Garden renovation series. Charlie Dimmock and the Rich brothers are in Bolton, competing for a budget of £6,500 to design a garden for Lorna and Luciano and their two sons.
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With her can-do attitude, love of simple gardens and decades
of experience... Hello! ..Charlie Dimmock is one
of Britain's best-loved gardeners. Looking good, boys!
But the new kids on the gardening block are the Rich brothers.
We want to be the brothers that change people's perceptions
of gardeners. Winners of multiple medals at the Chelsea Flower Show...
Oh, good turn! Amazing, isn't it?
..the boys have become known for their dramatic outdoor spaces.
Now, these two different generations of gardening are going head-to head.
I know they've got a gold medal, but I can ham up with a few ideas.
They are meeting frustrated garden owners across the country...
The photos made it look tiny. It is, isn't it?
I'm sure you've seen larger. I don't know what to do with it.
..and will each pitch them a design based on their needs... Wow!
..and budget. That looks really exciting. This doesn't look like
it could be our garden. The winner... Whoo!
..brings their design to life... Hold on, hold on!
Sweet as a nut! ..and the loser has to help them build it.
Oh, I'm getting irritated now. We are, sort of, faffing around.
This is what happens... Does he ever get irritating? All the time.
..when different styles collide... Who chose these? One, two, three...
This looks like your design. Yeah!
..to turn garden dreams into reality.
Wow! Open your eyes.
Oh! It's beautiful.
It's time for Charlie and the Rich brothers to discover
whose garden they are going head-to-head over his time.
We have just heard from this lovely couple in Lancashire,
Lorna and Luciano. He is from Sicily and has got two Italian restaurants.
Luciano came to the UK 12 years ago and lives in Bolton, with his wife
Lorna and their two sons, Bruno and Rocco.
We all met in this restaurant in which I used to be there -
restaurant manager in there. And I was working part time.
That was about ten years ago? Yeah, was about ten years ago.
They have just moved in to this house seven months ago
and finished modernising it.
But the garden has, kind of, been left.
Well, it looks pretty cool, doesn't it?
There is gigantic hedge around,
which is nice and green, for a boundary. And the patio -
that looks in quite good condition. It doesn't look that bad!
I know what you mean.
There's lots to like about this garden, and in theory,
with a little TLC, it could be lovely, but in practice,
it doesn't work for a family with two young children.
There is a lot of stone. A lot of stone edges.
We have got a five-year-old and a one-year-old.
so it's like "Careful, don't run!" "Don't do this, don't do that."
And we don't want that. We want them to run free
without hurting themselves.
So, making the garden safe is a priority,
but that is not the only thing on their wish list.
It would be good to have a nice barbie, a nice pizza oven,
and make out own dough and make our own pizza. Yeah. Proper. Yeah.
That would be great.
At 70 square metres, this is a pretty big plot
and because it needs to be a kids' garden and an entertainment space,
the couple have saved hard to get what they want.
Careful on the steps!
Quite a good budget on this one -
Wow! That is big.
Charlie and the Rich brothers now know the extent of the challenge
that faces them. They will now compete for the chance to makeover
Lorna and Luciano's garden.
So, Charlie and the boys go head to head,
and each come up with a design that works within the family's budget.
The couple will then have to choose a winner,
and whoever loses will have to help the winner build the garden.
It's the day of the pitch,
and Charlie and the brothers are in Bolton
to present their finished designs to Lorna and Luciano.
Who will the couple go for?
Will it be Charlie with her practical approach and years of experience in creating family gardens?
Here we go. Wow. Wow. That looks amazing.
Or will they be hoping that the boys, with their landscaping savvy,
will create a space that ticks all their boxes?
Oh, wow. That looks good, eh?
Good first impressions. Good.
It all boils down to this - the pitch.
We know that you needed a very family garden -
something that is really family-orientated - and what
we have done is split it subtly into two kind of spaces.
You have got more of an adult-orientated area here
and then you have got the more child-friendly area at the back.
We want to use this original patio area at the top as your
al fresco area. Yes. You can have the little pizza oven,
so really encourage you to eat out and enjoy that aspect of the garden.
That sounds amazing. So, this is half a garden for the grown-ups
and half for your children to use up all their energy.
I have basically taken the wall out on the patio, the lower patio.
That way, it will make that patio seem bigger. And then, I want to
sweep the lawn up to this higher level... OK. ..which is going to be
the adults' area, with your pizza oven.
Both designers have taken on board that Luciano's a dab hand
with the pizza dough and wants an entertainment space.
But Charlie is about to go one better and has included
some Mediterranean planting as a nod to Luciano's heritage.
To get the Italian, sort of, feel to it, I have gone for
cypress trees - Italian cypress trees - that spiral round, following
the arc of the lawn round, up to this patio area.
Oh, that's lovely.
Not to be outdone, the boys have also chosen plants that will remind
Luciano of home - and will stand up to the rigour of two young boys.
We want to give you large drifts of lavender and this is, kind of,
going to give you this lovely, kind of, floral display in the summer,
but will give you nice, robust, kind of beds, so that Rocco and Bruno
can kick footballs in them and they are not going to mess up,
you know, all those beds. We have also got this avenue of olive trees
here, as well, so it's a really nice extended avenue that leads your eye
down the garden. Oh, I like that.
The designers seem to be neck-and-neck, at this stage.
But how will their gardens appeal to Bruno and Rocco?
This area down the bottom of the garden is going to be their area.
The entrance way is a tunnel, that they will have to crawl through.
That sounds amazing. I think I will play with it.
The back here is going to be the child-friendly area.
We want to make it fun, so you enter through this willow tunnel
and it would be living, so it would be something which could change.
You could trim it or add to it. This would lead to a softer lawn area,
where you could have a little willow hut.
Great minds think alike and, incredibly, the designers
have had very similar ideas. But Charlie hasn't finished yet.
She has added a water feature.
I've got very shallow trays of water that drop from one level
to the next and then disappear into a reservoir.
So, the children will be able to put their hands under the running water,
but it is so shallow that it won't be a hazard to them.
That sounds amazing. That sounds perfect. They would love that.
I will leave you to think on it. Thank you. Thank you.
A smart move from Charlie, but will it help her win? Time's up.
Cheers, guys. Thank you. Thank you so much.
It is now all down to Lorna and Luciano to decide.
Will they plump for the Rich brothers' design, with the avenue
of olive trees, drifts of fragrant lavender and living willow huts?
Or will they choose Charlie's cypress trees,
sweeping lawn and water feature?
It's decision time.
Right, it's been made. Tough this. It's not been easy, at all.
But the design we have gone with is...
..Charlie's! Whee! That water feature! Ha-ha!
I'm sure it wasn't JUST the water feature!
Why did you end up with mine?
So, you're right - the water feature.
I knew it! But it is not all good news.
I think the only thing we'd say that wasn't, kind of,
in either design, if there's any possibility we could add in,
just that there wasn't quite enough for the kids in this top area.
Something to climb on. A swing. Something like that. Monkey bars,
kind of thing. I've still got some money left in the budget,
so I will see what we can fit in.
And fit in the space.
I'm just dead excited now, to see it come to life.
So, it's going to be Charlie's design that gets built this time.
But she's going to need the boys' help
to give the couple what they want.
It's early morning in Bolton
and work on Lorna and Luciano's garden starts with gusto.
While Charlie's away finalising some of the finer details of her design,
the landscapers begin clearing the garden.
Have it! In the skip!
And the professional oven installers that Charlie's employed
are making good progress with the pizza oven.
Meanwhile, Lee and Andy set about dismantling the wall
that Charlie wants replaced with a less hazardous slope.
The salvaged stones are going to be used for her bespoke water feature,
which has been specially designed to fit into the existing steps.
Just make sure they don't come round to the back now...
Now Charlie and the boys have arrived, and she's keen to set them
one of the biggest challenges in the new garden.
Going to have a few problems with levels, getting stuff in and out.
And that water feature as well. Yeah. See, that'll be fine,
no-problems water feature.
That's the pivotal point of the garden, isn't it? No!
The pivotal point is going to be
the tunnel into the children's play area.
Nice. So, that is where I want you guys.
That's a dream project for us! Yeah? I feel the pressure a wee bit!
But before the boys can place the tunnel, there is the small issue
of the extra feature Lorna and Luciano asked for.
The children's area in Charlie's garden now has to fit around
a giant climbing frame.
The construction looks good, but we have this to get in.
We need to get that in position, to find out where that's going.
This is the old tunnel tube, is it? Yeah. Nice. It looks quite heavy
and chunky. I know. I think we might need a few more men.
OK, on two... Two!
Higher, higher, higher. Paul, your end's dragging.
That's the one! Don't push me!
I've got it. Right round, right round.
All the way. Go on, man.
So we need to get the swing bit on,
so we can see exactly the lengths... Yeah.
..before we level it all up and get it in position.
But that means following the instructions,
which has never been the boys' strong point.
Well, I'm guessing... It doesn't actually show us. Oh, yeah.
Knowing this could take a while, Charlie has asked Lorna and Luciano
to muck in and build some of the other play equipment.
Meanwhile, the water feature is taking shape.
This is coming together well, guys.
It's coming on nice. It's looking good. This is fab.
We're getting there, aren't we?
It's got a bit of formality, you know, cos the Italians like
their formal gardens. So there is a bit of formality,
but slightly quirky. We have a reservoir down the bottom
and that will hold all the water, that then is recirculated
up to the top and it will just drop down and down and disappear.
So the children, they can put their hands under,
they will be able to splash in the water.
and all the scented plants round here
will be highlighted, because the moisture, the humidity,
actually picks the scent up and makes them smell even better.
Now the feature is in place, Andy and Lee can reshape
the old stone from the wall they demolished
and repoint it around the steel trays.
But it is up on the patio where Luciano's new toy is taking shape.
Charlie has thrown over ?2,000 of the budget at it, so she is keen
to make sure it works.
My, that is a posh pizza oven! It has even got a thermometer. Yep.
So, go on, then, how does it all work?
What you do is, you light your fire here. OK.
So just like with wood? Yeah. Get it all going. Once it is all going,
you then push the wood back, which then gives you the cooking area
for your pizza, in the centre. The smoke comes out of the top, here.
Oh, that is good, then. It is far enough away from the wisteria,
cos I thought it was at the back and it would go up there,
which would be... No, it all just comes out here. At the front. That is much better.
So now she knows the wisteria won't get scorched, Charlie rolls up
her sleeves and attempts to tackle the unruly climber,
while on the other side of the garden...
It's showing me that. It's not telling me what that is...
..or how to put that on. ..there is a lot of head scratching going on.
It doesn't look much different, does it?
I'll go back to my wisteria.
They're not long enough for that. No. Isn't it?
The wisteria has outgrown the trellis
and the trellis has seen better days, so it has to go.
Ideally, Charlie would prune the plant and retrain it,
but now isn't the right time as it is about to flower.
If I cut this now, you will find it will bleed,
which will take the vigour out of the climber itself.
Also, they will lose all their lovely flowers.
It's best to prune wisteria...
..when they are dormant, in the winter, to get the framework,
and then, in the summertime, when you get these long, whippy ones,
you take those back by two-thirds. That increases the number
of flowering spurs you get.
The boys are now finally getting somewhere with Rocco and Bruno's
climbing frame. But it needs more space to be safe,
and currently there's a tree in the way.
Charlie wants to check with
Lorna and Luciano, before the saws come out.
So, that conifer.
Do you mind if we take it out?
Because the climbing frame that you chose is a bit bigger than we were
sort of expecting. It shouldn't be a problem to take it off.
So then, can all go over and then there will be enough space
for the swings to swing properly. That would be all right. Yeah?
OK, boys, you can chop it down! Yes, nice! Right! Don't go back!
Oh! Timber! Look at that!
Whoa. Perfect. Go on, then. Slide her in.
Just! Just! Doesn't look too large, does it?
Now the boys are cracking on with the play area, Charlie can get back
to constructing a brand-new support for the beautiful wisteria.
So the trellis is out. The ugly trellis.
And now, I am going to put these poles in, like this,
all the way round, on a curve,
to pick up the curve
of the water feature. And also cut them, so that they curve,
so that it sort of ties everything together.
At just ?60 for the stakes to create this feature,
it is a budget option and gives a contemporary feel to the space.
Charlie's design is really taking shape now.
The pizza oven is in,
the lion's share of the work on the water feature is done
and the hazardous wall has been replaced by a much safer
And then we are going to lie down...
But the boys are lagging behind and need to get going on the tunnel.
Lorna and Luciano really wanted that retaining wall removed
and this gave Charlie the opportunity to give them a lovely sweeping lawn.
This will great fun for the kids to run up and down,
but left us with quite a lot of excess soil, turf and stone.
With that, we are going to create this soil tunnel.
What a feature. Oh. A little bigger, I think adults could get through it.
That's the dream! I could probably squeeze in!
As usual, rain is coming down, so it's important to wrap up
and keep warm. Not if you're a man, you don't have to! You watch.
He'll have a jumper on later!
Just for you, I am NOT going to put my jumper on now!
Well, what would a day in a British garden be without a spot of rain?
And it looks like it's here for the afternoon.
So there's nothing for it but for Charlie to box on
with the planting around the water feature.
Put that one there and that one there.
That looks good to me.
Can someone hold this one, while I have a look?
In the design, she has created an elegant curve
that will be dotted with tall, thin cypress trees.
I'm thinking of it like you are walking, you know, in Italy.
You are walking up the hill and you've got the spires of greens.
You get that to the patio.
No plant conjures up images of the Italian landscape better
than the cypress tree and its elegant shape has been
a mainstay of formal Italianate gardens for centuries.
Possibly the most renowned Italianate formal garden in the UK
is at Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire.
The Italianate style of garden
is very strongly represented by its use of symmetry,
so we can literally draw lines across the garden
and see the pattern reflected on either side of this.
Like the trees Charlie has used in Lorna and Luciano's garden,
at Trentham, tall, thin trees are an important element of the design.
It's a very formal layout,
using clipped evergreens to create the structure.
This style isn't limited to large gardens.
Some of the design principles used in Trentham
can be applied to the average back garden.
If you are looking to create this feel in your garden,
but on a much smaller scale,
one of the things I would look to do is to create
a formal structural layout, using light-coloured materials.
And it can be done relatively inexpensively,
using fine-textured gravels.
Look to try and use fine-textured foliages.
The smaller the leaf, the more distant it will appear
and the larger the space will be.
Back in Bolton, the rain may be coming down,
but it is not slowing the Rich brothers.
We've got a bit of sand left over, so we are using it just to kind of
create this nice smooth surface before we add the topsoil on.
Also it helps, cos it knits together
the large clods of soil underneath.
So, altogether, it's going to help with drain and it is a good binder.
Then, with a layer of topsoil added to the tunnel,
the boys can get on with turfing.
Meanwhile, a rather soggy Charlie is working hard to conjure up
that southern European feel.
I've gone for three key Italian - or should I say Mediterranean - plants.
So I've got a bay tree, I've got two of those,
so I'm probably going to put them in containers and sort of split
them from one patio to another.
We've got Italian cypress, which are really highlighting the swirl
of the flower bed and add that tall height to the garden.
And then I've got these wonderful olives.
When planting Mediterranean plants like olives and cypress trees,
it's good to remember that their native climate is drier than ours,
so dig in lots of grit and drainage underneath the plant
when you pop it in the ground.
They don't like to sit in a puddle of water, but then who does?
The boys have moved on to the planting, too.
On their design for Lorna and Luciano's garden,
they included a living willow tunnel in the play area.
Charlie has decided to add something similar, made with hornbeam.
Charlie's design is all about curves
and that's been echoed through the hard landscaping.
But what we want to do is to do this with soft landscaping,
with these hornbeam trees.
And they are very young and easy to manipulate,
which means that we create this lovely archway,
which is going to become this very natural sculpture.
These area like hedging trees, so the more you trim them, the denser they get.
They won't grow into big trees if you keep clipping them. They'll slowly thicken up
and become this really dense tunnel, which is really cool. Yeah.
By tying the young trees together at the top,
the boys are training the plants to grow into an arch shape.
And as the hornbeam grows, the structure will get stronger.
What I'm doing here is I am just trimming off the inside branches,
just to accentuate that kind of tunnel feeling.
But I don't want to do it too much, I want to keep it quite natural
and feeling, you know, that these things have just sprouted out.
To add another sensory element to the children's play area,
Charlie has sourced some tubular bells.
Their deep tones will provide endless delight to Rocco and Bruno,
and the neighbours, no doubt.
I'll hand over the baton. You can...
BELLS CHIME Oh!
It escaped from me! That's nice. Look at that.
Shall we do a duet?
I love them! Ooh! I want some. You just made that look easy.
Have a go.
To further enhance the sights, smells and sounds in this part
of the garden, Charlie is adding sensory planting around the bells.
I have got some...
lovely phlomis. Feel that. I do like phlomis. So soft.
A big yellow one, isn't it, this one? Yeah.
We've got herbs for smell. Yeah, that does smell good. More herbs.
So thyme and mint. Yep.
Beautiful. And then, for bright colours, we've got the calendula.
Ooh. You can eat the flowers.
Serious? The petals. What does it taste of? Nothing. Oh!
But it looks pretty. It's just the idea...
And then, can you see those chives over there? Yep.
Could you bring them over here? Cos I'd like those here as well. Oh!
See? There you go.
That'll teach you to come and talk to me and play with my bells.
Harry is adding plants, too,
but this time with a native British heritage.
These primroses left to seed
will create these lovely surprises around the garden.
In time, they are going to drift over this mound
and, you know, they'll dot about the garden.
And I think that's what's so nice about using wild plants.
With the main features built, the team are on the home straight.
The newly created slope is now being turfed.
Charlie is winding the Wisteria up the new partition,
along with some more scented climbers.
Look at that! A bit of instant gardening.
It looks like it's been there for ever, doesn't it?
And, to make the play area safe for the young boys,
David's adding a thick layer of bark chippings.
As the final pot of herbs is placed next to the pizza oven,
this family garden is complete and ready for its grand unveiling.
In its previous guise, Lorna and Luciano's garden was full of
level changes, trip hazards and sharp edges.
Not exactly a suitable playground for two young children.
Now it's had a ?6,500 makeover.
And Charlie and the team have spent every penny
to try and make this garden work for all the family.
She spent ?1,300 on play equipment
and tubular bells to keep Rocco and Bruno occupied.
The grass tunnel in the play area fits brilliantly
with Charlie's curvaceous design
and was a steal at ?100.
The pizza oven was an indulgence at over ?2,000,
but it's the one thing Luciano wanted.
The plants really give this garden its Italian feel.
Charlie spent a whopping ?1,200 on them, but the impact is huge.
And last but not least, the bespoke water feature adds
a touch of luxury, with a ?900 price tag to match.
But it provides a focal point and a talking point in the garden.
Lorna and Luciano were prepared to spend big
to get the stylish child-friendly garden they wanted.
OK. Don't open them until I say. Rocco, don't cheat.
Oh, here they come. One, two, three.
Open your eyes.
Whoa! E bellissimo!
Yes? Bellissimo, I think it's... Oh, my God! Yeah? Yeah.
Shall we go down? Do you want to go down, then?
Shall we go and have a look?
God, he's gone straight on the mound.
Well, it looks like he's really enjoying himself, anyway. Yeah.
So this is all going to be scented,
so you've got your wisteria that is scented.
We have jasmine and we've got a climbing white rose.
Very romantic, with a really, really sweet scent.
Oh, that's beautiful.
And then you've got your...
olive trees. Olive trees. Wow!
They are amazing, aren't they?
And we've put... Oh, look at the pizza oven!
I think that's going to get great use. It definitely will.
You can see how that area has been transformed now.
The wisteria looks beautiful as well. Gorgeous.
Come and hit the pipes.
LAUGHTER What about the other ones?
What about these ones?
They're making funny sounds, aren't they?
I'm actually really surprised
at how much of a dramatic change has happened today.
I was really pleased when this wall came out,
because it seems to have made this patio so much bigger. I know.
And so much safer. So much safer for the kids.
They can just run up that and that is their bit.
No, it's absolutely amazing.
?6,500 was a serious investment in their outdoor space.
Do Lorna and Luciano think it was money well spent?
Oh, I love the water. I love the water.
The water feature is absolutely stunning. Really, really love that.
I love the olive trees and the...
And the tubular bells. Did you see the kids playing on those?
I think we're going to spend time ourselves there to play with. I know.
DAVID: Obviously, there has been a good budget, but it shows that
if you are on a low budget, simple things like taking away a wall
and sculpting some land, or bringing in a bit of drainage pipe... Yeah!
..lobbing some soil over it,
you can actually make big differences to a garden. Yeah.
I think you're really smug.
I don't think I've seen you this smug for a long time.
Only when you get us to dig a big hole are you that smug!
LORNA: Before, it wasn't a family garden. Now you can really see it's ours.
It's got things in there for the kids and a bit of Italy,
with the olive trees and pizza oven - it definitely says "us".
It's amazing. I'm really, really pleased.
Today, Charlie Dimmock and the Rich brothers are in Bolton, competing for a budget of £6,500 to design a garden for Lorna and Luciano and their two young sons. The garden needs to have lots to entertain the energetic boys but that is not the only requirement - Luciano is from Sicily and would love a garden that reminds him of home, complete with a pizza oven! Along the way, the designers have some great tips for good-looking, natural features that children will love - there is no primary-coloured plastic in sight!