Viburnums at either end.

Next it is some Delphiniums, either side of the Rose, she adds more structure plants before adding the understorey to cover the bottom of the plants like the bare stems of the Roses.

For this she is using compact Hebes and Lavender which goes well with Roses.

The Gertrude Jekyll Rose smells lovely and if you keep deadheading will flower from May to October and you need to remove the stem to a new growth point so it will flower again, never remove just the head.

The Garden

Katie is adding as a focal point in her formal area, a water feature she is planting the bottom of it and she using a Gaura and Hardy Geraniums at the front.

She also adding Japanese Anemone, a variety called Fantasy Jasmine which grows to just 40 cm and will flower into the late Autumn and are maintenance free,

To cover the bottom grid of the water reservoir she is covering it with Scottish pebbles and will make a nice sound when the water splashes on them.

The water feature is tested and looks great and will draw your eye into the garden and then onto the planting.

Alan has his covered Pergola in place right outside the house to provide shade but now he want to disguise the pebble-dashed walls.

He brings in some trellis and he fixes it to posts in front of the wall and has a Camellia which is not a climber but an evergreen shrub you can train against the trellis.

It keeps its foliage all Winter being evergreen then you get lovely deep pink flowers in the Spring and will grow in the full sun as long as roots do not dry out.

Alan is also adding a pink Potentilla, variegated Ivy and Euonymus Emerald Gaiety.

His next job is the bed in the seating area that is viewed from both sides so both sides need to look attractive and 1 option ids to plant it all different heights.

Alan is planting the tallest plants right in the middle and them come down in height on either side.

All the borders will include Roses but in this bed he is using Perennials in complimentary pastels and he starts with Persicaria in the middle with pink flowers spikes.

Then he plants a florists favourite Gypsophila or Gyp also known as Baby's Breath and then plants Rosemary, there will be lots of scent in this bed.

Lastly he adds roses that will not grow higher than 60cm ad tells us what to look for when buying Roses and first they need a good scent and he planting one called 'Sweet Jessica'.

The plant needs lots of stems that are well spaced, the foliage should be leathery and shiny so its more resistant to Black Spot and Mildew.

Alan planting the Roses and showing how its grafted onto the root stock so the knobbly bit is well planted in the ground and covered up as well as the base variety stems to give it good stability.

He now planting French Lavender and the difference between this and the English one is that it has a tuft of flower on top.

Alan hoping it will give Mary the feeling of being surrounded by flowers he felt on his garden visit.

The Garden

Alan is adding some more roses in planters and then places some neutral coloured seating under the Pergola to complete his area.

Alan says there are other flowers that will bloom in mid to late Summer including the Hydrangea which are pink in Alkaline soil and blue in Acid soil.

He has a pointed variety called Hydrangea Paniculata and it has lots of interest as the flower heads develop.

Another good plant is Penstemons which are like Foxgloves and grow in any soil with a bit of sunshine, also Gaura  whose flowers look like Butterflies.

Alstroemeria which has thick roots like tubers and amazing flowers which also makes a good cut flower. 

The finishing touches are added and the garden is now complete

The Grand Reveal

Mary open your eyes

Mary and Alan

'Oh it's beautiful' 'how the hell have you done it like that?' 'It's absolutely beautiful' 

Carol comes in with her eyes shut to help her Mum round the garden
'OH WOW' she starts to cry and Mary says don't you will start me! 'I mean, all the Roses oh Mam'

Mary declares 'you have brought my dream to fruition' as they walk round the garden taking in all the features.

The Rose Garden of Mary's childhood dreams

A courtyard for dining in

The Garden

Formal Rose beds and Water Feature

Rose Arch walkway and focal point

The Garden

Raised beds and informal Rose borders

The Garden

Covered Pergola and seating area

Mary and Carol sit at the end of the garden taking it all in as friends and family flood in to see the garden as Mary's laughter fills the garden of her childhood dreams.

Danny Clarke challenge is to transform a space that is hard to love, in a garden that is a classic side return, a passageway by the back door, that's boring, dark and dingy and mostly used for storage.

The Garden
The side return hardly gets any sun and the concrete floor is uneven so it needs to be made even and to get some light into it.

He is going to level it by adding Composite decking.

A work in Progress
A Contractor arrives to help Danny Clarke complete the small garden project.

Danny is laying a layer of sand before adding Decking Tiles to the levelled sand and this can be completed in just a few hours and still look like traditional decking and can last up to 15 years.

The cost is £75 for a pack of 5 so it not a cheap option but these do not need the timber base and are instant.

As the passageway is long and narrow he has laid them horizontally to make it look wider.

The next thing to tackle is the ugly pipework and drainage pipes and Danny is spray painting them a stone colour to blend with the bricks.

The spray paint means it covers everywhere and when spraying he is protecting the wall with cardboard.

At the end he is constructing a planter that is also a seat to make use of the limited space and the planting will have to be suitable for a shady area.

Danny is planting some planters too and he is planting a Camellia and will tolerate the shade and remain evergreen then in Spring it has Pink Flowers.

In the next planter he is using a Hebe and this likes semi shade or full sun and it should be pruned just after it flowers.

Danny places the filled planters at intervals along the wall to break it up.

The next input of colour is constructed from a Cement Board and some tiles he is mounting on it and this will them go onto the wall. 

The Ceramic tiles cost £40 a square metre and he spreads adhesive on the board and starts mounting the tiles and the whole project costs around £25.

The boards are then drilled securely to the wall.

The Grand Reveal
The whole project could be done in a weekend and the whole side return has a new lease of life as a bright welcoming space full of colour.

Wooden planter and bespoke seating

Decking flooring

Tile wall art, painted pipework

Bright planting for a shady area.

Danny says that even if this small space is all you have there is no excuse not to make it a beautiful garden.

I will add more photographs when they become available

All photographs are copyright of


Landscape Team

Jason Williams

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