Monty Don helps people transform their gardens. Monty comes to the rescue of two couples in need of help transforming their rubble-filled gardens into havens of tranquillity.
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Do you dream of having your own special outdoor space,
a small garden that you can admire, enjoy and call your own?
And then you stop and think, "I have no idea how to make it."
Well, you're not alone.
Monty Don has travelled up and down the country
visiting amateur gardeners with bold ambitions.
He's scrutinised their plans
and pushed them out of their comfort zones.
It's going out into deeper, darkest, unknown territory, isn't it?
It's not been easy.
-I hate it.
But everyone's worked incredibly hard.
Both of us want to sleep for a week, pretty much.
You've had your tea break, come on.
And the transformations have been extraordinary.
It's just incredible, it really is.
I declare this garden open.
I do believe that everybody, however small their garden,
can cultivate a big dream.
Ooh, there we go.
This time, Monty is meeting two couples,
who may live 200 miles apart,
but they both share the same view - piles of rubble.
You did your first plant, babe. Well done.
With little know-how... THEY LAUGH
-We need some help, don't we?
Who better than the nation's number one gardener?
You don't need to do anything to it at all, really. It's perfect(!)
..can our couples turn their big plans into a reality?
-I just think that this is messy.
-I want it all.
Can they learn the tricks of the trade?
Boom, boom, boom. You know, go for it!
It's actually quite weird to finally see
what was in my head happening for real.
I feel really emotional about it, actually. Been a long journey.
Our first dreamers live in Tufnell Park.
Ian is a keen environmentalist and works in waste management.
Rose has an artistic flair and is a web designer.
The garden was my idea. Part of the reason for moving
is that we wanted the garden. We lived on the fifth floor before.
I told him we could only have a garden
if I didn't have to do anything with it at all.
And now I can't keep her out of it.
They moved into their basement flat nine months ago
and, although neither have tackled a garden before,
they dream of turning this neglected space into a wildlife haven.
We want to have bird boxes, bat boxes, all kinds of stuff.
-Yeah, frogitats, hogitats.
Stag beetle loggeries, all that stuff.
Their dream is a long way off yet.
At the moment, the garden's a bit of a building site.
We've pulled so much rubble out of the back of the garden.
-We've found bits of bikes, door handles...
Plastic bags, crisp packets, all buried in the garden for years.
And the messy space is not their only worry.
With Monty booked in to come and see them shortly,
they don't yet see eye to eye on the colour scheme.
Some flowers and plants we might have a bit of disagreement on,
but I'm sure we'll come to...
I like white flowers and silver leaves
-and he told me I can't have any.
-Um, just not that many.
Our second dreamers live 200 miles north, in Stockport.
The garden we've got at the moment is a building site,
to be perfectly honest. Would you agree?
I would totally agree.
Jo is a flight attendant so, for her,
long-distance travel is a way of life.
Her husband, Steve, sticks closer to home and works as a baker.
They've just finished an extension to their kitchen,
which means their garden has become a complete dump.
I see it as a fantastic opportunity to rip everything up and start again
-and have the garden that we've always wanted.
-New and fresh.
With Jo's packed flight schedule
and Steve working long shifts at the bakery,
both are in need of a place to relax.
I think it's really important to have a peaceful place,
a sort of sanctuary, really,
just to get away from all the hustle and bustle
and stress of everyday life that we all go through.
Although they both want to create a garden sanctuary,
they have very different ideas.
Yes, it is a big thing to have a water feature and a river
and a waterfall into a pond but...but why not?
I'd much prefer to have a fish tank.
I want it all.
The sun is shining in London
and our novice gardeners, Rose and Ian, are expecting Monty any minute.
-We need some help, don't we?
And who better than the nation's number one gardener
-to help us get there?
Very interested to see what he has to say about our plans.
We spent a lot of time on the plans
and we hope he's not going to completely rip them apart.
-Hi, Monty, good to met you.
-Hi, you must be Rose.
-Hi Monty. Ian.
-Come on down.
-You're down here, are you?
Can I get you a cup of tea, Monty?
If there's one going, that would be lovely.
-Can I have one as well?
-This is a big garden, isn't it?
-It's really big for London.
We were quite astounded. When we saw the place for the first time,
we couldn't believe it. My jaw fell on the floor.
So, you got it as much for the garden as anything else?
For me, it was a big driver.
Less so for Rose, but I really wanted a place with a decent garden.
I told him if he wanted a garden, he had to do all the work in it.
-Yeah, how's that working out for you?
-But I've got drawn into it.
-You've been sucked into the steamy world of horticulture.
-So, what is the plan?
-Over to you.
We want to make a wildlife garden, really, primarily,
but also make it so that we can enjoy a space outside as well.
There's no reason why a wildlife garden can't a) look beautiful,
-and b) you can be part of the wildlife...
-..and use it.
-It's fairly shady. It's a sunny day today and it's fairly shady.
Is that because the trees...? Where does the sun rise?
It's north-facing, so it's coming over the top right now.
We've cut quite a few down already.
The trees are not their only problem.
When Ian and Rose cleared the garden,
they discovered the back wall had collapsed,
so they'll have to find extra funds to rebuild it.
-How much money have you got?
-Well, originally, our budget was £3,000.
-But then, when we found all of that down the bottom
and realised we're going to have to get a builder in...
I'm thinking more like £5,000, £6,000 probably, in total.
I'd love to see what you've got on paper.
-Plan, pictures, ideas, whatever.
-We've got that.
Come on through and we'll show you.
And it's not your usual homemade sketch.
I am impressed!
It's all Rose's doing. I can't take credit for this.
-It's what you get when you have a web designer design a garden.
Well...so far, so good.
Rose and Ian want to create a semicircular patio.
A winding path leads across a circular lawn, with plants round it.
The path continues over the pond.
This will have rotting logs and a rockery to help attract wildlife.
There will be a second, larger patio for entertaining.
And at the bottom, a vegetable patch and shed,
hidden from view by bamboo.
Even though they have a healthy budget of up to £6,000,
Monty wants to help them lift their ideas off the page a bit better.
-There is one problem I can see instantly.
Doing a path snaking across a lawn
means that you will actually walk there.
-That's what I said.
-That's what he kept saying.
-But it looks pretty.
-It does look pretty but...
But naturally, you walk...
Everybody does. It's the line of desire. There are two ways round it.
One is simply lose the path,
so the lawn itself becomes a path
and people can take whatever route they like,
which will tend to be that way. Or make the path straight.
Monty suggests they should make the path straighter,
reduce the size of both the lawn and patio
to allow for more wildlife-friendly plants
and add trellis to the low walls
to grow climbers and create more privacy.
Let's have a look on the ground,
walk it through and sort of say... And then take stock of...
I can tell you, "You're going to have trouble growing those there."
Let's see if we can make a pretty picture into a pretty garden.
That sounds like a plan to me.
This space may be big at 146 square metres,
but Monty wants to encourage more thinking around the content,
rather than the plan on paper.
Don't underestimate the importance of the planting.
-At the moment you're focussing on the big areas.
Generically, THE vegetable garden, THE patio, THE pond, THE lawn.
Actually, the bits in between are going to be just as important.
The more space for planting, the more wildlife you'll have.
Monty also points out some specific areas they must get right.
When you've got your basic structure in, ie the stonework...
-What to put there.
-..and prepared the ground, cos this soil is poor.
-Is it? You can tell, can you?
Then, when it's prepared, then the planting can...
We can start working out what works, what doesn't work.
And before he leaves, Monty is determined to tackle the trees
that will hamper these dreamers' plans.
-Don't pull it down too much.
-No, I'm pushing up, if anything.
-There you go.
-Ooh, there you go. Well done.
OK, now I'll leave you. I'll leave you to tidy up my mess.
Oh, thank you, Monty. Thank you, it's been great.
Bye-bye. And good luck.
And, if the weather stays good, you'll crack on, I know you will.
-Let's hope so.
-All right, see you soon. Bye-bye.
Thanks, Monty. Bye.
It's not often you invite a top gardener in
and he leaves the place more chaotic than when he arrived.
Come back. We haven't finished with you yet.
Look at this mess-up you've made.
I think that Ian and Rose have got a handle on this garden.
They know what they want, they've organised it,
and they've set about it already
with a lot of confidence and efficiency.
Lots to do, lots to buy, lots to organise.
-It's going to take a lot of hard work.
-A lot of hard work, yeah.
-But we're up for it.
-Yeah. You like shopping as well, so that's good.
It's going to need more than a spot of shopping
to get THIS dream into shape.
I've enjoyed today
and I'm enjoying the plans and ideas behind the garden.
Basically, I'm just going to stand by and wait for the call,
when it comes, to help them in any way they need.
In Stockport, despite their complicated work schedules,
Jo and Steve have made time to meet their favourite gardener
and they're hoping Monty will help them settle a minor dispute.
Really excited to see Monty.
Can't believe the day's really arrived at long last.
We can get stuck in and, more importantly,
-we'll find out whether we're having my pond or not, won't we?
Hopefully HE can find a way to...dissuade you.
MONTY KNOCKS ON THE DOOR
-Nice to meet you.
-Hello, Monty, nice to meet you.
-Come and see our garden.
-Is this the new extension?
-This is the new extension.
-So, we took some garden out.
-And here is our garden.
Well, you don't need to do anything at all to it, really.
The garden is 107 square metres in all
and curves around the side of the house.
Every bit of it is in need of a serious revamp.
-Is the soil from the building work?
-It is, yeah.
We dug the foundations out by hand ourselves and buried it over there.
-I'm sure it was hard work, I'm not doubting that.
-But it does look quite light soil.
-It is, yeah.
So, that's informative for the garden.
They want to make a virtue of their leftover soil and create two levels
in the back garden with a retaining wall built from railway sleepers.
-That end is shady.
-And your patio will be sunny.
And then, possibly,
have a sunken area at the back where I can hide away and lose myself.
-So, you're climbing up to sink.
And then, if it's sunken down, I can have the plants at eye level,
listen to the birds, see the wildlife
and just get away from it all.
-We're very enthusiastic and we're going to give it a go.
-I like that.
-That's music to my ears.
-We'll learn by our mistakes.
Seriously, if you're frightened of making mistakes,
you'll never learn anything.
Steve is going along with the plan so far,
but it's time to talk about the water feature.
-Steve's not really keen for a pond.
But it's quite funny because I said,
"OK, tell me why you don't want a pond." So, what did you do?
Like everybody does, I went on the internet, like you do,
and put "Top reasons not to have a pond". I couldn't find none.
Now the couple hope Monty will be the mediator.
-You've both got to want whatever you have.
It's no good one of you imposing something onto the other
cos you're both going to have to live with it.
You've described to me quite a lot of work.
Patio here, retaining walls, steps, hideaway. What's your budget?
It's not extravagant but it's not silly.
-Let's look at these plans. Come on.
-Let's do it.
OK, is this the master plan?
Yeah, so this is the overall plan, so you get the shape of the house.
-And this is to scale?
Jo and Steve's dream garden begins with a large patio area
surrounded by raised beds.
Steps and a path lead through cottage-style planting
to a sunken seating area.
Jo also wants a fountain running into a stream,
which will lead all the way to a pond in the side garden.
The garden will be styled differently
with pebbled and Asian-style planting.
If that's not complicated enough,
the stream isn't in a straight line either.
The more twisty and bendy it is,
-the harder the whole thing's going to be.
So, as you've drawn it...
Bearing in mind that's got to be the highest point.
That's got to be a steady drop, so you're dropping in that direction
and in that direction and then again in that direction and down.
-The stream's open to...
I just think that this is messy.
-Yeah, I think I just want everything in there.
-Yeah, I think you do.
We've sat down and spoke about this many a time.
It's time for Monty to create a bit of order.
This is the sort of detail you need to work out, OK.
-The ideas are fine.
But once you commit something to paper...
..it needs to have a degree of accuracy
if it's to be a plan, otherwise it's a sketch.
Sketches are good and they're fine, but they are not plans.
Monty thinks they should leave the Asian-style side garden for now
and use this space for storage
while they focus their attention on the main part.
The stream should end in a pond in the back garden,
at least for the time being.
He's also concerned about the sunken area.
He thinks it would be simpler to keep to two levels
and use lush planting to create the secluded feel
that the couple are after.
Just keep coming up with ideas and I see so many different things
and I know I've got to pare it back
but it's just, "I like this, I like that."
If you're on a roll and you want to do it, great, push on.
But I'd do that first.
To show Jo just how hard it will be
to fit all her ideas into this space,
Monty suggests they walk the course.
-It's quite small spaces.
-This first thing you've got to do is establish all your levels.
Cos until you do that,
you can't sort out your planting or anything, can you?
With the plan mapped out, sort of,
Monty gets down to some practical help.
I think we could go round, digging up the pants you want to keep,
potting them up.
-If we've got some help, start shifting some of this soil.
Get some grunt into it.
And on cue, his helpers appear, ready for action.
To begin at the beginning,
I think we have to clear this soil and get some sort of shape into it.
So, I think the first thing to do is to cut back
exactly where you want the patio, salvage the plants you want -
and I can help you do that - prune back where pruning is appropriate,
get rid of all the wood and stone and then start shifting soil.
The team get busy clearing.
Jo, who admits to wanting to save everything,
gets expert advice on what to keep.
Now, if we can tie it back at all.
-This will be fine for the rest of the summer.
But then it will need moving and potting on.
But when you pot it on, add grit, drainage - really important.
Jo would also like to save the climbers she's been growing
along the fence, so Monty steps in to give a quick lesson in pruning.
You've got a mixture here of honeysuckle and clematis.
There's an adage, which is, "If it flowers before June, don't prune."
And that applies to Clematis montana,
Clematis alpina, macropetala.
-But now, which is midsummer...
-A perfect time.
Don't leave it any longer,
-because you're cutting off growth for next year's flowers.
So, it flowers on the growth it makes this year.
And Monty leave Jo with a last helpful tip.
If you love a plant, keep it.
If it's really healthy and happy or has a meaning to you, keep it.
-But if you're not sure...
So, I think the reaction to the plans was...mixed.
What I'd expected.
There are a lot of very loose ideas floating about.
Good ideas, but they can't all fit.
Steve kept saying,
"He's going to tell you you need to wind your neck in."
He didn't actually say that but he liked the back.
I said there's a lot going on and he agreed.
I'm delighted that they've agreed to set aside half the garden.
That means they can focus their energy
on the one piece that they're going to see all the time.
And I think, if they can then take control over this mound of soil
that's dictating the shape, and get some order into it,
then it will come together.
I'm a bit scared though now,
cos looking at it now, it's like, "Oh, right, OK."
-It's quite big.
-But it's doable and we will do it.
It's early July.
London is in full bloom and Ian and Rose are busy
trying to make a wildlife haven
from their recently acquired back garden in Tufnell Park.
Just how much has Rose, the web designer,
listened to Monty's suggestions?
Doing quite a lot of what Monty said.
-Straightened up the path a bit. Not 100% straight.
-It will be, yeah.
Cos it's all circles, so entirely straight wouldn't look right.
The light coming through since he was last here has been great,
when he cut the branches down.
Hoping to get some serious work done while the sun is shining,
they have persuaded their friends, Nick and Amber, to help out.
Today's task is digging out the pond.
You can tell we're not massively experienced at this, right?
Ian is also hell-bent on tackling a persistent problem.
It's going right through from the tree, down here,
back out here and burst through this wall.
This wall needs to be rebuilt, so this has to come out.
With four large trees in the garden,
everywhere they dig is a maze of roots.
They can't get on with the new wall
unless they can get rid of at least some of them.
Hoorah, I win!
And their hard graft is paying off for the diggers too.
I think we need to measure some of this.
So, if it's not level, you'll get a skewered pond?
You end up with your pond liner showing.
-You don't want your pond liner showing. That's very bad etiquette.
If we can finish digging the pond out by the end of the day,
-I will be super happy.
-I'm a big fan of the pool thing.
I think I've found my gardening expertise.
The pond might be going well, but Ian has finally found his nemesis.
It's too big here. I will beat you.
Their lack of experience seems to be taking its toll
on the plucky couple.
We keep finding more and more problems as we go.
-But never mind, we're getting there.
-Yeah, we are. It's slow progress.
Which has grown me some muscles.
And me, tennis elbow.
But it's OK. We'll soldier on, you know. It's got to be done.
In need of a boost to their flagging spirits,
not to mention some planting know-how,
Monty has sent our Tufnell Park dreamers to get some inspiration
from a special garden in Essex.
It belongs to Beth Chatto.
She started work here over 50 years ago,
turning this five-acre stretch of the family estate
into one of the best-known gardens in the country.
The land had been considered useless for farming.
Some areas were waterlogged and others were too dry or shady.
It's since been transformed with plants adapted for each environment.
David Ward and his team are experts in planting in woodland,
grassland and wetlands.
Ian's eye is immediately caught by a very special looking shrub.
-Oh, I like this. This is great.
-This one here?
-This is Miss Willmott's ghost.
-That's quite a name.
-The bees love it as well.
-Good bee plant, excellent plant.
It's a biennial plant.
It's called Miss Willmott's ghost
because Miss Willmott, who was a famous gardener
back in the sort of late 1800s, 1900s,
used to take some of the seed and when she visited other gardens,
-she would just throw it around.
And, of course, a couple of years later,
-up would pop these ghostly thistles.
Dave has some good general advice
for what will be happy in shady areas of the garden.
You have to bear in mind that shade gardens under trees,
plants do tend to flower in the spring,
because they've taken advantage of the light and the moisture
-that's there after the winter.
So, in summer, you tend to get lots of foliage, so it's important
you choose good foliage plants, such as this lovely black grass.
-Yeah, we love this.
-Perhaps ferns elsewhere.
If you have a look around here, there's not a great deal of flower
but there's a lot of foliage, a lot of form, a lot of shape.
This one's particularly interesting, Dave. What's this one?
-This is a lovely fern, isn't it?
-This is Wallich's fern, Dryopteris wallichiana.
-A lovely fern, lovely statement fern.
-It is very bold, isn't it?
It's very bold. That lovely dark mid rib to the fern,
lovely dark, glossy, green leaves. It's a real feature plant.
There are many, many hundreds of varieties available.
-This is quite easy to get hold of.
-It is? Good.
The gardens are also designed to encourage wildlife
and a key part of that is the pond.
We'd really like a lily, a water lily.
-Just the one.
-Not too many cos it's quite a small pond.
What sort of conditions do they like?
Again, we've got quite a lot of shade over our pond
but they would get a couple of hours of sunlight.
Water lilies, in general, do like as much sunlight as possible.
They do tend to flower better in the sun. It's worth a go.
Everything's an experiment when you're gardening.
-But they won't die?
-They won't die, no.
-They won't flourish as well.
They wouldn't flourish as well, no.
There's another choice you could use, which is water hawthorn.
It's not as dramatic and lovely as a water lily,
but quite an interesting spike of white flowers.
David explains that water hawthorn shows off its white blooms
from early spring and is perfectly suited to smaller ponds.
-That's always worth considering for a shady pond.
It's been a really inspiring visit for our amateur gardeners
and helped them get beyond the first phase of their ambitious project.
Lots of things to take back to the garden then.
-Yeah, we certainly have.
-Once we get over the rubble stage.
It really focussed our minds a bit more.
It's been very much about the planning and the structure
and the landscaping of the garden and now it's finally coming together
and you can perceive it as a whole piece, so that's been really useful.
In Stockport, Jo and Steve are hard at work.
They have big plans to transform their garden into a tranquil space,
with lots of different areas of interest.
But, as Monty suggested, they're focussing on the back garden.
We're getting there slowly but surely.
Starting to see some progress.
Yeah, the big dream is coming alive at long last.
To help them work out if they really want to dig the sunken area,
let alone a complicated stream,
Monty recommended finding the level for their retaining wall,
one of the few features not up for discussion.
Those sleepers - if I never see
-or have to drill into a sleeper ever again...
Today, the couple have got in some extra muscle
in the shape of Jo's step-dad, Ian, and Steve's dad, Dave.
But as they try and get the sleepers in place, it is clear
that Jo is project manager and in the end, it's her word that counts.
Jo, come and have a look at this.
-Right, it's not actually that bad, is it?
Sleeper sorted, the men take a rest, but not for long.
You've had your tea break, come on!
Right, what about if we get cracking on and get that level done?
Come on, you two, put your back into it.
With the heavy lifting done,
the project manager allows Steve to try
something altogether more gentle.
Push it in with your fingers hard, so there's no gaps.
You did your first plant, babe. Well done.
Right, come on.
Although the garden is starting to take shape,
Jo and Steve still have a never-ending to do list.
So, backfill the pond, get the liner in, water feature,
-lay a patio and a pergola.
-Never mind lighting.
-Lighting we need to sort.
-But, yeah, that's not much, is it, in a few weeks?
-Tables and everything else.
Yeah. We'll just see how we get on with that.
To try and help Jo and Steve understand
that sometimes less is more, and give Steve a well-earned rest,
Monty has suggested they visit Marwood Hill Gardens in Devon.
Set in a valley, the 20 acres is protected from the elements
and has its own microclimate.
The gardens were created by the late Dr Jimmy Smart,
who moved here in the 1940s.
He received the Victoria Medal of Honour
for his horticultural achievements.
It's home to an exciting collection of rare flowers,
as well as spectacular cottage-style borders.
These were definitely on Jo's wish list.
-I'm Joe as well. Hello.
-Very nice to meet you.
Joe Reardon-Smith is the head gardener here
and he redesigned this herbaceous border earlier in the year.
I love the mixture of colours.
Not really a big fan on pinks, although they look stunning.
Joe explains how he mixed the plants to create this overall look.
-Yeah, that's got a more soft salmony tone coming through it.
And it goes fantastically with the persicaria, which is lovely.
So if you have lovely bold groups
which are sort of soft and flowing forwards...
-Don't have it too bitty.
-Keep it simple, but effective.
He also adds a tip which is music to Jo's ears.
All these plants will then sort of carry on
and just keep going for you, right throughout the summer,
with very little maintenance.
They're very well-behaved creatures, very tough.
They'll just go to sleep in the winter.
My idea of gardening, when we've done the hard work and finished it,
-is to sit back and enjoy looking at it.
Bit of weeding, bit of pottering,
-but not too much messing about with it.
If you get the bones right and you get the preparation,
and you decide very carefully what you want to put in there,
and don't be afraid to almost repeat blocks of colour around the garden.
-Because it holds the whole garden together.
And just like Monty,
this expert gardener tells our dreamers they are better off
choosing a smaller selection of plants to create a big impact.
-This lovely little creature is a foxglove, would you believe?
It's really quite perennial. It'll come back year after year.
It does like the sunshine and likes a good well-drained spot.
Foxgloves do grow well in our garden.
-They're Steve's favourite flower.
-They're my favourite.
-Well, just have this on a miniature scale.
-But they're lovely.
We've had a lovely day here in Devon.
Fantastic gardens, lots to see, lots of knowledge,
and Joe's been a fantastic host, given us lots of ideas.
And the advice from both gardeners, to pare down their plans,
seems to have worked with Steve, at least.
In my mind, he's made it a lot clearer and a lot more simple
of how we can make an impact
with two...possibly three, types of plant,
rather than having a whole host of plants.
-As they say, less is more.
-I'd be less.
-Great day. Really enjoyed it.
It's the middle of August
and Monty is arriving any minute at Ian and Rose's Tufnell Park flat.
They hope to transform the space
into a neatly designed haven for wildlife and themselves,
complete with pond and patio.
And in order to get that done,
they've decided to leave the veg patches until next spring.
Plans are starting to take shape now.
We can see all the different habitats
and it's actually starting to look like a garden for the first time.
-We've got soil, we've got patio.
-We've got a pond.
With a very particular touch.
-We've got a lot of plants. We just need to get them planted.
But Ian and Rose are feeling a bit defeated.
We are broken to the core.
Both of us want to sleep for a week, pretty much.
We didn't really realise how much work it was going to be.
Oh, dear. It's lucky Monty is coming back to give them a boost.
I'm delighted to see you and equally delighted
-not to see the detritus and building site that was here.
-Was it that bad?
-So, has it been solid graft?
-And we've had a lot of help. We have had a lot of help.
But clearly the path's in and the patio's in and the pond's in.
Have you dug this deeply or have you just raked it over?
-No, it's all dug over. All the rubble out.
-60 bags of soil improver are in the ground.
You won't regret it, I promise you.
-Any preparation is going to bear fruit.
-It won't be wasted.
Monty can see how much work they've done and how exhausted they are,
so it's time for some fun.
-OK, let's get some system into this.
To start with, are there any plants that you really know
-where you would like to put them?
-A few, yes.
-Let's start with those.
These ones in bags have come from my mother.
Oh, they're still nice and wet.
Right, cardoon - really big, structural, glaucous foliage,
-can grow six, eight foot tall...
..every year and then will die back and will then grow again.
Thanks to their inspirational visit,
they've mostly gone for plants that like shade.
-Maybe at the back or in the middle?
-No, no, keep...
-Keep them all together?
-Keep it ferny.
Keep it simple and strong.
But a few sun-lovers have slipped through the net.
With the cotinus, what I find with cotinus is they need
as much sun as you can give them
because the purple foliage struggles
-to photosynthesise if it's in shade.
This structural planting, if you're happy with it,
-can go in the ground now and then you can work around it.
With the larger plants laid out, the backup team get going
and Rose is determined to get a special plant installed,
with Monty's expertise.
-I'd really like some help with planting my water lily.
-It's come barerooted.
-So, I think I've got all the materials.
Water lilies tend to come barerooted
and you've got yourself a good aquatic basket,
which has got holes in it,
which allows water in and, to a certain extent, roots out.
So, that's right. You've got aquatic compost.
-Have you been using this already?
-No, the foxes split it open.
And spread it all across the whole garden.
-We have terrible trouble with them.
-Which variety have we got here?
-Whoa-ho, nice and rich.
-Beautiful colour. So stunning!
Monty approves of Rose's choice.
The impressively named black princess
is one of the largest hardy water lilies,
and as it blooms, its petals become a darker and darker shade of red
until it's almost black.
So, these roots are enough to get us going
but they're not very extensive.
-So you need to give it a good start in that.
So, if we put some compost in the bottom...
..like that. That's it. Firm it in a bit more.
And a bit more.
-Then, when that's in place... You've got some pebbles, I see.
You've obviously done your homework. You know what you should be doing.
-I did my research.
-I'm sure you did.
The pebbles actually aren't 100% essential.
What they do is two things.
To a certain extent, they stop the soil floating off into the water.
And also, if you have fish,
they stop fish nibbling into the soil,
looking for little things to eat,
-and that sends clouds up and that pollutes the water.
So, we just put a nice layer of stone over it, like that.
Just spread it round.
Little bit more.
So, that is acting both as a plug, sort of a lid, on the soil.
Having learned that water lilies must have sun to flower well,
Rose has chosen to put hers in the sunniest spot, right at the edge.
Palm down flat and put your palm down flat next to it.
-No, from the bottom bit.
-Oh, from there.
-Oh, it just about might make it.
It can go deeper than that without any trouble.
Monty explains that the aim is for the leaves of the lily
to float happily on the surface of the pond.
We've got the momentum going on placing some plants.
It's not an exact science.
So, in the end, it's going to be a matter of choice
and it's something that you two can work out for yourself.
Most of these plants will cope
with most of the conditions you offer them, so they're fine.
And I can't wait to come back to see them all planted,
masses of plants, everything good, and it'll be party time.
-It will. Let's hope so.
-It's starting to come together.
-It really is, yeah.
What was in our heads - well, YOUR head, actually -
your head and then a printout is now looking...
It's actually quite weird to finally see
what was in my head happening for real.
I think Ian and Rose have turned a corner.
They've moved beyond treating the place as a building site
and have started some planting, which is great.
And the important thing is that they don't see the planting
as another job to be done, but something they can luxuriate in,
that they can really enjoy and make personal.
And then the garden will come alive.
In the North of England, Steve and Jo have been busy
and it seems Jo has finally taken on board
Monty's advice to simplify her ideas.
I think I wanted everything everywhere but, yeah,
it does actually make a lot of sense
and that's what's been really great about him saying,
"This is too much, this is too much."
She had hoped to create a sunken area at the back of the garden,
next to a stream running into a pond.
But it looks like she's realising that it all might all be too much.
A lot of the things that I must have on my list, we're not having now,
-but I think that brings more to it than takes it away.
-And it's less work.
Even with scaled-back plans,
there's a lot to do and it's not the greatest day for it.
But they have help on the way and Monty's not put off by the weather..
Jo and Steve's original plans that they showed me
were very typical of a lot that I see,
which is lots of nice ideas but too many.
So, hopefully, I've persuaded them to simplify it right down.
But it doesn't matter how good it could be.
If they haven't done the earth moving, if they haven't got
the foundations in place by now, there'll be trouble.
-You've clearly been busy.
The biggest hurdle, which we thought would be straightforward,
was the sleeper wall.
-We thought that would be quite straightforward.
-Oak is hard.
-Oak is very hard.
I dropped a piece on my foot and now I know how hard it is.
-So, the levels are good, you've painted everything.
-And then you've got the pond.
-Which has moved.
-Which has moved.
-It's moved, yeah.
Monty's interested to see how much Jo's plans have changed.
-So, you wanted your private area though, too.
We're not going to do sunken.
We decided that we've really moved enough soil.
-Do we need to move any more soil?
-Practicality kicked in.
-I am very happy to help as much as I can.
So, what would you like me to do with you today,
to start with anyway?
The tree might be a good starting place, to get the tree in.
So, let's start with the tree. Come on, the rain's stopped.
-Let's start with the tree.
-Fabulous, let's do it.
Jo has got an apple tree
and although it was bought on a pyramid frame,
the couple want it to grow along the fence as an espalier.
If you're planting any tree or trees,
the thing to remember is you want it to go sideways and not down.
So, make sure the ground is well dug all around it, rather than below it.
Monty explains that planting the tree high in the bed
will prevent the roots from sitting
in too much moisture and then rotting.
When you're training these things, you need a stem.
-So, for example, that could easily be one.
And so could that. That's a nice one there.
The couple look on in trepidation,
as Monty goes to work on their new tree.
So, we don't need this one here, so we can take that out.
And we won't need that one, so I can take that out.
We can be ruthless and just take it out.
Don't be too rough with it.
Start by bending it down
and then gradually lower it as it wants to go.
Now all they have to do is secure the branches where they want them.
-What we do need is some structure. Got any bamboos?
While Steve is left in charge of the apple tree,
Jo wants Monty's help planting box hedges
that have been stored next door for safekeeping.
My neighbour's very kindly lent his nursery bed to us.
Ah, that's handy.
Let's take a wheelbarrow full and see how we go.
-How you doing?
-It's a bit wonky.
That's not very supportive, Jo.
Let's hope their garden hero is a bit kinder.
Ta-da! Not bad, not bad.
Um... Try and get the ends level or, if anything, slightly up.
-What you don't want is the end growing down.
-Ah, right, OK.
And when you're tying it in, tie in front, like that,
and that will be pruned back.
And then tie right down to the last couple of inches.
Other than that, that's fine.
-Where do you want this box?
-Um, I'm sort of thinking in front of the...
-Along the back?
-Yeah, in a straight line.
Is the desire to have a hedge that's going to be clipped,
to have a loose background? How do you want it to be?
I'd like them to be shaped, actually.
Shaped into what sort of shapes?
-Maybe a ball or...
-So, you want a series of balls?
-Is it quite easy to maintain?
-Yeah, dead easy.
In another change to her original plans,
Jo is now going for a more streamlined look
with her planting, complete with topiary.
Monty shows her how to space out the hedges.
I suggest we get the two back ones exactly where you want them.
Once in position, there's nothing for it but to reach for the shears.
When you clip, you're making it grow thicker.
You have to remember that the highest point
is the top of the curve.
So, if we go here, for example, we want to cut off all the long growth.
-Just concentrate on controlling the shears...
-Don't think about how you're controlling the shears.
-And that truly is the secret of it.
But when you're tentative and you think, "Shall I cut there or there?
"Oh, God, I've taken... Oh, God!" It's no good.
Boom, boom, boom. You know, go for it!
I know you've both worked very hard, so keep with it
and it's not long before I come back to see the finished thing.
-Um, another month or so.
It'll come round quick, I think.
-It'll come round quicker than perhaps you want.
-But not quicker than I want, cos I can't wait to see it.
-Good luck. Enjoy it.
-Monty, thank you again for everything.
Well, it was a real delight to see how much work they've done.
They've really tackled it and, I think, solved the problem.
So, that's good.
And we made some tentative steps at planting, despite the weather.
And as we were doing so, I realised how important this is to Jo.
This is her project and it really matters to her in every detail.
And when I come back and see
what I hope will be the finished planting, with all its layout...
..I think it will be a portrait of Jo.
And if she's happy, then Steve will be happy too.
There's times when we've gone, "What are we doing?"
There's been lots of times.
But we've cracked on and I'm happy with where I am.
The budget's going...quickly. And we're nowhere near done yet, so...
It's starting to shape up and really pleased
with how it's coming together.
So, a few more weeks and then it'll be party time.
Summer is almost at an end
and time is running out for our gardening couples.
In Tufnell Park, Rose and Ian have left some fairly big details
till the last minute. The beds are half-empty
and the rockery and waterfall are still unfinished.
-How does it connect onto the pump?
-We've got Jubilee Clips.
-Which is in there.
Luckily, Rose's mum and dad, Wendy and Laurence, are here to help.
The water feature was always quite an unknown, I think.
Getting the hose for the waterfall is probably the trickiest bit.
Once it's set in stone, we can't really move it -
literally set in stone, we can't move it.
The important thing, apparently,
is to get the right sound as the water goes into the pond.
That's the essential.
In Stockport, despite Steve's 12-hour shifts
and Jo being away for six international trips,
the back garden is finally taking shape.
And even though Monty advised them to stick to one area at a time,
they want to surprise him
by trying to finish work on the side garden as well.
Not quite happy that it's not flush.
Cos it's acrylic, it's got a bit of a bend in it and a bow,
so it's like a comedy mirror. So, you either look skinny or fat.
-I want it just to look normal.
-A circus mirror.
We've been trying to do this job and, in my head,
it's going to be all very straight and perfect,
-but there isn't a straight edge in this garden, is there?
To help with the final push, Jo's step-dad, Ian, and mum, Linda,
are getting on with the finishing touches.
Done great really. We've put the graft in.
We didn't expect to get this area finished and we have,
so that's a complete bonus.
Now everyone just wants to get the final details right.
I was a bit nervous at first - well, really nervous, to be honest.
I don't want Monty walking in and pointing out any flaws.
In north London, Ian and Rose are ready
to show off their dream wildlife garden.
They've finally caught their breath
but the work to date has been punishing.
DEFCON One is here.
We're ready and now we can actually take the foot off the gas and...
-We're going to sleep for a week.
Let's hope they can stay awake long enough
to show off the fruits of their labour to their gardening guru.
This was a big project.
The garden is big, the designs were ambitious
and I know that, once they started work,
they were surprised, if not shocked,
by the amount of clearing they had to do,
just to get to the point where they could begin to lay out the garden.
So, how far they've gone
in completing their original intentions, I don't know.
It doesn't matter. But what does matter, and what I do want to see,
is enough of a garden so they can relax and enjoy it.
-OK, let's see.
-Welcome to the garden.
-Here it is.
-The moment of truth.
I'm taking it in, I'm taking it in.
Just four months ago,
this garden was full of broken concrete and bricks,
with neglected flower beds and a crumbling back wall.
Now it is as elegant a garden as you could find in all of London.
Rose's design has retained the meandering path,
which leads you on a journey from lawn to patio,
across the wildlife pond.
The slate rockery and waterfall provide a central feature.
And they have not forgotten the wildlife.
Next to the pond,
the wood pile creates shelter for frogs and insects
and bird feeders and homes for bees are set up, ready for visitors.
Under the trees, their shade-loving plants,
many of which were propagated by Rose's mum,
are just beginning to fill out the beds.
It's great! Do you know what strikes me, looking at it?
It's amazingly close to the design you first showed me.
-It is, actually.
The circles are there, the rhythm, the path through it.
I know it's been modified and changed
-but the spirit seems to me exactly there.
-That must be gratifying.
Because you've invested into the garden.
You invested your sweat, probably, your blood
-and certainly, probably, some tears...
-..into the work.
Injuries, everything else, yeah.
-Have you had chance to sit and enjoy it?
-What about the budget? What about the money side of things?
-We spent a lot of money.
-What are we talking about?
We've ended up at about £7,000.
-It's a long-term investment.
-Can I have a look? I want to see the pond.
Let's go and walk through the path which is so much better
for not being too sinuous - or at least not serpentine.
Obviously, the pond is the centrepiece of attracting wildlife.
-Tell me what you've seen already.
-We've got a frog living somewhere in the woodpile.
-The birds love to come and bathe in here.
Yeah, I saw a jay one morning having a bath. That made my day.
Do you feel now that the building phase is over?
The hard grafting is done.
We can actually enjoy the fruits of our labour, as it were, you know.
That's hugely rewarding, it really is.
-Now we're going to sleep for a week.
-Let's celebrate before you sleep.
-You've got guests coming.
-We have, yes.
-Well, I'll come and help you get ready.
-All right, great.
We've got a little bee hotel up there as well,
for the solitary bees.
Coming back today and seeing the grass in and the planting areas
and the pond and the waterfall, it's just astonishing.
I can't believe they've done it. I'm a bit jealous, if I'm honest.
Our thanks to all, Monty, friends and family.
-To the garden.
To round off the visit,
Rose has something special to share with Monty.
So, I made a little board of pictures of our progress
-along the way.
-Let's have a look.
-This was the day that you came.
You can see all the braches that you cut down from that tree.
That's classic me. I'll come in, cut down the branches,
-and "Must be going."
-And then leave the mess.
-Leave the mess.
This was Rose's vision and it's just stunning. It's really stunning.
Ian and Rose have really grafted to reach this point
and I think it surprised and even shocked them.
But they stuck with it and they've made what they intended to do
and it's fantastic so far.
-I think we have created what we wanted, haven't we?
-It's so peaceful in here.
-It's very peaceful.
-It's so nice to have people back there today.
You get a feel for how it's going to be when we're entertaining.
They can now sit back and rightfully celebrate not the completion,
but the start of an exciting new development in their life.
In Stockport, after a heroic effort to get everything finished,
Jo and Steve can't wait to show Monty what they've been up to.
I think he'll be pleased. We took a lot of his ideas, actually.
I've reined it in, which is quite a big thing for me.
There's been days where I've got out there
and just been exhausted and wanted to cry.
And you lot have been amazing with me bossing you around,
cos somebody's got to be project manager.
Well, you like to think you're bossing us about but...
I feel really emotional about it actually.
Been long journey.
Oh, come on.
Jo and Steve have worked really hard to get to this point
and they both lead very busy, complicated lives.
And the end product, above all, has got to fulfil their dreams.
-Welcome to our garden.
-Look at that!
Just ten weeks ago, Jo and Steve's garden
was little more than a mound of soil, left by recent building work.
It is now a two-tiered peaceful haven.
The large patio feels sheltered and secluded.
Water flows from the upper level into the fish pond,
creating a simple feature to be enjoyed from the comfy seating.
A straight path draws your eye to the back of the garden
and evergreen plants and the new bamboo screen
block out the world beyond.
Jo and Steve have stuck to a planting palette
of just green and white, which gives the whole garden
a sophisticated and calm feel.
I'm really struggling to remember what it was like, actually,
because it's extraordinary. Are you happy now with the end result?
-Over the moon, absolutely over the moon.
The picture that you were painting to me,
-it was very different to what we've got.
How has that evolved and is it for the better?
Have you had to make difficult choices or has it fallen into place?
It's sort of fallen.
-I think the biggest bit of advice you gave was keep it simple.
So, when I told people about my ideas, I said,
-"I want Asian, I want cottage, I want modern..."
So, I felt like it was a bit of a round the world in ten minutes.
I like the way at the back you've got the body that you spoke about.
-That's really good.
-This feels, to me, like a very calm place.
-Is it working like that for you?
And I wanted lots of seating areas and I know you say yourself,
you don't get to sit in your garden much,
and it's like, wow, it's great. Love it, absolutely love it.
And the pergola, when it's clothed with the wisteria, will be great.
Yeah. We've done a lot, obviously, costwise, so we've tried to be...
Well, costwise is something we're going to talk about.
How's the budget looking?
Clearly you've spent wisely and people usually underestimate
what they need to spend on plants.
-Or how many they need often.
-But that's not all.
-We've got something else to show you.
-A nice surprise, hopefully.
-OK. Let's have a look.
-You couldn't resist it, could you?
-Just look what you've done.
As a complete surprise for Monty,
Jo and Steve have also transformed the side garden,
keeping a simple path for access.
The ground is now covered in delicate pebbles
and planted with acers, calla lilies and toad lilies,
giving it the exotic Asian style they were after.
The painted arbour and bench add colour,
while mirrors are set into the trellis,
adding light and a modern finish.
That is extraordinary. Well done. So, you've got your Japanese garden.
-Well, we're going Asian.
-Asian, sorry. OK, Asian.
Again, this has evolved a bit, hasn't it?
To be honest, I'd stopped thinking about it.
-Do these plants come within your budget?
That really does make the budget more impressive really.
-And the arbour, everything's included.
Cos you've got two quite distinct gardens.
As I wanted water in every garden, I wanted stream, I wanted pond,
I wanted... But actually, when you sit, you can still see the water.
And you can hear it. It feels very relaxing.
-So, you do get sun here, don't you?
I thought you were going to be pushed flat out to finish the rest.
-It looks lovely. It looks clean, it looks fresh, it looks loved.
-So, you've made a beautiful job of it.
-Both of you.
-You should be very proud.
How are you? Come on in.
-What do you think? Can I have a kiss? Ah!
-Hey, Georgie boy.
They've done a fabulous job.
I really didn't think it would be up to this stage so soon.
They've worked really, really hard.
Go and sit on there. Off you go.
To a magical new garden and for a magical new life.
So, well done, both of you. I'm really impressed.
-To the garden.
-ALL: To the garden.
Seeing it all come together, I feel really emotionally proud, you know.
They've just done so well.
-I'm going to slip away.
-Thank you so much.
-Thank you. And well done.
-That's the crucial thing.
It's been a real pleasure to see it grow and one day,
-maybe I'll come back.
-Yeah, you're very welcome any time.
All right, enjoy the rest of the day.
-Thank you, bye.
-Shall we have a drink now?
-Yeah, come on.
It's always really enjoyable to see something come together.
And my one hope is, after all this work
and all this effort and all this skill, too, in making the garden,
is that it brings them what they originally wanted
from the garden, which is peace
and a sanctuary from all the stresses and strains of the world.
And I wish them every success.
That's it. We're done. I'm not sure what to do now.
The gas tank's empty now. It's time to relax and enjoy it with family.
-Course it is.
-I love it.
-It's our time now.
Monty Don travels around the country helping amateurs to create the garden of their dreams. This week, he comes to the rescue of two couples in need of help transforming their rubble-filled back gardens into havens of peace and tranquillity.
In north London, Ian and Rose have recently moved into their new basement home and are hoping to create a wildlife-friendly space. Currently it is a building site - neglected by previous owners. They also need expert advice since their plot is surrounded by four large trees blocking a lot of natural sunlight. Even if they manage to clear their space, can they ever create the garden of their dreams? They are in serious need of help and advice, but can Monty set them on the right track?
Meanwhile in Stockport, Jo and Steve's equally large garden has become a dump as they build a new extension. The couple lead busy working lives with Jo travelling the globe as an air hostess and Steve working long night shifts at a bakery. Their longed-for dream is a haven to relax and get away from it all in. The problem is Jo has so many exciting ideas about what she wants to do and Steve is rather more pragmatic. Can Monty help the couple work out the best of their ideas and give them the advice they need to get going?