Garden transformation show. Presenter Helen Skelton and the team try to create a magical and inspiring children's play garden in a tiny, dark backyard in Hailsham.
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Beautiful gardens are one of Britain's most glorious sights.
But if your green space is more mess than majestic,
making it over can be a daunting prospect.
Especially if you're short on time and money.
Well, the Instant Gardener is here.
# Ta-da! #
Danny Clarke is an expert at transforming gardens.
These are really bringing a smile to my face.
Each time, our gardening guru will be showing you
how to create gorgeous garden makeovers.
Doesn't that look great?
Each transformation will be packed with brilliant ideas
to help you get to grips with your own outdoor space.
Just continually deadhead
and you will keep getting that plant to flower.
He'll be turning garden junk...
Oh, look at that!
..into garden jewels.
It's going to be used as a planter,
and I think this is going to look absolutely terrific.
'And showing you how to spend a small budget wisely...'
-That's why Danny makes me bring a list!
'..be it on shrubs or salvage.'
Would you like that in your garden?
'And because Danny is the INSTANT Gardener,
'everything you see will happen in a single day.'
Oh, thank you so much.
Today, we're in Hailsham in East Sussex.
Nestled between the ancient woodlands of the Weald Forest Ridge
and the chalk hills of the South Downs,
Hailsham's position and warm climate
make for excellent growing conditions and glorious gardens.
But we found one that's letting the side down.
Not all gardens have room for hundreds of plants
and a well-kept lawn.
We're here to meet a couple whose outside space is minimal,
but whose hopes for the future are big.
-Hello, I'm Helen. You must be Jess.
-I'm Dave, yeah. Nice to meet you.
-Good to see you.
-Right, let's have a look at this garden, then.
-Cool, come on through.
-Yeah, come in.
Hard-working Jess and Dave King have been married for nearly five years
and recently bought their first home.
But with Jess's full-time studies
and Dave's community work with offenders,
time and money to spend on the garden has been hard to come by.
They're doting godparents to two young children
and would love to have a family of their own.
But so far, that's proved difficult,
as Dave was injured while serving in the British Army.
Nevertheless, Jess and Dave want an enchanting, child-friendly space
for their godchildren's frequent visits,
and for the children they hope to have in the future.
So they've called on the Instant Gardener to work his magic.
Danny's already been to Hailsham,
a few days before starting the transformation,
for a sneak preview of Jess and Dave's bijou back yard.
I've come here for a sneaky peek.
First impressions are very important.
So, I'm going to take a look.
Wow. Now, my first impression of this garden is that it's very small.
I have to say, it's probably one of the tiniest gardens I've seen.
What I'm going to try and do is make it look larger than it actually is.
So I'll use some little design tricks to do that.
And coming down here to the end, I can see a little alley.
A lot of people would probably see this as wasted space.
For me, this space is not a total write-off.
So, let's make something interesting and let's make it usable.
Do you know what?
Overall, a lot of people are daunted with an area this size.
But there is a lot you can do.
You can cram a lot into a small garden,
just by playing little tricks.
A few days later, Danny returns with a plan in mind.
But first it's time for him to meet the garden's owners.
-Good to see you.
-Good to see you, too.
-This is Jess. This is Dave.
-Nice to meet you.
-Hello, Dave. Good to meet you.
It's not going to take us long to explore your garden.
But I think this is a brilliant space. Little sun trap.
-Do you spend a lot of time out here?
-Um, we'd like to, but...
-We try to.
-..at the moment, we don't really feel
it's anything nice to spend time in, at the moment.
Have you done much out here?
-Yeah, can't you tell?
-Um, no. No, we haven't.
-When we moved in,
we was just concentrating on doing bits of work for the house.
But we're trying to have children,
so saving up for IVF and stuff like that.
So we're trying to pick our budget and see what we can do.
In the meantime, you don't want to be spending money on the garden,
-but you'd like to use the space?
How would you like to use the space? What do you want to do out here?
It's somewhere that... We want it to be an extra room.
We want to be able to be out here, spend some time out here.
But the other thing that we would like it to be is child-friendly,
and at the moment, it's a little bit dangerous.
Because not only do we want to have kids in the future,
we would also like to foster in the future.
-But we do have two godchildren, as well.
-Yeah, they are our world.
They spend a lot of time with us. So that's Holly and Aidan.
And how old are they?
Holly is two-and-a-half and Aidan is six months.
And because Holly...
When she comes over here, she loves the outdoor space.
So she'll come out with her wellies on
and likes bouncing a ball in all weathers.
And likes sweeping the leaves for us and...
But it makes our hearts go like this,
cos we're constantly watching her,
that she doesn't fall down the step or anything.
What kind of style?
What is your sort of ideal look for a garden?
I'd like to say we're... we're quite modern,
but at the same time, we love reminders of your childhood.
Or things that make you go, "Aww."
And stuff like that.
So, within the house, we've kind of gone with that theme.
But with a modern twist.
Danny, have you ever been tasked with making a garden
that makes you go, "Mmm"? THEY LAUGH
It's very, very tiny.
But I'm very much aware that you guys want a garden that's for you
as well as for kids.
Anything is going to be better than what's here.
-That's what we've said.
You know, even just doing the smallest thing.
Because it is what it is at the moment.
-It's going to make a massive difference.
I think with a bit of clever trickery,
I think we can make full use of your space.
I believe in you, Danny. You're going to be fine.
-I'm glad you do.
-So much so that I'm going to leave Dave with you.
We're going to get out of your hair.
We're going to go off on a RESEARCH shopping trip.
And you know what's coming now, Helen.
The trusty notebook.
-This is our list, so we don't go off piste.
"A tree or a plant, at least six foot tall."
-We can do that.
-You can do that?
-Have a lovely day.
-See you in a bit.
-All the best.
While I whisk Jess away for a spot of research,
Danny has just one day to transform this dark and pokey plot
into a fun-filled wonderland.
So, what's the plan, Dan?
Now, Jess and Dave want a fantasy garden.
We're in a woodland glade here,
and there's going to be a lot of shade,
so I want to put shade-loving plants into this space.
My mantra is, "Your garden's all about your plants."
So, just because you've got a paved area,
there's no reason why you can't introduce plants into your space.
One of the things I thought of doing
was to create little planting pockets.
If we do that, we can put some plants in there.
This fence is all over the place,
so it needs repairing.
These posts are a bit wobbly.
So we're going to straighten the fence.
We're going to make that good.
And we're going to put a mural on the new one.
So down here... I mean, all I can see is a very narrow alleyway.
So we're going to deck all of this
and we're going to bring it up to the level of this patio here.
You know what this says to me?
It's saying to me, "Skittles."
So I was thinking of putting a bowling alley down here,
for the kids to play on.
The other thing I'd like to do
is perhaps put a mirror against this fence.
Because it's very shady,
we've got this big conifer here, that's blotting out loads of light.
So I want to make it a bit more light and airy.
And, that way, we're going to elongate this space.
So Danny plans to transform Jess and Dave's boring back yard
into a magical and fun-packed space.
He's going to dig out pockets in the crazy paving.
And fill them with shade-loving plants.
He's going to add a mural to brighten up a new fence
and he'll add decking down the side of the house
where the children can play skittles.
It might be a tiny plot, but it's a big ask.
Fortunately, he's got Dave on hand to help.
And, of course, he can also call on trusty handyman AJ...
and his helpers, Luke and Amyrose.
-Hi, Dave. AJ.
-Nice to meet you.
-You too. Good.
Good lad. Good lad.
Dave, one of the most important things with any garden
are the boundaries.
If your boundaries aren't very good,
then your eye goes towards them immediately.
And you're not looking at the beauty of the garden.
-So the first thing we're going to do is to sort this fence out.
We're going to replace it.
-Shall we crack on?
-Yeah, let's get going.
-Let's get started.
As the old fence panels are rotten and need to be replaced,
we've asked permission to use Dave's neighbours' garden for access.
And while they come down easily enough,
Danny's spotted a hidden danger.
There's something that I've become very aware of.
-It's that there's nails just sticking up here...
..out of the wood.
So he has a tip to stay safe.
It's always an idea, when you're taking anything down,
is just try and put everything in one pile straight away.
You're not treading on it.
The last thing you want is to be treading on a nail.
As the old posts are still in good condition,
the team can recycle them elsewhere in the garden.
But, before they fit new ones, there's a job to be done.
What we need to do is get these old posts out.
-These rotten posts out.
-of the ground. The fact is,
-there's usually a big lump of concrete at the bottom of it.
As we don't have much time, and they're in the right place,
if we chisel that out, we can then put the posts in,
-get them straight and then backfill it with some concrete.
And if we can get the holes prepared now,
that's a good job for you to do.
-I'll crack on with that.
-Thank you very much.
-Great, thank you.
While Dave is chiselling away,
Danny is keen to prepare for planting
by working out where he's going to break through the old paving
to create new planting holes, or pockets.
The idea is to put a pocket in the middle of each fence.
So I'm going to mark one here.
So, for now, I'll just do a little dot.
There's going to be a fence panel going here.
So I'm going to make a marker here.
And I'm trying to visualise how the garden's going to look
when it's been planted up.
Now, what I'm going to do is make use of this little bit of bed here.
Marking out before actually making the holes
will give you a good idea how things will look
before you commit yourself.
I had a choice to make here -
either a planting pocket or a pot.
Now, I've chosen planting pockets.
Space is at a premium in this garden.
Pots do take up quite a bit of room.
And the other thing to bear in mind
is that pots are high in maintenance -
you have to water the plants, you have to feed the plants.
Most patios have a gradient running away from the house.
So, the great thing is when it rains,
the water is going to run down and spill into the planting pockets.
And Danny has plans for a star plant at the end of the garden.
Now, what's going in here is a big tree -
it's going to be at least six foot tall - that I've asked Helen to get.
So I need to mark out this hole large enough to take the roots.
While Danny and the boys are bashing away in the back yard,
I'm taking Jess to view an inspirational garden for some ideas.
We're on our way to a garden I think you're going to love.
It's perfect for children and young people,
got all kinds of features for children with different abilities.
So there's a lot going on there.
I really hope this is going to get to your imagination running wild
about what you might be able to do in your garden.
I've chosen a garden that perfectly illustrates
how a space can be transformed into a child's paradise
by a bit of creative design.
This magical woodland walk is in the grounds of Chestnut Tree House,
a children's hospice in Sussex,
and it was designed especially for the young people who use it.
So, Jess, what do you think of this?
Wow, this archway is amazing.
-It's magical, isn't it?
A few magical touches.
-A little door there.
-Oh, that is so cute.
-For fairies, or goblins, or...
And I love the signpost. That is fantastic.
-I feel like I want to wander off into a little journey.
The winding paths kind of take your eyes that way.
Yeah, yeah. It just feels like you're not in the real world.
It makes you want to explore and have an adventure.
-There's quite a lot to see, but it's not busy, is it?
It's kind of taking your eye here, there and everywhere.
It's natural. It's like you're in a story, but it's really natural.
What do you think of the bug hotels, the kind of piles of pallets?
They're natural materials,
all to encourage bugs, beasties, creepy crawlies.
Yeah, I think that's brilliant.
I think my goddaughter particularly, she'd love that.
She'd love looking for all the creatures.
So, the whole idea of fairytales and childlike inspiration,
that's not necessarily for younger people...
-No, not necessarily.
-That's for you guys.
Yeah, I think so. I think that we are like that.
I think that's why we relate to children especially
because we have that kind of romanticised idea.
It's nothing to do with the pressures of adult life.
Jess, this is undeniably fun for children.
-Is it chalkboard paint?
Children will have a great time with one of these.
What about you and Dave?
Are you creative?
I'm not artistic, no. Dave is.
Dave does a lot of murals and a lot of artwork.
Even your colouring in is artistic.
'While Jess and I release our inner children for inspiration,
'back at the house, it's all about perspiration.
'With two hours of the day already gone,
'the old posts are proving a nightmare
'to dig out from the concrete.'
So, the thing is with this, we've got a post in the ground.
It's stuck fast in there because it's surrounded by concrete.
Now, AJ's been really working patiently at this.
And look at that. He's got it out.
AJ, put it there, mate.
And that's the thing with gardening.
You just have to be patient.
-And in the end, it will reward you.
-As you've just seen.
-Sorry, I couldn't hear you.
I had my ears... What did you say?
-Do you want me to repeat that?
The setbacks with digging out the post holes
have already put Danny behind schedule.
And he's got an even bigger job ahead.
Now the next task is to get this concrete up for the planting hole.
-Now, the thing is, I need to go...
If I can just get a plant from over here.
I need to go deep enough
-to put this in the soil.
Well, deeper, if possible,
cos the deeper we go, the better.
So I reckon, if we went down, say, six inches,
which is the depth of this pot, plus another four to six inches,
I think that will give this plant a great start in life.
To break through all that crazy paving in a hurry,
the team has decided to use heavy-duty power tools.
Jackhammers are designed to break through concrete,
but they're not really a tool for the amateur,
so you can also try the slow and safe method
of a trusty hammer and chisel.
Let's hope this baby can save some time for Danny and the team
but it's a tough job,
and Danny welcomed a break to chat with ex-serviceman Dave.
-You're being very patient.
You're quite handy with tools, aren't you?
-You're very practical.
-My main thing is doing art.
Just started doing it as a hobby, enjoy doing it in my spare time.
So you didn't know that you were that creative?
You just started doing it?
Well, because I'm dyslexic and when I was at school, back then,
it wasn't recognised as much, so I was put down...
-Rather than now - I think they help kids.
I used to be put down as a troublemaker in class,
cos I didn't understand what they was doing.
Do you know what, Dave?
-I think everyone's got creativity.
And you're very lucky, cos you found that vehicle.
I'm really excited about all of this, so a bit nervous.
I don't know what it'll look like after. I haven't got your vision.
Imagine how I feel!
-I trust you.
-OK, well, keep up the good work.
Don't go all wobbly on us now, Danny -
there's far too much work to do!
At least AJ is making a start
on the potentially ankle-breaking side area of the garden,
to make it safer and more attractive to use.
I bet you've been wondering what's going on here.
-Er, yeah, a little bit.
-I'm guessing it's some sort of decking.
-Some sort of decking?
That is going to be a bowling alley. All right?
-For the kids.
-I don't know about the kids - I'll be on it!
-Oh, you'll be on it?
You know, it also doubles up as another area as well.
Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Decking will also raise the height of this neglected side area
to the same level as the rest of the garden,
to prevent tripping over the old step.
But what's the best way to lay decking?
Start by building a sturdy subframe.
We've got this treated timber.
This is 3x2 we're using at the moment.
Ideally, we should really use maybe 4x2 for the strength-wise,
but we've got a big lump of concrete here,
and we just don't have the time to dig it all out.
Ingeniously, AJ has been able
to increase the strength of this subframe
with chocks of wood he's recycled from those old fence posts.
These chocks are obviously chunks of wood
that I've cut from the fence posts and they're just screwed in.
Now, the more chocks you put in, the more strength.
Just measure them just underneath,
where the decking is going to go, and that's it.
But why does it need to be so high, AJ?
With a decking area, always have it slightly off the ground,
because if you've got water
that obviously runs through from the rain,
you don't want these cross beams or the framework in general,
on the ground, sitting in pools of water.
Otherwise it will rot a lot quicker.
It soaks it up straight through and it comes through the decking boards,
and the whole lot doesn't have the lifespan that it should have.
And, of course, it must fit securely.
I'm going to have to make a little bit of a framework round...
-..my bugbear, a drain,
because we need to be able to have access to that
and then all along the way here, complete to the end,
and once that's all down and secure,
we've got some nice solid beams here on this side,
which can actually make the whole frame solid
and it's not going to move.
On this side, it will be stilted
on those little chocks I talked about earlier,
and then, just start putting the decking boards down.
We'll be back later for some tips on laying those decking boards.
In the meantime, Jess and I are still at Chestnut Tree House,
to meet the director of children's services, Linda Perry.
-Good to see you.
We love this garden.
Well, the whole concept of the garden started with the children,
and we just said to them, "If we had an extra piece of ground,
"what would you like?"
And we had a mood board set up, and they all cut out pictures
of what they'd like to see in the garden,
and one of the overriding things was that a lot of the children,
they are in wheelchairs or have mobility difficulties,
and can't actually walk along the countryside like you and I can.
So that was the start of the garden,
and so it was around looking at what they can see from where they are,
rather than from where we are.
-So different vantage points?
Something that Jess picked up on is it's quite magical.
-You said it feels like stepping into a book.
Was the idea to create a space that children could escape,
kind of disappear into their own little heads and worlds?
Yes, we had lots of pictures
of things like Wind In The Willows, Hogwarts,
and I think you might have seen some of the little magical doors...
-..behind, and the children love hiding little toys and things
-in there for the next person who comes along.
So there were lots of different concepts like that.
How much fun do the children have in this garden?
Oh, they absolutely love it.
What I think is really good, because of the lovely surface we've got,
-they can use it all year round.
And the children, even when they're really sick,
really like to come out when it's cold or it's snowy,
or raining and obviously,
we've got shelter for them if it suddenly pours down with rain,
but that's all part of the fun.
They love it if it all goes wrong and they get soaking wet.
My goddaughter, she loves doing the muddy puddle thing -
you know, jumping in the puddles,
-and she doesn't care that it gets you dirty.
-It's more fun if it gets you dirty.
We may not all need our gardens
to be wheelchair accessible and child-friendly,
but this fantastical woodland walk is bursting with magical ideas
that would work well in any garden.
Arches and portals invite curiosity and draw you in,
and you can map a journey through a garden,
even if it's not very big.
Create drama by making use of vertical spaces,
with tall structures or plants reaching towards the sky.
And if you're planning a garden to keep the kids busy,
try interactive features such as chalkboards,
and dens that will keep them entertained year-round.
Back at Jess's garden, and with just four hours to go,
it still looks like a building site.
It's taking ages to get through the concrete base underneath the paving
to make those planting pockets, even using the jackhammer.
When he's done, there will be two pockets by the fence
and a larger area by the back door.
In the meantime, while the team has a quick tea break,
Danny wants to get started on the planting by reusing this old trough.
This concrete planter has been in my way all day and I just thought,
"You know, I've got to find a use for it."
Well, why not put the pulmonaria in there?
These are fantastic plans for a woodland garden.
And, you know, the other name for these is lungwort.
And you know the reason for that is that if you look at the leaves here,
they look like a diseased lung.
And in olden times, they used this plant, would you believe it,
as a cure for lung disease.
Thank God we've got penicillin now, that's all I can say.
They kind of look fluorescent-looking.
Now, this part has got lots of leaves, you'll notice that.
Now, the reason for that is because, if it ever gets damaged,
if any of the leaves gets damaged,
there's plenty more for this plant to recover.
And all I'm going to do, I'm not going to put any rubble in here.
I mean, a lot of people like to put rubble in the base of their planters
for drainage but I'm not going to do that,
because this planter is heavy enough
and we've got to move it from this position into the garden.
And this pulmonaria will be perfectly happy
without any drainage in it.
What I'll do is fill this up as much as I can...
There we go.
Put them in in a row,
and then, all I'm going to do, take handfuls...
..and just top the soil up around it. Look at that.
Doesn't that look great?
They need very little care.
They'll just romp away, get on with it, they will self seed,
and before much longer, you'll have pulmonaria everywhere.
Another great bonus with this plant
is that the bees absolutely adore it.
With regular watering,
those pulmonaria will thrive in Dave and Jess' shady back garden
but Danny's found something not quite as healthy
at the sunny front of the house.
-I'd just like to show you something.
It's called a spotted laurel.
-Or an aucuba.
Japanese spotted laurel.
Now, I would say it's in the wrong place,
because it should be in the shade,
and it's at the front of the house, where you've got lots of sunshine.
-Working its way onto the road!
-Well, I don't know about that.
-But you can see it's looking a bit poorly.
-So would you mind if I put it round the back?
-No, of course not.
Yeah? One of the things with plants like this - shade-loving plants -
the way to spot them is by their leaves.
One is the fact that the leaves are so large,
-so they want to catch every bit of sunlight that's available.
-See, this has got glossy, shiny leaves?
It's a way of surviving.
Cos what it's doing, it's taking every ounce of sunlight it can find,
and it's bouncing it off its shiny leaf onto another shiny leaf.
-Oh, right, OK.
-If we just make it happy, put it in the right place,
it will bounce back.
-Do you want me to get...?
Yes, please. Thanks.
And Danny's got another idea to brighten up this shady garden
which will make use of Dave's artistic skills.
Danny's got him a large white sheet of acrylic
to create a mural to bring a bit of drama into the garden.
-The acrylic is to be screwed to the fence.
-All right? So we're going to put it fairly central.
-And really, it's... The theme is for an enchanted magical space.
'While Dave is painting a mural to delight his godchildren,
'I'm taking some time with Jess
'to reflect on why a child-friendly garden
'is so important to her and Dave.'
Jess, you and Dave are very excited about having a garden
that's good for children.
You'd love to have a family - so far, that's not happened.
What is the situation for you guys?
Well, unfortunately, we can't have children of our own naturally.
I think it's particularly hard for Dave,
because he was injured when he was in the British Army
and that's part of the reason why we can't have children naturally.
So what about his military career? Where was he?
He was based in Ireland a couple of times for active duty,
Northern Ireland, and then he was also in Bosnia as well,
and when he was in Bosnia,
he was actually captured and tortured while he was there.
He has suffered quite badly with post-traumatic stress
and, you know, he's been quite poorly in the past,
because of the stuff that happened to him there.
In the last few years, um...
he has overcome a lot of those issues.
He's now not on any medication and he's sleeping much better, um...
and he's just wonderful.
-Hopefully, you'll have your own children one day.
In the meantime, what do you think a new garden,
a new outdoor space, would bring to your lives?
I think for us, it's just an extension of the house,
somewhere that we can, you know, sit after a hard day. And our work...
Our work and my study can be quite intense,
so I think it's just quite nice to have somewhere outside
that you can have that relaxing space.
But things are anything but relaxed in the garden.
There's less than three hours to go,
and the team have only just finished preparing holes
for the new fence poles.
Meanwhile, in next door's garden,
Dave is making much better progress on his mural.
Despite the fact that Danny didn't give him any prior warning,
and he has a tight deadline to work to,
he's come up with his own
mysterious enchanted forest design from scratch.
I quite like the idea as time goes on,
if it starts to fade or whatever, because it's white board,
and as Holly and Aidan get older,
they can start adding into it and going over it,
so it would be their board, basically.
They can just have a bit of fun with it.
Normally, he would work on a painting over several weeks,
but Danny wants it completed in less than two hours.
No pressure then, Dave!
Once the detail comes in and I put some leaves in and a few birds,
the actual details won't take long.
I love your confidence, Dave - that's what we want to hear.
and it's good to see those new posts finally being concreted in
nearly eight hours after the old ones were removed.
Elsewhere, Danny's got a tip
on how to revive the spotted laurel he found in the front garden.
One of the things that it does need is fresh compost. It needs food.
If you think about plants, what do they need?
Two things. They need either feeding or they need watering.
But, as you can see, it's been growing in a pot
and the roots have been going round in circles.
I know it looks like I'm being brutal,
but rest assured that this plant will definitely benefit
from my little bit of tough love.
Get as much of this barren compost out,
cos I want to make room for the new, nutritious stuff.
Free those roots.
Don't be frightened that you pull handfuls away.
This plant will be absolutely fine.
I think I may have done just enough here with this,
so I'll just put a few handfuls in the bottom.
Just check the level by putting that back in.
I'm quite happy with the height of that.
And then just grab more handfuls of compost and pack the sides out.
Get some luscious, nutritious food in there for the plant.
There we go.
Bang! All done.
Bang, indeed! With the old plant successfully revived,
I'm now heading off to a local nursery
to find the special new one that Danny's after.
As always, he's given me a list to follow
and, today, there's just one thing on it...
If you've got something that you particularly need for your garden,
it's worth finding a specialist nursery.
They'll have the expertise to help you
and provide a wider selection for you to choose from,
which is why I've brought Jess here to Architectural Plants,
to look for a larger-than-life addition to her magical garden.
Right, Jess. Cast your eye around this nursery.
Some very special plants here.
What do you think of these kinds of trees?
I think they're beautiful. I think they're lovely,
but I can't see how they'll fit in our garden.
I think you'd be surprised.
Now, this is a nursery that specialises in big plants,
Something like this in your garden would draw the eye up
-and I think you could have something like this.
To find out more,
we've enlisted the help of resident horticulturalist Guy Watts.
Guy, we are looking for something impressive for a small garden.
-Can you have a big tree in a small garden?
-You can, yeah.
It's all about finding the right tree for the right site, really.
So the key thing to do is look for trees or plants
with quite big leaves and glossy leaves,
and they'll be much more tolerant to low light levels.
But if you have a small garden
-and then you get a big tree with big leaves...
..isn't it going to feel a bit claustrophobic?
That depends about the design.
If you take off the lower limbs of the tree - so, lift...
lifting up the tree - you'll create a kind of canopy,
which means that you can grow some amazing plants underneath it.
-They'll need to be shade tolerant, as well.
But you can create a nice sort of jungley, tropical feel
and make your garden feel bigger.
What about this? This looks cool.
Yeah, so, this is a Phillyrea latifolia.
That's the name of the plant.
But it's actually been clipped, cloud pruned.
It's a bit like a bonsai tree.
You could put something like this in the garden.
But again, high maintenance,
and if you're not a horticulturalist or have a gardener,
-I'd recommend you steer clear of it.
-Quite expensive, as well, that one.
They are. Because they are essentially a tree
that has grown over time and been heavily maintained,
they are more expensive, yeah.
'While Jess and I lose ourselves among these jolly green giants,
'back in Hailsham, with just two hours remaining,
'Danny's got more planting plans.'
This is a very shady garden.
And the reason it's shady is because it's surrounded by trees.
And I would say it's really dappled shade, it's not heavy shade,
so these plants will thrive in this particular space.
And what we've got here is a fern
and some hellebores, and they're absolutely gorgeous.
When choosing plants for shade,
it is important to choose the right plants,
cos some plants will not thrive in heavy shade
but would rather thrive in a dappled shade.
So, you know, all you need to do is read the label,
or even do an internet search just to double-check,
or even ask at the garden centre.
So, what I've done, I've put hellebore, then a fern,
hellebore, fern and so on.
And the reason I'm doing this
is cos I want to make this garden cohesive.
I want to give a bit of flow, I want to create a bit of harmony.
Because I've prepared the soil - it's all in the preparation -
planting is very, very simple.
So these will go in the ground in a jiff.
Just keep them coming.
Tease the plants out of the pots.
Just drag the soil round.
Just play around with it like this, give it a nice little tilth.
And, in no time, this will be complete.
Always a good idea just to hold the plant like this,
so you don't damage the leaves.
Just have them slightly proud of the ground.
It just allows the new shoots to come through, OK?
And don't compact the soil.
You can see me patting it around here.
Don't compact it too much.
Cos, when it rains, we want the rain to sort of go to the roots.
We don't want the rain to lie on top.
Talking of rain, it's beginning to shower.
That's all they need(!)
But, despite having just a couple of hours to work on it,
Dave has nearly finished painting his mural.
Although he's still not quite sure
how it all fits into Danny's grand plan.
I'm keeping positive. I've got to know Danny,
and this may come back to haunt me, but I do trust him.
Like, I do know that he's going to be doing...
Whatever is in his head's going to be amazing, so...
That might come back to bite me.
'It's going to really brighten up that shady back garden, Dave.
'Back at the nursery, Jess and I are still looking
'for the one big tree Danny's asked for.'
OK, well, what would you recommend?
First one we'll look at is Eriobotrya japonica,
which has a fruit on it,
but it's actually a very large leaf, glossy leaf.
This is a... What we call a half standard.
So, you remember I mentioned about clipping off the lower limbs?
That gives you some cover below.
And then you've got your shady growth at the top.
If you have got a small garden and you want something big,
is that what you would recommend, keeping the bottom quite bare?
Yeah, I mean this...
Cos I think the idea of what are trying to do for you
is to have that kind of feature plant,
the specimen plant above but, below it, be able to underplant it.
And the problem is, if we went for something very bushy,
it'd take up quite a lot and make your garden feel quite...
-even smaller than it is.
-Most of our stuff doesn't flower,
but I am going to show you Magnolia grandiflora, which would.
THIS is a gorgeous tree.
This is a Magnolia denudata.
But it's deciduous, so that means the leaves drop through the winter,
whereas the magnolia I'm going to show you is shade-loving.
You can see here, the flowers have come to the end.
They've been out sort of February, March time. Beautiful white flowers.
-Then the leaf will come on -
-you can see new buds coming on here, as well.
-It looks beautiful.
It is beautiful. I don't think it's quite right for your site.
-First, you're not going to get the height.
And you won't get that shade-loving side
we get with the Magnolia grandiflora.
-Shall we go and have a look?
So, this is what you would recommend, is it?
Yeah, this is it, Magnolia grandiflora. So, you men...
-Again, we talked about big, glossy leaves.
-Yeah, it's beautiful.
You can see these here, the water coming off them.
And you can see how some of the lower limbs have been cut off.
So, as it grows in your site, we would recommend that you do that.
And does this stay green all year?
Yeah, this is evergreen.
-Unlike the other magnolia, it doesn't drop its leaves.
And it's also really nice,
you can start to see the flower buds coming on,
but they'll come later in the year, so, unlike other magnolias
that are coming out in sort of February, March,
these will be later in the year,
-so you'll get these massive white flowers...
..or cream flowers and they have an amazing smell, as well, so...
Oh, that sounds perfect.
It does look quite big. Is it going to get bigger?
Yeah, yeah, it will, yeah. So these can get up to 20 foot.
But you can always manage magnolia.
-They don't mind being cut back.
The most important thing to remember is plant high.
So, we always recommend you plant about an inch over ground level.
And also, when you're cutting back,
try and avoid when really frosty times.
Well, Danny said get a tree that's at least six foot.
-That is at least six foot.
-How tall are you?
-Six foot, yeah.
-OK, brilliant, thank you very much.
We'll take that if you can deliver it.
Yeah, brilliant. Yeah, we can do delivery.
And I'll also tag it now just to make sure no-one buys it.
-Thank you very much, Guy.
'Jess and I have sealed our deal,
'but with only an hour-and-a-half left,
'Danny is still a long way off
'completing his shoebox-sized creation.'
-Oh, yes, yes?
Just got a text from Jess.
She said that they're about ten minutes away with the plant.
If you could sort of take care of that side of things.
-That would be wonderful.
And we can just crack on and try and get this job finished.
And speaking of jobs that need finishing,
let's see how AJ and Luke are progressing with the decking.
Right, we're getting to the last stages of this decking.
Where... Sort of get it down, screwed down.
Obviously, got to profile round a few of the bits like drainage there.
And to make sure water runs away through it, AJ has another top tip.
Luke is using a 5mm-thick screw to get the spaces going.
But normally, I would cut a bit of wood or even have a 5mm space.
You can use the tiles... You know, crisscross tile spacers.
Stick them on there and you put a few down there,
and you just butt it up, carry on screwing.
But as we're short of time and running out,
I've just said, "Get one of the screws,
"slip it in the side between it,
"hold it down, use another screw, screw in."
It's now the final push to get the garden finished.
Thankfully, those fence panels are going up at last.
Shall we put this one in first?
Well, it is nearly dark, it's raining,
so fingers crossed the job is nearly done.
All right, now you need to come my way now.
You supposed to be making a garden, not breaking a garden.
I know, I know, but, Helen, you can't make an omelette
without breaking a few eggs.
-It's not finished, is it?
-Did you bring me the tree?
Cos we need to get that in the ground right now.
I don't think that's your only issue but, yes, I've got your tree.
-# Ta-da! #
Oh, this is absolutely gorgeous.
It's going to flower later in the year.
-I thought you'd be impressed.
-That would be wonderful.
-You know what, it will give the garden some height.
I've got a lovely home for it.
It's going to fill that space perfectly.
We're talking about plants for shade.
Look at the size of these leaves.
Nice and big - so it can gather any light that's available - and glossy,
which means it's going to bounce the light off all these leaves.
And this is late flowering.
A lot of magnolias only flower in the spring,
but this one is late flowering.
And it's got such a wonderful scent.
It's going to look magnificent in that garden over there.
All right, one, two, three. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
But that's a big tree to plant, and time is against us.
All set, ready?
Look at that. Perfect.
In my expert opinion, I would put bluebells underneath it.
-All right, OK. All right.
I thought that tree was too big when we were in the nursery,
but I think that looks good.
'With the magnificent magnolia in place,
'I can underplant it with shade-loving bluebells.'
I aim to please.
'Essentially, bluebells are bulbs.
'Each year, they'll naturally increase in number, and each spring,
'a host of bluebells will pop up beneath this magical tree.'
I'm still unsure whether we're going to get this done.
The light is fading very quickly.
So while they're doing the painting,
I'm going to get the plants in the planting pockets.
That's it. So if we can get it central over that hole,
cos that's where the plants are going to go.
Dave, that is impressive.
'With the rain getting heavier and the light fading,
'there are still key jobs to complete.'
Let's get all the plants in.
'Behind Danny's back, though,
'I'm doing my bit to get the garden finished.'
Danny thinks that we should cut a slab to fill in that gap.
-I think it will be quicker and easier
if we just put some compost in, put a few extra plants in.
-I agree with you. I reckon we should just do it.
-Right, pull rank?
-Shall we do it, yeah?
If we do it, he won't even know... He's back, he's back, he's back.
Oh, look, you brought plants...
-Brilliant. Cheers, Danny.
-There you go.
Distract him, Dave, distract him. DAVE CHUCKLES
-What do you think of the picture? Nice, innit?
-Yeah, you've done a really good job.
Do we just tip it out? I've seen him do this.
'It might not exactly be to plan,
'but our decisive action could help
'get this garden done before nightfall.'
I think we've still got a bit to do.
Little bit of tidying up to do and I think we're slowly getting there.
'Yeah, SLOWLY is the word.
'Move it, Danny!'
I feel like something's missing.
You just stand there. Yeah.
'And something to delight' children of all ages.
I know it's all about the plans but kind of the skittles, too, right?
-I'm downing tools, so I'm playing with that.
-OK. There you go.
-Yeah, lovely. They're for round the side.
It's now a matter of fixing the last fence panel into position
and getting the garden nice and tidy.
Then, with light fading fast,
it'll be time for the big moment
when Jess and Dave step out into their new outdoor wonderland.
It's time for the moment of truth,
even though darkness has now fallen in the garden.
So what will Jess, Dave and their godchildren, Holly and Aidan,
think of all this hard work?
What's all these people?
-What do you think, Jess?
-Did Dave do that?
-He did, yeah.
Some plants behind you that are going to...
-Oh, that's lovely.
-Look at all these, Holly, look.
When Danny arrived at the start of the day,
Jess and Dave's truly tiny back garden was a dull, uninviting space
with a rotten fence at the back that was falling down,
a neglected, uneven storage area at the side of the house,
and the only plants you could see were the ones next door.
But, in just a few hours,
Danny has transformed it into a magical children's playground.
He's replaced the rickety old fence with a new, solid, upright one
and brightened it up with Dave's impressive mural.
Down the side return, he's laid decking for a bowling alley,
where their young godchildren can play.
And he's cut out planting pockets in the crazy paving.
There's now a striking summer flowering magnolia tree
and a range of shade-loving plants by the back door.
He's recycled an old trough as a container for these pulmonaria
and revitalised a pot-bound Japanese laurel.
And he's made it all look bigger with a mirror on the side fence.
From pokey, dark yard to magical children's play space
in just one day.
Lots of things that Danny hopes your godchildren will love,
-lovely Holly and Aidan.
-We think they'll enjoy it.
-But also, hopefully, this is a space for you guys.
A tree that's going to flower for you in the summer.
Your husband has been grafting all day to create this lovely garden,
alongside Danny. What do you think?
Oh, it's lovely. It looks so lovely.
It looks so different.
Yeah, I love the little plants.
I think it looks bigger.
Putting the plants in, the big plant over there,
-it takes your eye off the boundaries a bit.
And you probably noticed at the end over there, there's a mirror.
That has the effect of making the garden look bigger.
Yeah, brilliant. That's excellent.
Have you seen the end? What's under the mirror?
Yeah, there's decking down there,
so there's no horrible step any more.
-It's not just decking.
-I think I might have to put you down for this bit, Holly.
-Not just decking.
Holly, go and have a look round the corner.
-What's round here?
There's a little bowling alley.
So you can throw a ball at the things and knock them down.
-This is quite a small garden.
Does that mean it was less work?
No. I would say we've done as much work in a garden this size
as we've done in a larger garden.
Holly, our toughest critic.
Is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?
-Do you like it?
-Holly, I hope you enjoy this garden.
I love that you two keep thinking about
how everyone else will enjoy it.
But fingers crossed you'll get lots of pleasure out of it
-for years to come.
-Danny, well done.
-Thank you, Helen.
A little bit of creative thinking
has turned this small, relatively unused back yard
into a skittles alley, a socialising space,
a magical wonderland.
-Have a well-earned rest.
-Thank you very much.
I think it's fair to say
this has been another successful instant garden.
Presenter Helen Skelton, garden designer Danny Clarke and the team try to create a magical and inspiring children's play garden in a tiny, dark backyard in Hailsham.