Episode 5 Get Up and Grow


Episode 5

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Fabulous flowers, luscious lawns, veggie plots and backyards.

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What does your garden say about you?

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If it's crying out for an overhaul,

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or you simply need help to get started, then we're here to inspire you.

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-We're happy!

-We have got to get started.

-We're having a chat.

-Is that a good shot for you?

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I'm Chris Beardshaw, passionate horticulturalist, landscape architect and mad, keen cyclist.

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I propagated my first seeds when I was four

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and haven't looked back since.

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-HE SNEEZES

-Excuse me!

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Is that broad appreciation?

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And I'm Colin Donaldson, builder, landscape gardener

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and mad, keen biker. For me, it's always been about the property

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and the landscape working together.

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If there's heavy machinery involved, then all the better!

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Are you trying to get a tune out of that?!

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We're on a mission to help six families transform their gardens,

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so let's get up and grow.

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David and Karen Fitzsimons, and son, Ben, live in busy Bangor.

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When we first met the Fitzsimons,

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they had a typical 1970s concrete flag front garden.

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Which we really enjoyed destroying.

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But in fairness,

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we also enjoyed putting a new knot garden back,

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that's much more in keeping with the arts and crafts style of the house.

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It's also full of flowers.

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Guys, something good has happened here.

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Yes, it certainly has. And all come out in bloom.

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It's really brought a bit of life back into the front.

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Yes, I think that's the word, it's alive.

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She's described it as genius, I think, by the way.

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I described it as genius, or you said it was genius?

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I very often refer to my own projects.

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I wait for compliments and they very rarely arrive.

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I think, also, it's worth just highlighting

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the fact that this is a very polite response to

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the challenges of the front garden. And that is, in a way, why it works.

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But I think you can do something entirely different in the back.

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You can do something which is dramatic, which is really bold,

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so if this has got you looked, then I think we can really push the boat out.

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The front garden is busy and noisy,

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but the back has a totally different feel.

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I think one of the interesting things about this space is

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just how a secluded it feels.

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And the difference between the front and the back, the back,

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-it's just, it is quite nice here, I quite like it.

-Yeah.

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-It's tranquil, it's quiet.

-That was one of the things that lead us to buy it.

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Talk to me about the orientation. Where does the sun rise?

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-And where does the sun set?

-The sun rises in the morning, over here.

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And then from about one in the afternoon,

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this starts to heat up, the wall in front of us here.

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The detail that you've gone into shows that you have

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followed the sun around, used the space.

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What about style?

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What do you want this space to look like?

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I think, clean, modern lines.

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Really, that is the style of what we want.

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Minimalistic, but with texture and interest.

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What about flowers? Because all the plants that you have in here,

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they're quite masculine plants.

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-The beer garden, it's a beer garden.

-You're not hankering after your bachelor days, are you?

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Just get the Tiki Ball out, and it would be perfect!

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Clear all that away and what we're left with is the big, open space.

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Clean sheet and start from scratch and work out the best design.

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OK, that's great. I've said too much!

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It may be a courtyard garden,

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but there's plenty of horticultural clutter to clear.

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That's not the most comfortable church pew, I don't think!

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Just how many pots can one small family amass?

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You're going to take somebody's eye out with that.

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See, this is a nice garden. We should aim for something like this, don't you think?

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-A couple of cowboys did that!

-You need a bit of paving in here, David.

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-And then put those pots on top of it?

-Are you sure these have to go?

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Oh, yes. David's courgettes, Carole's vines, it's all going.

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-Now is not a good point to say you liked it where it was.

-Yeah, OK.

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You should have done that first, maybe.

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I'll carry your wedding train. Always the bridesmaid.

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You said it, Chris!

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You don't want to watch me do this. It might take some time.

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That's it, David, show it who's the boss!

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Yes!

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It's much easier to see what we have to play with now that it's all cleared. What are you thinking?

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If we can encourage them to adopt that twist so that you're using that

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diagonal across the courtyard, I think that could be quite exciting.

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The design process here is quite straightforward.

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It's about linking the view from the house with the garage wall.

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Without making a lot of the garage wall.

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And get the eye to turn the corner and maximise

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the space. It's a very tight courtyard, just a few square metres.

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So what did you get?

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I'm getting sort of wild and contemporary and formal and stylish.

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Any paving materials, any furniture,

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has got to be very contemporary and very minimal.

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That would be the way I would go, to just clean up the lines.

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The plant is an explosion of everything on the perimeter.

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So I've chucked a couple of spanners into the works just to see,

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did they really want this simple, minimalist, structured look.

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I think it's got to have a very exotic feel,

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and almost, it's got to have too much foliage in it.

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What we're ending up with is radically different

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to what we were told was required.

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-Bananas.

-Yeah, big waxy, heavy leaves.

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Yeah, I think we have to encourage them

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to use it as a living space.

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I think that is a good idea.

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However, it's a slow process and you just bring people along with you.

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Yes, that's nice.

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And as part of taking them along with us,

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a visit to the garden centre to spark some ideas, good and bad.

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-Hi, there.

-Is this on the shopping list?

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Is that the sort of water feature you were thinking about?

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It's...it is a feature!

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-Wow! Look at this! I feel as if it should rock.

-Yes, it's a bit like a boat.

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I imagine this is what it's like if you were inside a Bushmills whisky barrel.

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Do you like the enclosed foliage feel of a space like this?

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-Are your eyes allowed to drift through?

-Yes. There's bound to be something here.

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It's been interesting to discuss the back garden and our ideas,

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because I think whilst we have a feel for the function

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and what we would like it to do,

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there is a huge amount we have to learn.

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I have no concept of planting

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and what would work and what wouldn't work.

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-Blue pots, these are nice.

-I like the green.

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-Now, this is the definition of twee.

-Look, Colin, a mini-me.

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This is like stepping into Sweden in your back garden.

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It's got a fondue set and everything.

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Yes, but it's bigger than your courtyard.

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Oh, that's really comfortable.

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This is working. Carol and David seem clear on what

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they like and what they don't like.

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-It's a jungle, but there's space.

-And just immediately, you go...

-HE SIGHS

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-So, we wanted to see how you felt about that.

-Yes.

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We had a great day at the Gardening Ireland show.

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It was a good opportunity to look around and see.

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It gave us lots of ideas.

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Back in the garden, time to take out the old raised bed.

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Is the term sledgehammer to crack a nut relevant here?

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What are you doing to my garden? I like those flagstones. Can you put them back up?

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I'll move back.

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-Is this your favourite bit, Colin, the destruction?

-Yes, it is.

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If Colin can knock it down, he will.

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What have you got that's draining out of the kitchen?

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-Washing machine and the sink.

-That is not the washing machine.

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-That's the tumble dryer.

-No. It's the old oil line.

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Yes, that's the old oil line. No dead body. Not yet.

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You trying to tell us something, David?

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Originally, the longest view in the courtyard was that.

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-To that wall.

-Yeah, whereas now...

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Now, the longest view is actually a diagonal, through there.

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Which means that it makes sense to, instead of going with

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the geometry, which is that way, to hit it on the angles.

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It's interesting to look into a space

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where, instead of hitting a dead end, especially a close dead end,

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the eyes are encouraged to venture around.

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You want to go from one space to the other.

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What?! We were happy!

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-We were having a chat!

-This is design talk.

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Is there a skip to fill out there?

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Give me 300 off the corner of that wall.

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That's the 300 between the 200 and the 400.

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Do you want help with this or not?

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This is a sunny part of the garden. I think we need to sit here.

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It immediately shapes the way that you use the garden, to go in diagonals.

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-I just said that.

-I didn't hear him. Just thinking about other things.

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You can say it much more concisely than I do, that's the thing.

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Without waving his arms around as well.

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There's a pencil scribble on a bit of paper on a scale plan.

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That's transferred onto the ground with a spray line.

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And that gives us an opportunity to literally walk the space

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and see whether that paper copy when transferred to reality, actually works.

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-So, if you can cite it through.

-Yeah, it's a lot of pressure.

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-It looks good. I think. You look lovely, Colin.

-Thanks.

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-That's March, now give us April.

-Maybe take the T-shirt off.

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My garden gnome.

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A square, back to that one.

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-What do you think, Carol?

-I think it looks very complicated.

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Do you know what would be worth doing? Just to get David to bring two benches back out

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-and put one in here and put another one over there.

-Just practice?

-Yeah.

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Just practise lifting.

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I like what you've done with the place.

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-This is it.

-Finished?

-Pink wall, breeze blocks, old seats - it looks well.

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Nice and safe, I was going to say I'll take the one on the side.

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You can shout at one another across.

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What will happen is, you'll step out and there will be virtually no step between

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floor level in there and floor level here. All of this is on one level

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and then you step down under the stones surface there.

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Everything here's raised bed with planting away up here.

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Everything behind what we plant is irrelevant.

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And you're enclosed in planting. I'm standing in the middle of a planting bed. That comes to here.

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This line is a raised bed running straight through.

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Herbs planted in here. Planting all the way behind.

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And all the way in here.

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And to break up this, so it doesn't look like a big ballroom, an area of lawn.

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Close mowed, bowling green, quality grass

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that you can sit out on and Ben can play out on in the centre,

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all flushed through with the paving.

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-Fantastic.

-Absolutely.

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It really extends it into another room of the house that you want to come out and walk and sit.

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-I think that's the way you guys like to live.

-Absolutely.

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Sit inside and see what do you think. See if the object of beauty is...

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Such a beautiful object, that is!

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-Just out of interest, which object of beauty are you looking at?

-THEY LAUGH

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You'll cause offence to somebody.

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That lovely chair in the middle!

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It's really good. It just leads your eye straight out and across.

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It really wants you to just go and have a peek and see what else is there. Wonderful.

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-Can we build it?

-Yes. Work away.

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-Very excited.

-Excited.

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Challenging as well to see what we can do with Colin and Chris

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and the ideas they come up with and we can work together to do that.

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We are definitely trying to open their minds up to other variations.

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The other variation is the exact opposite of what they asked for.

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I'm really looking forward to seeing it come together now.

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Let's have a bit of a recap, Chris.

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OK, we started by creating a simple, welcoming front garden

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and then we moved to the back.

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The space here allows us to play with angles design-wise

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to draw the eye around and make the most of the total space.

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It feels a lot bigger.

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Even though it's actually a relatively small space, it's taken a lot to clear it.

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Now it's clear, we've got a design structure.

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Let's let the trusty Declan get on with building it

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and see what Carol and David make of an off-the-wall suggestion for planting style.

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OK, Chris, I've brought you to the tropical ravine

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here in the Botanic, which may seem a bit extreme

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considering we're talking about contemporary gardens in Bangor.

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It's got everything that I believe they should see.

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The ambience, first of all. It's so tranquil.

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It's something that I think we need the guys to experience.

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What do you make of being down here amongst the plants,

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under the canopy with the light filtering through?

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It's lovely, I think it feels very protective, very enclosed, but nicely so.

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But this isn't what you started to describe

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when we sat down and talked about what we might be able to achieve.

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We've done a wee trick and brought you to the exact opposite of what

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you're asking for, just to really give it to good rattle to see.

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You described it being minimal, contemporary and chic.

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I feel as though it's quite private and intimate,

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yet you can still see the sky is still there.

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So there is the light coming through.

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That was an important point, you didn't want to loose the openness.

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There's not a lot of colour of flowers here.

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It's the abundance of green, that very verdant nature

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that creates the sense of enclosure the sense of calm,

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intimacy that you can reach out and you have to push the plants away.

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That's part of the character and the personality

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and I think if we can achieve some of that in your garden, then we're on the right route.

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The purpose of taking them to the ravine was to just

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blow all the cobwebs away and give them something.

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"Wow! We didn't think of anything like this."

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There's no reason you can't grow things like bananas in Bangor, you know?

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Banana plants!? Give me a call.

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I was surprised that they were so open to just how intense it was.

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-Frankly, I couldn't live in a space like that.

-It was the middle of Belfast,

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busy-ness going round it, yet it was tranquil, calm, and that was

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to do with the planting, the colours,

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the...space that was created there, with thinking, "This is just nice."

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You can just go...

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Much better to start off with a brilliant idea and make it workable,

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rather than start with something half-baked and try to make it exciting. It doesn't work.

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-Looks like that worked, Chris.

-So far, so good. Back in the garden,

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Declan's started to put the walls up and the timber framework

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to support the decking.

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Back from the jungle wilderness. We've managed to change

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any idea you had of a formal garden into a crazy, leafy environment.

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But the boys have been busy here.

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You get a sense now of what it will be like to come out on the same level. That's interesting.

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You can see already that that'll be a natural lead in and out of the house.

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And if you cast your mind forwards to when the planting comes in

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and some high tree-planting, pleached trees, which come across

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the top of the garage to break that severe skyline,

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then you start to see the similarity between what you can achieve here

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and what we've just seen. The other benefit in going to see it

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is that Colin and I would have just said,

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"It's big, it's green and it's leafy," a lot.

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And you would have said, "Great!"

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Do you think Declan's noticed I've stopped working?

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No, he's in a trance. We need to get on. There's a surprising amount of work to do for such a small space.

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This is me getting on with it.

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I'll just get my surgeon's gloves on for hands that do dishes

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or build decks or finish raised beds.

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And another one of our new sayings. "Every home should have a Declan."

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Are you trying to come off a board in the house? It's not.

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It's got a line through. We'll have to do a slither cos that looks awful from inside.

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That's fine. I'd rather see a slither there

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because the main focus will be here and you won't be looking at that.

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So we'll just slither that.

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For everyone else's benefit, what is a slither?

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I have no idea. I was just bluffing it.

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I know. I thought it would take a while. It's all in the measurement.

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If anything, that's going in a bit to your left. My left, sorry.

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-Can you move your nose round that way a bit?

-No.

-There you go.

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That's spot-on.

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Where you have a space which has to be quite tactile,

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which is warm to step out on,

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especially if you're bare-foot in the summer,

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then decking or its substitutes can work really well.

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Decking is looking good, but we may have a wee problem.

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-But what space do you leave in them?

-Space there.

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-That's not far-out.

-Perfect.

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-Does that expand?

-It will in the heat.

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Why can Chris not just design something that's straight?

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You won't be whingeing when you see the finished result.

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I know about the finished result, but we have to get there...

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-I just thought you'd like the challenge.

-..sometime this year.

-'You tell him, Dec!'

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-I think it looks too wide.

-That's not going to work.

-Hmm?

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-That's not going to work. That's way, way too wide.

-Oops!

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That's... The stuff has come pre-set.

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That's just a ridiculous expansion joint. You'll lose all sorts of things down there.

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Including your high heels.

0:19:080:19:10

How would we do that?

0:19:100:19:13

-Have you got any high-heeled shoes in there?

-Certainly.

0:19:140:19:17

Do you normally work in high-heeled shoes?

0:19:170:19:20

-Colin's looking for them. We'll have to do a bit of a test here.

-What are you trying to do?

0:19:200:19:24

-See if they'd fall through the hole.

-I'm more thinking what Ben would put through it.

0:19:240:19:28

Well, it's your call.

0:19:280:19:30

I think we scrap the deck today and do the paving because that will be a circus.

0:19:300:19:35

I tell you what. Can we get some biscuits?

0:19:380:19:44

-Wee wooden biscuits?

-Yeah.

-Obviously a technical term.

0:19:440:19:46

Not a nice custard cream?

0:19:460:19:49

-We just need a three-mil expansion gap.

-A beeswing?

-Two beeswings.

0:19:490:19:54

-Double them up.

-Beeswings folded in half.

0:19:540:19:56

How quickly can we make the biscuits?

0:19:560:19:59

Because we can counter-sink on the edge

0:19:590:20:02

and then biscuit all the way through and drill in at 45 degrees.

0:20:020:20:05

-About five minutes.

-Fine, let's do that, then.

0:20:050:20:07

I think it might just work.

0:20:070:20:09

Good thinking, Batman. Biscuits all round.

0:20:090:20:13

Can you tap that in? And then put that in.

0:20:130:20:17

-And those screws through the top?

-But that's a much better solution. We should patent that.

0:20:200:20:25

-One for Dragon's Den.

-Yeah. Do you think?

0:20:250:20:29

-What else were you going to put on Dragon's Den?

-A slither.

-A slither.

0:20:290:20:33

Will it be called a beeswing slither?

0:20:330:20:36

-Can you make me some slithers, then?

-Right away.

0:20:370:20:40

-'While Declan makes some slithers and biscuits...

-Sounds more like a cooking programme! But it's working.

0:20:400:20:45

'Though it's held us up significantly. We need to crack on

0:20:450:20:50

'and get the gravel into those beds for drainage.'

0:20:500:20:52

If we were to get this square... It's not getting done.

0:20:520:20:55

What are the jobs that need doing? I sense a bit of flapping going on.

0:20:550:20:59

-No. Let's see.

-We know who to blame.

0:20:590:21:03

-"Let's see", isn't a team attitude.

-I thought he was being a big girl's blouse

0:21:030:21:08

because of the amount of work until I came today.

0:21:080:21:13

'Big girl's blouse? Our Declan? Really?'

0:21:130:21:15

I believe because I want to believe. It doesn't matter whether it's true or not.

0:21:150:21:19

Girls, give me a shout if you need your brow mopped. There's a bit of sweat appearing.

0:21:220:21:26

If there's thinking to be done, it's over here.

0:21:260:21:28

-'You were the one with the pretty gloves on. Just get on with filling the beds.

-Yes, sir!

0:21:280:21:33

'The raised beds are taking a lot of filling

0:21:330:21:35

'with tons and tons of topsoil over the gravel.'

0:21:350:21:39

Can you get me a Tesco bag or something? Just to throw that into.

0:21:410:21:46

Or any other bag, but like that.

0:21:460:21:48

-Other supermarkets are available.

-Other bags. That's right.

0:21:480:21:52

Come back half an hour later and it's foamed out

0:21:550:21:58

like an overblown washing machine.

0:21:580:22:01

I'm going to take a break and do some dressmaking with Carol.

0:22:010:22:05

Right. We're using your dressmaking skills.

0:22:050:22:08

This will stop any soil running in under the deck,

0:22:080:22:12

which will inevitably end up in the drains.

0:22:120:22:15

'The soil that's going in here will allow the turf to grow in the centre of the deck.'

0:22:150:22:20

We tried to get chintz, but the budget didn't stretch.

0:22:220:22:27

We did say contemporary. Wouldn't be chintzy.

0:22:270:22:30

-Doing a good job there, Colin.

-Thank you very little!

0:22:300:22:34

Time for another recap, Chris.

0:22:370:22:39

After clearing the site, we saw the design potential.

0:22:390:22:41

Then we took Carol and David to the ravine for planting inspiration.

0:22:410:22:46

Then I came up with that brilliant idea about slithers and biscuits for the composite decking.

0:22:460:22:50

Modest as ever. While I did some dressmaking,

0:22:500:22:53

filled beds, filled beds and filled beds.

0:22:530:22:56

Whinge, whinge, whinge.

0:22:560:22:58

Worth it, though. Look at it now. Beds all done and painted.

0:23:030:23:06

Deck finished. Lovely cobbled paving down.

0:23:060:23:09

David even painted the house

0:23:090:23:11

and walls to match my favourite touch, the outside sofas.

0:23:110:23:14

Nice to see it now it's all painted. It makes such a difference.

0:23:170:23:20

It brings the whole space together, having that unity of the paint.

0:23:200:23:24

It just means you get one image instead of lots of little fragments.

0:23:240:23:28

And the decking actually is working very well as well.

0:23:280:23:31

-It proves that we know what we're talking about.

-Somebody does!

-Have you done this before?

0:23:310:23:36

And then you've just got the planting to get in.

0:23:360:23:39

You remember back to the Botanics

0:23:390:23:40

and we were standing in that fernery?

0:23:400:23:42

That's the feel we're after. So we've got the structure

0:23:420:23:46

and the plants will now start to develop

0:23:460:23:48

that real kind of oasis feel about it.

0:23:480:23:50

By the end of today, once the life goes into it, the plants,

0:23:500:23:53

you'll notice a big big change.

0:23:530:23:55

Shall we get on with it? Or shall we stand staring at it?

0:23:550:23:57

-I've got nice pink gardening gloves for you.

-Great. I'll need them.

0:23:570:24:01

..are you going to bring me and where are we going to?

0:24:010:24:05

-School. First day.

-School!

0:24:050:24:07

You've got your school uniform on, that's right.

0:24:070:24:09

So, Chris, while Ben goes off for his first day at school

0:24:100:24:13

on a chilly day, you have us doing a fussy, fiddly job.

0:24:130:24:17

Bet we're still here when Ben gets back.

0:24:170:24:19

One of the great things about using

0:24:210:24:23

limes in this pleached way, this really hardcore trained way,

0:24:230:24:27

is that they're so well behaved, and they provide a green foil.

0:24:270:24:31

One down, nine to go.

0:24:310:24:32

-Daddy, are you nearly finished digging?

-It might be some time.

0:24:320:24:36

Do you want to come and help me?

0:24:380:24:42

-Mummy, that's a bit messy.

-It is a little bit messy.

0:24:420:24:46

So, still here when Ben's back. At least he's back for the dancing.

0:24:480:24:51

-See if you can catch Colin up.

-He's caught me!

-Got him!

0:24:520:24:56

-That's cheating!

-I got him!

0:24:560:24:59

-You know that humid tropical feel that you get in the Botanics?

-Just like today.

0:25:020:25:06

It's exactly like today. Which is why we've got the plants

0:25:060:25:09

which will create that same atmosphere. So, dense planting with a very eclectic mix.

0:25:090:25:13

There's plants here from all over the world. For instance, there's the Musa here,

0:25:130:25:17

which is one from the Japanese Highlands.

0:25:170:25:21

A banana. This goes up and up and up. Great big, long leaves.

0:25:210:25:26

-This is the Bangor banana plant?

-This is a wonderful little plant.

0:25:260:25:29

Right next to that is a plant from New Zealand.

0:25:290:25:32

This New Zealand flax, the Phormiums.

0:25:320:25:35

And then the date palm from the Canaries.

0:25:350:25:37

So all over the world these plants are coming.

0:25:370:25:39

But the basic principle is that they just spill over one another.

0:25:390:25:43

And when you sit on the bench here,

0:25:430:25:45

you feel as if they're wrapping you up and within a couple of seasons,

0:25:450:25:49

you will feel as though you're back in that Temperate House at the Botanics.

0:25:490:25:52

-When do we get our first banana fruit?

-Who knows?

0:25:520:25:56

There's plenty to look at before you get the bananas. You can have the neighbours on

0:25:560:26:00

because just nip to the local supermarket

0:26:000:26:02

and wire a few bananas on and say, "Look, bananas!"

0:26:020:26:05

'Hmm. Bananas in Bangor? Has a nice ring to it, though.

0:26:050:26:09

'Is that a sceptic in the garden?

0:26:090:26:11

'Here's something that'll grow fine. A bit of turf.

0:26:110:26:14

'Wash down the new cobbles. Final touches to the planting.

0:26:140:26:17

'Not good for my fingernails.

0:26:170:26:20

'And then, finally, washing off the walls.'

0:26:200:26:25

Where we're sitting now used to just be concrete.

0:26:320:26:35

When we sat with Colin and Chris at the beginning,

0:26:390:26:42

we couldn't have imagined that this is what we would have ended up with,

0:26:420:26:46

but it very much fits all the needs that we talked about.

0:26:460:26:49

Dave and Carol have really embraced

0:26:530:26:56

what Chris and I have kind of chucked at them.

0:26:560:26:59

Initially, what they were asking for is not what they got.

0:26:590:27:02

But what they got I think is what they really wanted.

0:27:020:27:06

I think it will completely transform the way that they live

0:27:090:27:12

and the way that the family unite

0:27:120:27:14

because they'll be able to share all of that space together.

0:27:140:27:17

All the spaces are welcoming. They're exciting

0:27:230:27:26

and they're vibrant

0:27:260:27:28

because there's life now in the garden.

0:27:280:27:30

And you just want to be in them.

0:27:300:27:33

'This is the very satisfying bit.

0:27:330:27:35

'The garden's beautifully planted - it's lush, it's verdant -

0:27:360:27:40

'but the space is chic and contemporary.

0:27:400:27:44

And yet, at night time, when you've got the outside light on,

0:27:440:27:47

it just seems part of that cosiness.

0:27:470:27:50

Even in this weather, such colour and brightness at night.

0:27:540:27:58

-You want go out there even though it is raining.

-You do! Yeah.

0:27:580:28:03

That old, grey space outside has now become

0:28:050:28:11

a place to grow up in as a house and as a family. It's fantastic.

0:28:110:28:16

And when you go back to work, in one word,

0:28:160:28:19

how do you describe how you feel about the garden now?

0:28:190:28:24

-One word?

-One word from me is hard. "Beyond wildest dreams".

0:28:240:28:28

Is that three words? That's a phrase. One phrase. Is that OK?

0:28:280:28:32

-We'll give you a phrase.

-Beyond wildest dreams. Never imagined.

0:28:320:28:36

-They're not bad at what they do.

-It turns out they know what they're talking about, yes.

0:28:360:28:40

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:510:28:54

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:540:28:58

Landscape architect Chris Beardshaw and property developer Colin Donaldson inspire six families across Northern Ireland to 'Get Up and Grow'. In today's programme, Chris and Colin take a small, uninspiring, cluttered backyard and make it into an outdoor extension to be proud of, and with clever use of perspective that makes it feel much bigger they create a garden sitting room and dining area surrounded by jungle planting for the Fitzsimons family in Bangor.


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