Garden transformation show. In Birmingham, the team tackle wildlife-loving Sophie's neglected and boring backyard. She wants a garden full of birds, bees and butterflies.
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There are few sights more satisfying than a beautiful garden.
But what do you do if your outdoor space isn't quite
so picture perfect and you are short on time?
Well, meet the Instant Gardener.
Danny Clarke is an expert at transforming gardens.
Here's my plan - I'm going to rejuvenate this garden.
Each time, our gardening guru will show you how to create
gorgeous garden makeovers.
That is the art of garden design - delegation.
Each transformation will be packed with brilliant ideas and tips...
It makes it easier to cut through.
..to help you get to grips with your own outdoor space.
It does feel unnatural, but take your time.
'With his magical ideas...'
These flowers will look like they are floating in amongst the grasses.
'..and advice on spending wisely on a budget...'
-That's why Danny makes me bring a list.
Oh, my word. This is amazing.
'..and because he's the Instant Gardener,
'everything you see will happen in just one day.'
Oh, my God.
That looks so much better.
This time, we've come to Birmingham, Britain's second-biggest city
and home to more than one million people.
With impressive new amenities like the Library of Birmingham
springing up, this is a city that's been
regenerating itself in the 21st century.
Today, Danny is going to be attempting a bit of regeneration.
Granted, it is taking place on a slightly more modest scale and it's
happening here in Yardley Wood, in a leafy suburb in South Birmingham.
We are about to meet a family in desperate need of an instant garden revival.
-Hello! You must be Sophie.
-Nice to meet you.
Sophie is a single working mother who's battled to raise three boys,
Casey, aged 23,
and youngest Louis, who is 14.
At weekends, all Sophie's time is taken up caring for her frail
and elderly father, whose health is declining.
Because she dedicates all her time to working and to caring for others,
she's not been able to make any time for herself or her garden.
Once, her garden was a bit of a wildlife haven, with fruit trees
and healthy, flowering shrubs that attracted insects and birds aplenty.
But now the fruit trees are dead and the garden is
devoid of birdsong, something that Sophie really misses.
The once verdant lawn has been trashed by years of football
and bike riding.
The patio is tired, weed-ridden and needs reviving
and the flower beds are shapeless and moribund.
What's more, the garden has become a junkyard full of abandoned items
and piles of wood, tailing off into a tangled jumble at the end.
With all her time taken up with supporting her family,
including her increasingly dependent father,
Sophie hasn't had any time for the garden at all.
If anyone can restore it to the rich wildlife haven of Sophie's dreams,
-This is a great space.
-I mean, it's quite a big garden, isn't it?
-It's a lovely garden, yes.
How do you use it?
At the moment, not very much, but normally we would cook out here.
We'd eat, drink wine. It's very sunny out here.
I can see the football.
-So this has been used as a football pitch over the years?
-It has, yes.
It's worn the grass away many times.
-So you have three sons, the eldest of which is 23.
He's gone to Australia. He's gone backpacking.
-And then the next one is...?
-He's 18. He's off to uni this year.
-And the youngest is...?
He's 14 and he still wants to hold on to the garden
but I think he goes out enough, so...
So this was a space for the boys but going forward, it's hopefully
-going to be a space for you?
You've had a look around, Danny. What's caught your eye?
-I tell you, one of the things I do like is the shed.
-Oh, thank you.
-I like the colour. So you've got good taste.
-I painted that.
Ah, I'm impressed. I do like it.
Now, there's some wood, by the side there, of the shed.
Is that important to you?
It is, yes. I've got two real fires inside the house
and a wood burner out here.
-So you'd like to reclaim your garden?
But what would you like to see out here?
I'd just like some wildlife out here.
-Bees, butterflies, little birds.
-Come on, Dr Dolittle. Can you do that?
-I think so.
I think we can do something anyway.
Danny, we'll leave that with you...
-..and get out of your hair.
-Yeah. And before you go...
..I've got a little list for you, but you can't deviate from this list.
-OK? So, when I say list...
-He gets nervous when I go shopping.
..there's two plants on this list.
-I want you to choose one of these two.
-Right, happy gardening.
-Thank you. And you two stay dry.
-Oh, we will.
Sophie and I set off to do some research,
leaving Danny just ten hours to turn her tired plot
into the healthy wildlife garden it could be.
With the rain closing in and despite feeling under the weather himself,
Dan's got a plan and is determined to see it through.
Right, this is my plan. If you come this way...
One of the things we need to do is to restore this patio area
and de-weed it, and just bring it back to life.
Back to the log store, this log store needs a home.
We need to find something for it, so the intention is perhaps
to build some sort of log store on that side of the shed.
And then this lawn,
which is completely featureless and boring,
we are going to reshape it.
So, I want to use the curve of that patio over there
and run that curve in towards that fence,
around, and right to the top over there.
Now, this garden is saying to me that I should use what we've got.
Now, this gives me the impression that this
should be a wildlife garden.
I think it probably is in its own way, so let's work with it.
Let's not work against it.
Grand plans, as always,
but at least Danny has got his dedicated support team,
handyman AJ and horticulturist Lou, to lend a hand.
To add a bit of extra muscle to the team, Sophie's sons Jack and Louis
are here to help out in giving their fantastic mum a well-earned treat.
-Louis, that's right, isn't it?
Right, we've got... As you can see, the weather is closing in again.
What I'd like you to do for me is to clear this patio area.
So we need to have a clear area here for AJ to work in,
so if you could take all the stuff here?
Very friendly, very friendly.
No! No, don't! Don't!
Down, boy. Naughty boy.
Better DUCK out, Danny, and let Lou and the boys get started.
Meanwhile, I think AJ may have a plan to give Sophie
a much-needed home for her woodpile.
AJ, you're going to do the wood store, is that right?
-We're going to put it over there.
-Shall I show you what we're going to do?
-Yes, please. Thank you.
Right, we've got to clear all of this first.
-Here. We've got, like, a six-foot by three-foot shed here.
But my plan was, is to make it slightly larger here,
-get a roof on it.
-It's going to be a sloping roof?
-Sloping roof there
because, I thought we can kill two birds with one stone here,
put some guttering on the back of it
so we can then get rainwater from both roofs
running along there into a water butt.
-Do a bit of recycling of that water.
-OK. That's a great idea.
-Plants love that, don't they?
They love rainwater and it's a great way of recycling.
Sounds like a great idea.
Recycling is at the heart of Danny's plan to regenerate
this wildlife garden.
And making use of what you already have is a great way
to make your budget go further.
While AJ gets started with his woodshed design,
Danny's come up with an ingenious use for
a common piece of garden equipment.
You can actually shape the lawn by eye.
I could do that but I don't trust my eye,
so I'm using what most people have got - a hosepipe.
Just give it a little bit of a tug
and once you are happy with the shape...
..maybe give it a little pull here and there,
and, you know what? I'm happy with that.
This part here is going to be my bed.
So this is where the plants are going to go
and this end here,
up to the shed,
will be a gravel path.
Danny seems more than happy with his grand design
but Lou can see a problem with having such large flowerbeds.
See, I think some people, if they're not used to gardening,
-they're a bit scared of really big beds.
I think we should bring them in a little bit more.
-What do you reckon, six inches or so?
-I think that would work, yeah.
And this is one good reason why we're using the hosepipe -
because we can adjust it.
I mean, Lou has rightly said, it's probably...
the bed is probably a bit too wide.
So I can easily adjust that now before I start cutting the bed out.
Good point, Lou. One problem solved and less work for everyone, too.
-I think that looks just right. It just seems to work.
But it's really time to get a move on, as the weather could
change at any moment.
While Danny and the team get stuck in,
I've planned an interesting morning for Sophie,
who's lost touch with her garden and the wildlife
she used to enjoy watching there.
If you're after a bit more wildlife in your garden,
I think you're going to like this garden we are about to see.
A few things you could maybe adopt.
I've brought her to a local garden that's been purposefully
created to attract the maximum wildlife
and I think it will be full of perfect ideas
and tips about how to do this.
Jump under here and have a look at this garden.
Oh, wow, it's gorgeous.
It's very colourful, isn't it?
-Pinks, yellows, lilacs, purples.
-And different coloured foliage.
There's quite a lot going on. It's all coming in
but it's all as it should be, I think.
Very little lawn.
-Could you see yourself pottering the garden?
-I would love to be in this garden.
I would love this garden, yeah.
-Nice little bird feeder here.
-Yeah, it's gorgeous. It's really nice.
-Would you like something like that?
-I would, yeah.
And he can watch it from his living room window as well as
outside in the garden.
It feels very private, doesn't it? Because everything is quite well-established.
-Which is what you want for your garden, I think.
It's interesting you said this is a nice, small lawn.
-There isn't any room to play football on here.
A nice, small lawn. That sounds really manageable.
That would be a result for you.
What do you think about the pond?
-It looks lovely in this garden.
-It looks lovely in THIS garden!
Interpret that as, "Don't give me a pond."
(You're not getting a pond, I don't think.)
You wouldn't have thought the garden was this big, would you?
I know. It's deceptive, isn't it?
I'm going to put the brolly down to get underneath everything.
-I mean, there is so much going on back here.
Layer after layer.
It's like a second garden.
These are very, very well-stocked borders.
There's so much going on in here and down there,
-it's a sort of woodlandy haven for wildlife, isn't it?
I like his bench there as well.
Yeah, a little place to sit out and reflect underneath the blossom tree.
Well, it's more private up here as well, isn't it?
While we take in the crammed borders and the beauty of this
wonderful wildlife refuge,
across the city, Danny is three hours into his day
and has only just finished marking out his flowerbeds.
He is now busy cutting the lawn edges.
Come on, Danny, time's flying!
What I'm doing is cutting the edge of the lawn
with this half-moon turf edger.
..just be patient with it and just follow the line of the hosepipe,
being careful not to put the half-moon edger through the hosepipe.
That just wouldn't do, would it?
With the new boundaries outlined clearly,
Danny can start the next job -
digging out the turf to create his new flowerbeds.
And he's enlisted Louis and Jack to help him out.
His young proteges need a quick lesson in lawn removal.
Yep, so what we're going to do, Jack, is lift this turf.
Just put your foot on top of the spade...
and just lift it out like that.
So what we've got to do, we've got to go all the way along here.
So it might be an idea
if you start here, with that.
I'll go and get myself another spade
and I'll just start over there and perhaps we can meet in the middle.
Using the correct technique is really important
and saves time and energy in the long run.
Leaving Jack alone to crack on with the heavy work,
Danny pops outside to catch up with AJ,
who is busy building the wood shed.
-How's it going?
-All right. We're getting there.
What stage are we at now?
Upside down here is the roof, which I've battened up and secured.
So once that goes over, I've cut the felt to go on top
and that's going to be nailed on once I finish doing this.
These are the back legs,
but I thought just to make it a little bit pretty,
-instead of just sticking it on top and nailing it in...
-Yeah, I like it.
..I'd cut it in like that so it's nice and smooth.
-A nice, neater finish, isn't it?
-And that is what I call a chock.
A chock off the old block.
-Yes, that's right.
-It's probably where it came from, that saying.
-How's it going in the garden?
-Going well. Yeah, going very well.
-What have you done so far?
That's why it's going well.
-You haven't touched it. You haven't touched it, so it looks brilliant.
-And I'll continue not to touch it.
-Good. Good lad.
Well, you'd better get hands-on soon if you are ever going to get
Sophie's garden to look anything like this one.
After years of tender care,
this garden is not only gorgeously attractive,
it's also alive with tweeting birds and plants that are buzzing with happy insects.
It's the perfect inspiration for Sophie
so we're keen to find out more from the person who created it,
-Mike, what a stunning garden.
When you set out designing this, what were you hoping to achieve?
I mean, I think we were sort of looking to try
and provide something that was good for the wildlife.
I mean, Harborne's a very rural sort of area
so we are lucky that we've got built-in wildlife.
But I do enjoy newts, tadpoles and the birds, of course.
It looks very relaxed but I suspect that takes quite a bit of work?
Yes. I mean, people always ask this when we have our open garden
and ask me how long each week I spend in the garden.
I say, "Well it varies."
What I tend to do more is to have specific areas each year
that I reinvigorate.
Sophie, how keen are you to spend much time in the garden?
Do you want somewhere...?
I'd like to if it is achievable,
but time is an issue here.
How much time do you spend here each week?
Well, as I say, it varies.
I mean, with all the other volunteering jobs I do,
I'm lucky if I can sort of... probably not even a day a week.
What works particularly well for wildlife?
Try and get something flowering for as long a season as possible.
So, is that the key, then, to have things
flowering from the start of the year to the end of the year?
Yes, I mean, I think it's like the bird feeder
we've got in the garden as well.
You don't just sort of feed the birds for a few weeks
and then stop doing it.
You've got to provide the food source
all the year round for everything.
Take us through the year. What would you plant to get that?
The early forms of crocus
and pulmonarias I find are very good in the spring.
They do come into flower very early
and they'll provide good food sources
for the early insects that come out.
You get bumblebees.
And then, as you get into high summer,
there are so many things flowering that they're really spoilt for choice.
Into the autumn, buddleia, of course, which is very good.
Obviously, during the winter,
there's not that many insects around so you don't need to worry too much.
I notice you've got some quite woody areas down there
and some bits of rotting bark and things like that.
-Is that intentional for the wildlife?
You need areas... Obviously it's good for insects -
what we call habitat piles.
So as well as thinking about things that are going to flower all year round
and thinking about how you can provide a home and food all year round,
is it fair to say, if you want a wildlife garden,
don't be too tidy and be relaxed?
Oh, yes, definitely. As I say, it suits me.
It suits my style of gardening as well.
People call it cottage garden styling.
You know, you can let things go a bit messy around the edges
-and you can tell people you are doing it on purpose.
-But also for you.
-But if you haven't got that much time...
A low-maintenance, relaxed garden or a garden you can be a bit standoffish with...
-Yeah, and you're doing it for the wildlife.
To attract more wildlife into your garden, here are a few golden rules.
Think about year-round wildlife attraction
and choose plants that flower at different times of the year,
and that produce berries and seeds that will feed birds through winter.
Because there are far fewer wild flowers in the landscape
than there used to be, many of our bee species
are struggling to survive
so plant bee-friendly plants in your garden
to help provide the nectar they depend on.
Don't be too tidy.
Insects and small mammals prefer the more unkempt corners
that can provide nest sites and overwintering opportunities.
Remember not to toss piles of garden debris onto the bonfire
without checking first for those hibernating residents.
Better still, don't burn them at all.
Keep an eye out for the National Gardens Scheme,
which lists hundreds of private gardens,
many designed to harbour wildlife
and which are sometimes open to the public.
Back at Sophie's own garden, the team have been busy clearing
and digging out the borders,
but Danny has uncovered an existing wildlife treasure.
Here's a cotoneaster.
Now, they are very, very common.
You've probably got one in your garden,
but it's very useful in a wildlife garden.
This one's just about to flower
but the reason that I'm not going to touch this is
because when it flowers, the bees are going to love it.
And not only that,
once it flowers, it will then produce a berry and the birds will love it.
So I'm going to leave this very well alone.
The cotoneaster isn't the only wildlife bonus.
I mean, look at this rose here, for example.
The bees are going to love it because it's a single rose
and that means the bees can get in there
and take their nectar very easily.
That rose over there, which has a double flower,
bees can't really get in there to get the nectar
so this rose is probably better for a garden of this type.
A bit thorny. Thorny as well.
And it's got a kick like a mule.
Now, I said that this garden was wildlife friendly.
Look at this creature here, a frog.
Now, I'd love to pick him up but I don't think it's a good idea
cos I believe there is something in our skin that is an irritant to them.
So if you ever see a frog, just leave him well alone.
But that is an encouraging sign.
And for our next trick...
Have you got that?
Pardon? Say it again.
Circus acts are all very well, but it's a magic trick we need now
if that wildlife is ever going to get its new sanctuary.
Come on, Mr Clarke, get a move on. Sophie's boys are hard at it.
-Hard work this, isn't it?
The lads are doing well.
I thought he was going for a coffee break.
It's not allowed on this job.
Not unless you have my permission.
Thank goodness, as there's no time for rests anyway.
We've only got five hours left to the finish line.
But at least someone is making progress.
AJ has managed to complete the framework for the woodshed.
It's looking good. It looks like a perfect fit.
-Measure twice, cut once.
-That's your mantra.
And a sensible mantra it is, too.
Unfortunately, we've got this bit of log
and...thing that's kind of in the way.
Yeah, I'm just wondering if we'll be able to get this out.
He's such a bloke, isn't he?
Just look at him.
I didn't think you'd get that out that easily.
-You don't know the power of the AJ.
-I do now.
While AJ sorts out the bottom of the woodshed,
I want to delve a little deeper into why Sophie needs our assistance.
-What about the boys, then, have they enjoyed the garden?
They've been in the garden quite regularly, playing football,
smashing windows in sheds and...
breaking pots and, yeah,
general boyish behaviour.
So they've enjoyed it.
They've enjoyed it big time.
-But they are now 23, 18...
So my eldest one, Casey, has gone to Australia.
-My middle one, Jack, is about to go to uni.
-How do you feel about that?
It's a new phase in your life.
It's quite sad when they are moving on but,
you know, it's life, isn't it?
Your children leave.
Oh, that's a classic mum face, isn't it?
Inside you are crying, but you don't want to say anything other than
-I'm really proud of them.
It'll be, er, it'll all be good.
Talk to me about your dad,
because he comes to stay with you, doesn't he?
I take care of him during the day.
He lives independently but, yeah, I have him at weekends
and take him out for the day or he comes back to mine and we'll eat.
He'll sit in the garden as well. He enjoys the sunshine.
Yeah, just take care of him.
He's recently lost a good companion
so it's been quite hard for him.
We just try and take care of him in his twilight years.
-How old is he?
-And how is he health-wise?
He's quite good for his age, really.
But he's not a very steady on his legs and, you know,
his age is catching up on him.
So you're at work all week, keeping an eye on the boys,
-and at the weekends you've got your dad.
-So you really need do need somewhere that's low-maintenance.
The football is going.
-The lawn, you hope, is going to take on a new lease of life.
What would you like to see from that garden, then?
I'd like to see a wild-looking garden
that doesn't need to be perfect but, you know, manageable.
Very much like Mike's garden.
Manageable in its own sort of state.
How much is this garden makeover a chance for you
to get a bit of a space for you and something for you,
to reclaim something for yourself?
It's excellent, because I don't know where to start
and, obviously, Dan's going to put me in the right direction.
I can build from that.
And see it as a bit of a positive.
-The boys have gone, you've got your garden.
Keep telling yourself that, Sophie.
Right, if we don't get to this garden centre
-and we don't get the plants, Danny won't be happy.
Not that missing plants seems to be an issue back at Sophie's,
as the team seem to be taking it easy.
# Yankee doodle, doodle, doodle, called it apple strudel. #
Instead of planting, Lou and Danny are spending precious time
deliberating over the quality of the soil.
This soil looks lovely, Lou.
-Actually, it's really good.
-I know you're relieved.
-I'll just show you, look.
-It's just really nice and crumbly.
-Yeah, that's lovely, isn't it?
It's got a bit of sand in it. It's not sticking together like clay.
-A bit of everything.
It really means that it's very fertile
-and anything will grow in it, which is what we want.
An absolute bonus.
Ah, black gold, eh, Lou?
It is very important to understand what type of soil you
have in your garden, as this will affect what will do well.
Soil testing kits are available from most garden centres.
But there's no time for that right now,
as the team are behind schedule
and need to get a move on.
Come on, Danny, what's next?
Now, I'm going to plant this lovely fruit tree.
This is a Cox's Orange Pippin. Absolutely wonderful.
I think that Sophie is going to love it. I'm going to plant it just here.
Now, it's going to be a bit of a mission
because it's got quite a big root ball
and I've got to take away quite a bit of the turf,
so I'll just dig out an area like this.
The Cox's Orange Pippin is a variety of apple tree that will
blossom from April to May.
And if you don't like eating apples,
its fruit are perfect for making cider.
Danny has got to get it in the ground
but he's come up against an obstacle.
Of course, one thing I hadn't bargained for
is there is a tree root here
so I'm having to dig away at it
but, you know, I've got a sharp spade.
If I'm patient, I will get through it.
There we are. There's the culprit.
He was barring my way.
I've put this fruit tree in an inch below ground level.
What I've done is I've created a tray here,
which means that when it rains,
the water will collect here, thereby keeping this tree well hydrated.
Creating a water trap like this is a great way of keeping plants
and trees well hydrated.
But the apple tree is just one of the many
wildlife-attracting plants Danny will be planting.
Amongst them is this plume thistle.
As well as red Campion,
a native British wild flower,
which is declining in the wild but is sought out by bees
for its nectar.
Danny also hopes the new cherry and plum trees
will bring birds flocking.
Spot on, Danny.
It looks like your plant choices are working their magic already.
Ah, the buzz of a happy bee!
-Blimey. There's two bees.
-Not even in the ground
-and they find it.
-Yeah, that's brilliant.
So it just goes to prove
that these cirsiums are ideal for a wildlife garden.
While the bees make themselves at home,
AJ has brought in refreshments
in the shape of a water butt.
-Do you want to come over? I've got your beer supply.
-Oh, thank you.
-It's up here.
-Sorry, OUR beer supply.
-Ah, thank you.
Yeah, cos I thought I'd share it with you.
-Hello there, Danny!
-Hello! Hello, hello, hello.
-Long time no see.
Yeah, long time no see.
This is almost like double bubble, isn't it?
Because the rainwater, when it hits here, is going to find the drain
as well as hitting here,
so it's a very efficient way of collecting water.
-You pleased with it?
-Yes, I am, actually.
-If you get to see it snaking down.
-Cascading effect going on.
But it's there under both of them to catch everything as it goes along.
Well, that's great, isn't it? That's a great, efficient way for collecting water.
Harvesting rainwater is a great way to make a garden sustainable
and minimises using hard tap water,
so the plants will be happy.
But maybe it's time to stop admiring your handiwork
and start finishing off this job before Sophie gets back.
We're less than an hour away now,
visiting a local garden centre in Shirley,
where we've come to fulfil Danny's shopping list.
OK, let's see what we've got to get from here.
-A Californian lilac or an Exochorda.
-Do you know what either of those are?
If you come to a garden centre, do you have a plan of attack?
-Do you know what you are coming for or do you do you just...?
I just take what is on offer and what takes my fancy.
Like any other shop, garden centres are designed to draw
your eye to the things they want you to buy.
But don't give in to enticement.
A good rule of thumb is to resist the temptation to impulse buy.
Instead, look for plants that will flower in different seasons
to bring year-round interest to your garden.
Did you see anything in Mike's garden that you think,
"Yes, I definitely want to get one of those"?
There's quite a few things in Mike's garden I'd like
but I didn't catch the names of them.
I think those big rhododendrons look great when there is a mass of them.
Yeah, they did look nice in Mike's garden.
And they must, if it's flowers that butterflies like,
they must attract a lot. As must these. I mean, great colours.
-Do you like azaleas?
-They're gorgeous, yeah.
But what are we looking for?
Danny will like you for sticking to the list. Let's find these.
Rhododendrons are definitely not on the shopping list
since Sophie has already got one at home.
But hers has a problem -
it's a hybrid plant,
a crossbred variety that's begun to revert back to its natural form.
It's in need of an expert hand.
Sophie has got a rhododendron here.
And one of the things I've noticed
is that it's suffering from reversion,
which basically means that this is how man wanted it to be
and this is how nature intended it to be.
We've bred it to have these two colours in it,
but what it wants to do is revert back to how it once was.
What I'm going to do is cut these pieces out.
Cutting off the branch that's reverted back to its original
form will encourage this rhody to remain variegated,
with those multicoloured leaves.
I'll follow this back with my hand.
Be very careful because it's quite easy to make a mistake.
I mean, I've done that before.
If you find...if the saw gets stuck for any reason,
just help yourself by levering the stem back slightly
and it makes it easier to cut through.
And there we are.
One piece of rhododendron
and just put it away.
But that's not all the cutting back done,
as Dan's got a plan to make a wild flower patch.
What I've done is I've got a roughly mown area
and then I've let this area around here grow a bit longer.
Now, the reason I've done that
is so that we can encourage wild flowers.
Now, wild flowers mean pollination
and pollination means that it's going to attract bees
and also it gives cover for wildlife.
They absolutely love it.
Danny has decided to re-use this old tree stump as a natural plant pot
and Lou has found a forgotten pot-bound honeysuckle to recycle -
more nectar for the bees and berries for the birds later on.
This is a stump, which we've left in the ground,
and what's great about this is it's going to attract bugs.
As it deteriorates, more and more bugs will come into this area.
Now, here's a happy accident.
This is shaped like a pot
and we've decided to put a honeysuckle in there.
And I thought it would be great idea to plant it in this stump
and then, in time, it will romp away across the ground
and then it will find this cherry that's just behind me,
which is going in here.
It will find it and climb all over it
and, in time, it will look absolutely fantastic.
It's great to recycle what you already have,
but when choosing new plants for a wildlife garden
it's important to select ones that will attract birds and insects.
Back at the garden centre,
there are two specific plants which should do the trick on Danny's list.
But we've got to choose just one of those and we're in need of help.
So we've enlisted garden centre manager Andrew Rawson.
Andrew, what would you recommend for a garden that is welcoming wildlife?
-You'd like to see more wildlife wouldn't you?
-I would, yes.
We've got the edgeworthia here, which is absolutely beautiful.
It's very early flowering, in January,
with a beautiful sweet scent.
It's great for those early insects after pollen
and nectar very early in the spring, so absolutely beautiful
and a must in my view for a lot of gardens, but quite usual.
What colour does it flower?
It flowers, starts off with a tight bud that's yellow
that turns white.
-You don't think of things that will flower in January, do you?
No, you don't.
People tend to think of things that flower in late May and throughout
the summer so, you know, don't forget the whole year, really.
In terms of wildlife, how important do you think it is to get
things flowering from the start of the year?
I think it's absolutely crucial.
If you are attracting wildlife and want to keep wildlife to the garden,
you need plants that are going to flower 12 months of the year.
It's not just the summer.
The beetles and the wildlife are there all year
so you need plants for all year.
Now, we have been specifically asked to look for a Californian lilac
-and an "exordia"?
Exochorda. The Bride.
The exochorda's here. It's quite a nice shrub.
It's often grown as a wall climber
because it's quite untidy as a shrub. Beautiful flowers.
Many years ago, they used to use it for early weddings.
In May, you would cut off the flowers
and use them in wedding bouquets
but it's great. It attracts all the bees and the butterflies.
A nice little bit of scent there as well on a calm day. It's lovely.
It will grow in sun or partial shade,
which makes it useful for most people to put in the garden.
-Does that stay green all year?
-No, it doesn't.
It's a deciduous shrub so it does lose it leaves in the winter time.
That's one of its minus points
but, otherwise, a really handy plant to have in the garden.
So that's the Exochorda.
-This is the Californian lilac.
There's a lot of different varieties available.
A lot of different powdery blue colours there.
Absolutely brilliant as a wall climber, again.
It will grow on trellis work, fences, whatever it may be.
They start flowering usually in May
and go on to the end of June, depending on variety.
They are evergreen, so different from the Exochorda,
so you've got something there in the winter time. Easily trimmed.
Very reliable and, again, very good for butterflies,
bees, all types of insects.
-So they're very little maintenance?
-Yes, very little.
Just a little bit of pruning, really, after flowering and tying in.
Very easy. The soil they like. They like a well-drained soil.
Again, not waterlogged. A bit like the Exochorda, will grow almost anywhere.
In terms of the Californian lilac,
if we are looking for something that attracts wildlife all year round,
is that slightly better or more advantageous because it's got flowers and berries?
Yes, certainly better than the Exochorda because you can hit them in two stages,
so you are giving them some food in the autumn for the winter
and also the nectar and everything in the spring, and on large plants,
very often you find that because they are evergreen,
you get nest builders, so you get your thrushes and your blackbirds all building their nests in there,
which is also an addition to your wildlife, so really good.
-So that could grow big enough for a bird to build a nest in?
Some of the varieties get very tall or very bushy.
-Oh, that's sold.
-An excellent one.
You only need a bird feeder. Thank you for your guidance, Andrew.
I suspect I know what the answer might be,
-but which one do you want to go for?
-The Californian lilac.
Good choice, I think.
-Do you have a trolley or do you want me to carry it for you?
-We have you.
-Is that all right?
-That's fine. No problem.
-Thank you, Andrew.
It's a big plant and should be just the job.
Meanwhile, I hope the team have nearly finished,
as we are heading back to the garden right now.
Back in the Yardley back yard, the team are going full pelt,
tidying up the patio and extending and refreshing the gravel.
Danny, have you got those rake hands of yours?
But there is one very important job that Danny has
left for Sophie's sons, Louis and Jack.
After years of pummelling her lawn,
he thinks it's about time they paid her back.
Louis, Jack, do you want to come this way?
Here you are. Here's a present for you both.
You're probably wondering why I've given you these.
One of the most important things to renovating a lawn
is to allow for drainage to go through
-and you lads, you've been playing football out here for years, haven't you?
So, what you've done, you've compacted the lawn.
The quickest and easiest way to breathe new life
into a compacted lawn is to get air into it to help drainage.
Just put the fork in the ground like this
and just wiggle it around.
You can even lift. I tend to...
lift it slightly like this
and you can be quite brutal with it.
It doesn't matter. Lift it, turn it, shake it around like that.
And there you've got your holes.
You guys used to play football in here quite a bit, didn't you?
Yeah, we used to use the whole garden.
-So you're quite keen footballers?
-Yeah, we're keen.
-Do play for any teams?
-Yeah, I did.
I played football from the age of seven.
What other way do you keep fit?
I tell you what, if you helped your mum out with the garden...
-Yeah, the manual labour.
-..this could be your gym, couldn't it?
Save on the old membership.
-It could be.
-You wouldn't have far to travel.
Just walk out the back door. Here you are.
I see what you've done there, Danny. Very clever.
I hope I can help, too.
I've left Sophie having a cuppa
and brought back the huge Californian lilac.
Fingers crossed Danny has left some space for it.
-Celebrated too soon.
-I tell you what.
I think you need a licence for this.
-Make your own jokes about women drivers.
-No, no, I wouldn't do that.
-Not at all.
-A Californian lilac for you.
And this is obviously the time of year it blooms,
and look at that blue flower.
Sophie loves that and I think she's going to love this because
I can see that you have been very busy.
You've added... None of this was here, was it?
No, none of this was here.
-So what we've done, we've made the bed bigger.
-So, we've made that patio bigger.
'Oops. AJ has had a mishap with an old pot.'
Did you break that?
I just picked it up.
With my strength.
Is that what happened? You don't know your own strength?
-You're just so muscly and manly, AJ.
-I can glue it.
No-one saw it. It's all right.
OK, so while he's breaking pots, literally,
you have been making a bit of a wildlife haven back here.
-You've been quite busy over here as well.
So we've added a log store.
Or AJ has added a log store and I think it looks absolutely fab.
-It all looks fab.
-Bless you. I can tell how hard you've been working.
I'm struggling a bit here with the old voice.
Tired or not, there's no time to lose and it's all hands to
the pump for one final push
to complete Sophie's wildlife wonderland.
It's almost time to reveal the garden to Sophie,
but not without giving her sons Louis and Jack
a pat on the back first.
You two look as if you've put a full day's shift in.
How are you feeling?
-Is manual labour for you going forward then, boys?
-Why did you want to do this for your mum?
-She very much deserves it,
the garden makeover, for all the work she has done over the years.
And all the hard work she has put into the family
and then taking care of all three of us, including Casey,
and even Grandad for the last two years.
So there's just going to be you at home soon, Louis,
-cos Jack is on his way to uni.
Are you going to be staying in every night and every weekend
for the next ten years to hang out with your mum
and make sure she's got loads of company?
I hope not, but she might make me.
Well, you might be exhausted, but I can honestly say
I think it has been worth it because it looks great.
I think she's going to love it.
-So well done, you two.
-Right, well I will go and get her.
Just ten hours ago, this garden was a wildlife-free zone
lacking bird song and the buzz of insects.
The boys had worn out the lawn and the patio had seen better days.
There were piles of wood and junk strewn about the place
and at the end of the garden was an unkempt mess.
But in just one day,
Danny and the team have revived it beyond recognition.
The lawn has been given shape by taking the curve of the patio
and carrying it on through the garden
and the flowerbeds have been enlarged.
AJ's new woodshed now shelters the once haphazardly stacked timber
and his water butt will collect and recycle rainwater from the roof.
Finally, the planting has been wisely chosen to encourage
the wildlife Sophie desires.
An assortment of flowering
and fruiting plants that are sure to prove enticing to animals
will encourage life back into this back yard.
Danny has done his utmost to revitalise this
once neglected plot and give Sophie the wildlife sanctuary
she was hoping for. But will she agree?
At last, the time has come for Sophie to give her feelings on what
the team and her sons have managed to accomplish in a few short hours.
Right, Sophie, step out here...
-...and have a look around.
Oh, my God. Look at that.
The wood store, the water butt.
Oh, my God. Look at the floor.
Have you been busy, boys?
-So if you look up at the back...
-Oh, that looks amazing.
-I think she's happy.
-I think she likes it.
She didn't even stop to talk to us, did she?
She just...straight into the garden, looking around.
-Oh, that looks gorgeous.
-It is a big smile. She's laughing.
I think she's happy.
Oh, you guys have worked so hard.
You said you couldn't do it in a day.
-You've nearly finished them off though, Sophie.
-The three of them are exhausted.
-Oh, have you worked really hard?
Danny has really gone the extra mile
to resuscitate Sophie's worn-out plot
and deliver her a space where she can experience the beauty of nature.
A place to relax in as her children fly the nest
and where she can entertain and care for her elderly father.
So at the back you can see there's quite a few differences.
A bit of a tidy up. The long grass has been left on the left
so that... For wildlife.
A honeysuckle has been planted into the tree stump for wildlife.
Talk us through what's in that bedding in terms of...
-Well, you've got fruit trees in the bed.
-Oh, have I?
-Yeah, so you've got an apple, a plum.
-Do you feel a bit more grown-up?
-Oh, it looks gorgeous.
It looks so nice.
-You've done so much in one day. Thank you.
-That's OK. A pleasure.
The boys were just wondering if we could have a little kickabout,
-just to mark the completion of the garden.
Well, I think we can all agree this is a nice, grown-up space.
You can socialise. You can entertain.
You're going to attract reams and reams of wildlife.
And I've got a water butt as well, I can see.
-Well, the guys look exhausted but you look happy.
-Is it a thumbs up for the garden?
-Give us a hug.
-Congratulations. Well done, Danny.
I think that hug says it all. That is one happy mum, and no wonder.
She's got the perfect garden for the next chapter
in her and her boys' lives.
An unloved garden is brought back to life using clever design and imaginative ideas, all in one day. In Birmingham, the team tackle a wildlife-lover's neglected and boring backyard. Now that her children are leaving the nest, she wants a garden full of birds, bees and butterflies.