Charlie Dimmock and the Rich brothers are in York, helping a couple with a very small garden, full of crazy paving and building materials.
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With her can-do attitude, love of simple gardens,
and decades of experience...
..Charlie Dimmock is one of Britain's best-loved gardeners.
Looking good, boys!
But the new kids on the gardening block are the Rich Brothers.
We want to be the brothers
that change people's perceptions of gardens.
Winners of multiple medals at the Chelsea Flower Show...
-That's really amazing, isn't it?
..the boys have become known for their dramatic outdoor spaces.
Now, these two different generations of gardening are going head-to-head.
I know they've got a gold medal but I can come up with a few ideas.
They're meeting frustrated garden owners across the country...
The photos made it look tiny.
-It is, isn't it?
-I'm sure you've seen larger.
I don't know what to do with it.
..and will each pitch them a design based on their needs and budget.
-It looks really exciting.
-It doesn't look like it could be our garden.
..brings their design to life.
-Hold on! Hold on!
-Sweet as a nut.
..and the loser has to help them build it.
I'm getting irritated now, we're sort of faffing around.
This is what happens...
Does he ever get irritating?
All the time.
..when different styles collide...
-Who chose these?!
-One, two, three.
-This looks like your design!
..to turn garden dreams into reality.
Open your eyes.
It's amazing. It's beautiful.
So, whose garden will Charlie and the Rich Brothers
be battling over this time?
Today is the turn of photographer Alasdair
and marketing manager Philippa,
who live in York with their cat, Ginny.
Two years ago, not long after they got married,
the couple bought this Edwardian terraced house
and began painstakingly restoring it to its former glory.
We had to rip everything out and start from scratch,
which was hard work.
Yeah. It's just left us with the garden to finish off now.
Once that's done, we'll be done and dusted.
They're a young couple that live in York.
Very sweet, aren't they? Look!
I bet their mum and dad were happy when they got married.
-They're charming looking, aren't they?
-They are. Ideal.
Their house is now a stylish mix of period and contemporary.
While the garden is a concrete jungle.
At the moment we don't use the garden at all,
because there's nowhere to sit, there's nothing to look at.
It's just a dumping ground.
Basically, all the stuff we had left over from doing up the house
has just gone straight in the garden, so it's all got...
-It's just a mess.
-A bit manky, a bit of a mess.
It is east facing, so I think it's going to be quite shady.
That's something we'll have to deal with.
-Not necessarily a bad thing, though.
-Not at all! Some luscious plants.
Being a terrace, it's bound to be overlooked.
-And probably have one of those...
Looks like they've got that funny, odd bit
that nobody quite knows what to do with.
This plot is just four and a half metres by seven and a half metres
and void of any plants.
It's going to take some serious inspiration
to reveal its hidden beauty.
Having created such a stunning home,
Alasdair and Philippa have very high standards.
We'd like a mix like we have in the house, of quite clean lines
and almost regimented with also kind of overflowing planting.
And they're prepared to spend the money
to make the outside look as good as the inside.
So we've got five grand to spend with this garden,
which I'm very pleased about, because it's actually quite small.
It does seems a bit silly to scrimp on the garden
when we've spent so much time and effort on the house.
Hopefully, it means we can get really good quality materials
that will stand the test of time.
£5,000 is a serious budget for such a small space,
but these are serious clients
who are going to expect something very special.
So Charlie and the boys are going head-to-head,
each designing a new garden for Philippa and Alasdair.
They'll travel to York, and present their designs to the couple,
who will choose which one gets built.
And the loser has to help the winner build their garden.
It's the day of the pitch.
Will Alasdair and Philippa go for Charlie,
with her decades of experience and vast knowledge of plants...
..or the Rich Brothers,
known for their contemporary, medal-winning designs?
-Here we go!
That looks good.
You come out of your main door there to this open area,
seating area, mainly.
This is a low, shallow pool of water for reflection.
And I thought it'd be quite nice for your seating area
to be somewhere that you get to, so there's stepping stones across
onto an area of chunky oak timber deck.
What we wanted to do was create this extension from your house.
This stylish, outdoor room that complemented the stylish interior
you guys have done there.
We've got the front room straight out from the kitchen,
which is more for the morning and dining.
The idea was to use a wooden flooring.
as if it is an extension to the house.
Then, the back area with two sofas and a fire bowl,
somewhere more intimate, more cosy,
a place to really relax and enjoy the space.
The Rich Brothers' design
seamlessly links the interior of the house
to a luxurious outdoor living space.
But Charlie's taking a gamble,
by going for a shallow pool by the back door.
Now for the planting.
One of the key features in the garden are these tree ferns.
They've got so many good qualities.
One of them is they've got a really luscious, really large canopy,
but they've got a really thin stem,
so they don't take up too much room
and impose on a small space like this.
Tree ferns make a dramatic statement.
But will they be too much for Philippa?
Also, with the lighting in the garden we're going to put in,
when they're up-lit, they're so architectural and so sculptural.
Charlie's playing it safe, with shorter, exotic plants.
Plant-wise, lots of greens but foliage effects.
So, things like that Fatsia japonica, Rodgersias, flowers,
but very simple, fluffy white flowers.
This is Equisetum, so it's very regimented and upright,
looks like bamboo.
But with five grand burning a hole in their pocket,
the couple have some questions.
What happens down the side next to kitchen?
What we want to do is create this really luscious space.
It's more an area to look upon rather to be in.
The boys are continuing the fern theme into the side alley,
but Charlie sees it as a whole new garden.
This is very Dingley Dell.
I want this to be a fernery, with really lush plants.
So lots of hardy ferns,
some tree ferns for a little bit of height and some hostas.
So it's all leaves, foliage...
-I have to say, that's my favourite bit of the design.
Only one design can win.
So who's it going to be?
Will they spend their £5,000 on
Charlie's Dingley Dell garden,
with its tranquil water feature
and stepping stones,
or on the boys' chic outdoor lounge
with its elegant tree ferns?
-It's a really difficult decision to make.
..we've come up with...
CHARLIE AND THE RICH BROTHERS CHEER
-Nice! That's awesome.
-What made you choose our design?
Think it was the two areas,
having the breakfast room just outside the kitchen,
which is ideal, and then a cosier area at the back.
Really excited about it.
-Are you starting now?
-Yeah, I've got my gloves!
The Rich Brothers have emerged triumphant.
If that's not enough, they now get to boss Charlie around,
when all three of them build the garden.
It's early morning in York,
and while the Rich Brothers are away working on the final details of their design,
they've sent project manager Paul and the landscaping team in
to clear the garden and mark it out according to their plan.
So it's this lip here that we're going off,
so everything is determined from that.
So it looks almost like the floor inside is coming straight out.
At the far end of the garden, they have planned a contemporary patio.
So the team need to prep that area ready for the large modern slab.
Meanwhile, out front, the Rich Brothers and Charlie have arrived,
and are preparing themselves for the huge task
of bringing the boys' winning design to life.
Right, guys, we've got our work cut out for us with this garden.
There's going to be a few challenges, isn't there?
-It's small, but doesn't come without its trouble, does it?
Basically, it's one level from the kitchen floor straight out.
-Like extended rooms.
They can open the partition doors and walk straight out.
-With that added pressure now then, Barry, you're on slabs.
You'll be doing a bit of that.
Charlie, I'm going to hide you away in this little Dingley Dell here.
OK. Doing what?
-Just relaxing, drinking tea.
-Yeah! Sitting down...
Catching some sun. And I'm going to set myself on the decking.
-It's not that sunny.
-It isn't at all, is it?
-Catching the rain.
With the boys taking charge in the back...
Charlie's been demoted to the side alley.
And out the front, there's been a delivery.
-Look at those!
The six mature tree ferns the boys are hoping
will bring some real drama to the garden have arrived.
Tree ferns are an excellent addition to a smaller garden,
because they have shallow roots.
But they still provide shade under their wide, feathery fronds.
Mature samples can cost between £200 and £400,
so Philippa's keen to see what she's getting for her money.
-It's going to be like Jurassic Park, I think.
One of the biggest challenges with designing a small garden
is that even the tiniest imperfections are on show.
Knowing that Alasdair and Philippa have an eye for detail,
the boys have ordered high-quality materials, for a flawless finish -
starting with these giant paving slabs.
So we decided to go for a 900 by 600 slab.
This is probably one of the largest slabs you can get.
It's kind of key when you have a small garden
to use elements that are slightly oversized.
Using big slabs tricks the eyes into thinking the space is larger,
and laying them across the garden gives the impression of width.
We also decided to push the slabs up together,
so there's no pointed line in between.
This really gives this nice, contemporary feel
which links in with the house nicely.
This garden is all about using the small space efficiently,
without comprising the contemporary look,
and the boys have even come up with somewhere
for the couple to store their garden tools.
The entrance to the side return is going to be a walk-through shed,
and because Alasdair has done up some of the house himself,
he's keen to have a go at building it.
Hopefully, if I've measured right, this will be going straight in.
Like a glove! Look at that.
Meanwhile, whilst the boys can contemplate their next move
in the big garden...
Charlie remains confined to the little one.
I should get my bit finished, done and dusted easily!
Bring me tea!
The courtyard has been designed as an area for the couple to sit back
and admire from their kitchen.
Having only a few pavers,
it will be filled to the brim with luscious plants.
This area here is absolutely tiny.
I mean, really tiny. But it will look fantastic.
They overlook it from the kitchen,
so we're planting it up with really lovely, lush plants.
You got Baltic parsley -
it's like cow parsley but much more architectural and bold.
This area is already lit,
so it's going to look spectacular with the plants at night.
So I'm going to plant this Japanese anemone against the wall.
It doesn't look much at the moment, but it's a lovely plant,
gives you lots of flowers later in the season
when some garden plants are looking a bit sad.
Comes up, has low foliage, but comes up with flower spikes
that have got pink, open flowers,
which look gorgeous against this brickwork, the texture of it.
I wish the soil was a little bit easier to dig, but there you go,
you can't have everything in life, can you?
The next big challenge in the main garden is to seamlessly connect
the kitchen with the patio area, using a stylish deck.
It needs to be perfectly flush with the patio,
so the subframe needs to be spot on.
And so we're putting a membrane down to stop any weed growth
coming up through the decking.
With most of the hard landscaping finished,
it's time for the stars of the garden - the tree ferns -
to make an appearance.
These are big old beasts, they're hard to carry around,
so we're going to get some sticks, put them in place
and find out their positions.
Harry, chuck 'em over...
-Pass me some of those sticks there, mate.
-Some of these?
Yeah, they're perfect. Five of them, please.
Right, what are we thinking?
Placing them too close together, too far apart,
or too equidistant will look unnatural,
so it's critical to position them perfectly.
-And then we'd probably go for one, maybe there?
And that one can go here, and that...
-That will be perfect for privacy, actually.
Tree ferns have shallow roots,
so the hole only needs to be 10cm bigger than the trunk's diameter,
and 20cm deeper than the root ball.
While the bosses get to play with the big trees,
Charlie's been given a project
that's even smaller than the side return.
We're going to make this into a green roof.
Now, because Alasdair's made the shed himself,
it's really strong and reinforced.
If you were using a prefabricated shed at home,
you'd want to put some extra structure in
because of the weight of the roof.
The roof has been felted,
but to make sure it matches the rest of the garden,
Charlie's adding a lip, using the same decking boards as the floor.
Now, I want to try and create a tray that's about three inches deep.
And you can't see, but I can feel it's about...
(That's probably about two inches deep.)
That'll be enough for the sedums, yeah?
That's going to go down like that, then we'll trim that off
so you won't see it, see? That'll look nice.
Adding a green roof is a great way to create another planting area
in a small garden, and can transform an old summerhouse or shed.
But it needs plenty of watering,
so it's safer to use drought-tolerant plants
But there's no rest for Charlie. The boys need some manual labour.
Do you want to go in there already, Charlie?
OK... What, so that I fall over flat on my bottom?
You cheeky thing!
-Are we just going to walk it and rest it on the things?
Just do it a bit at a time.
Let's not go mad.
-Where are we going?
-Which one's this for?
Ready? Three, two, one.
Who chose these? Why did we want them so big?
They're pretty heavy, aren't they?
They are quite chunky!
Very nice, well done.
-Right, I think it needs to probably spin that way.
-Spin round. Yeah.
One down, four to go.
These are going to give a lovely, modern touch to the garden.
And they've got a lovely canopy,
without losing too much light on this garden,
and the vertical aspect really lifts your eye
and lets you still see through the garden.
The tree fern has small, fibrous roots to get moisture...
so they need properly securing.
So what we're doing with this tree fern is,
because it hasn't got normal roots like a tree,
is we're banging in these stakes,
and they'll anchor it down and act like roots.
Then we're going to screw it into the tree fern,
and that'll just hold it there secure.
It may seem strange,
putting a plant that originated in Australia in a Yorkshire garden...
..but there's surprising number of exotic plants
that, with a little TLC, can live happily in the UK climate.
Tom Hart Dyke,
curator of the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle in Kent,
oversees one of the largest collections of exotics in Britain.
My draw to exotic plants is this magnetic attraction by the foliage
and by the flowers you cannot, or very rarely, see in this country.
There's something about them.
There are easy steps you can take to grow a wide range of plants
that you cannot believe you can get away with,
simply by covering them up
with Dad's old woolly jumpers, scarves,
and just simple measures to grow a wide range of plants.
It's the combination of both wet and cold weather in the UK
that can be harmful to many exotics.
This is the yucca. It's my most favourite plant,
and I have to say, look at it, it's stunning.
Whatever the winter,
I would only have a pane of glass to cover the whole surface area
of the plant, in a wooden frame that's screwed into four posts.
If you don't have the time to create a cold frame for your plants,
some can handle anything our climate throws at them.
This is Trachycarpus fortunei, the Chusan fan palm.
It's so exotic to look at but it's really hardy.
It is the hardiest palm that we can grow in this country.
It comes from extremely cold areas of Asia,
hence why we can grow it in this climate.
Minus 17 we had here five years ago.
Pfft! It was laughing in the face of minus 17!
Exotic they may be,
but by being a little brave and taking the necessary steps,
you'll be pleasantly surprised at how they thrive in your garden.
In York, our exotic tree ferns can handle all but the coldest frost.
Adding a layer of straw to protect the crown,
and folding the fronds in on themselves in the winter months
will keep them safe.
It's always a good idea to get as many people as possible
in a very small space(!)
Cos I think the ferns here probably won't really die back.
-Because they'll be so protected.
-Looks like we're nearly done.
-No more digging then, soldier.
So it's leaning...that way.
-That's a good fit!
At last, they're all in, and are ready for the grand unveiling.
Big moment now, mate. Time to get the fronds out.
There we are, look at that. Tease them out a bit.
That's really nice, isn't it? Look at that!
MUSIC: Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss
A jungle! Whoo!
That's better than I expected.
To make the most of the striking tree ferns in this garden,
Harry and David have included a lighting scheme to up-light them -
bringing a whole new dimension to the garden at night.
-What do you want now, then?
-Hellebores, please. Red ones.
These are fab.
-They're beautiful, aren't they?
Additional planting defines the two different living areas
in the boys' design.
With so much patio and deck,
they're underplanting the ferns with smaller but equally lush varieties
that will spill over and soften those hard edges.
We love to use grasses in our planting schemes,
cos we feel it's kind of like the background noise.
It's what really holds the planting scheme together,
and then you can dot in your flowering perennials,
like the astrantias, the aquilegias or the hellebores.
Well, I have to say, I just love hellebores.
They've got these lovely flowers that get full of stamens,
and then afterwards, they get seed pods,
which I think look quite cute as well.
And then the foliage is really pretty come the summertime,
and it's great for flower arranging.
It's all coming together,
and although she's been the undergardener, Charlie is impressed.
Do you know what, David? This looks like your design!
Thank goodness you've said that.
I'm really, really pleased how it's looking, actually. I love it.
And once the deck's done, Charlie can finally finish the green roof.
We've got planting medium with this stuff, which is called hydroleca.
It's ever so light and porous,
and we've mixed that in with the planting medium.
These are water-holding, clay pebbles, and are lighter than soil,
so they're ideal for our green roof.
And we have a thin layer over, and I'll plant through with succulents -
sedums, sempervivum, that type of thing -
that puts up with really sort of drought conditions.
Also windy conditions and full sunshine,
which you will get on this side, and it will create a mat
right the way across the roof, and it'll look gorgeous.
I'm going to plant them slightly proud,
because I'm then going to put a very light gravel all the way round them.
This garden has been a big challenge...
..in a very small space.
-It's really, really heavy.
So what do you think?
Yeah, it's going to look nice.
Interested to see what cushions they've got as well.
But, as daylight begins to fade...
Paul? How do you want to start this fire?
-I can start doing that.
-With a match.
All right, then. With a match.
..Philippa and Alasdair's garden is finally finished.
In its former life,
the couple's garden was a poor relation to their stunning home...
..with bags of rubble everywhere,
and old, battered crazy paving throughout.
Now, it's had a £5,000 facelift.
The boys have used high-quality materials
to provide an elegant finish.
The new decking area is ideal for having breakfast,
or a bit of evening dining.
Costing around £1,200, it extends seamlessly from the kitchen,
linking the outside with the inside.
Towards the rear of the garden is a superb patio,
made from large pavers that cost around £600.
An elegant fire bowl links the space with a couple's indoor fire,
and is perfect for romantic evenings.
Before, the garden was flat and featureless.
Now, statuesque tree ferns bring drama,
texture and year-round colour to the garden.
With the rest of the planting, they ate up £2,500 of the bill,
but the boys are hoping the couple will think it was worth it.
And, of course, there's the narrow alleyway,
which Charlie has turned into a lush courtyard.
Alasdair and Philippa wanted the perfect garden,
and were prepared to spend five grand to get it.
(The garden looks beautiful, very "Chelsea".)
It's time to find out if the boys have delivered.
You're now crossing the threshold into your new garden.
Open your eyes.
-What do you think?
-Thought it was going to look amazing,
but, yeah, it looks phenomenal.
Got the fire bowl going, lit, ready for your evening.
It looks great!
Explore your garden, please.
-Walk on through.
-What do you think of the tunnel?
-Yeah, it's a proper tunnel.
It's like a wee adventure!
It was a small garden before, wasn't it?
It feels twice the size.
You can really see all the quality materials, can't you?
The decking is really nice, this is really nice.
-Obviously, the tree ferns are fantastic.
Combined with the design,
-I don't know how it could be any better, to be honest.
-Aw! Very kind.
-Say nothing more!
-We're off now, that's us done.
This couple entrusted Harry and David with five grand of their own cash.
So do they think it's been money well spent?
You think that spending five grand
is a lot of money for such a little garden.
But I'm glad that we did, because it's worthwhile. Worth every penny.
There was absolutely no way we could have made it look like that,
it's just fantastic.
Charlie and the Rich brothers are in York, helping a couple who have spent two years painstakingly renovating their terraced home. With a very, very small garden, full of crazy paving and building materials, Charlie and the boys compete to give it a £5k facelift, turning it into a luxurious haven to relax and entertain in. And along the way, they have a host of ideas and tips for making the most of small spaces and shady corners.