Beautiful gardens can change your life and this week’s edition of Love your Garden 2 from the birthplace of Anglian in Norwich, was no exception.
Ian Costello and his family had recently moved to Norwich following his release from the Light Dragoons Regiment based in Norfolk. Ian had sustained terrible multiple injuries from an incident which included 49 broken bones, fractures and two shattered feet whilst serving in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, after many months of rehabilitation, Ian is unable to continue his duties in the Army and has been released in to civvy street, to start a new life with his family.
Image from ITV – Love your Garden
Ian, his wife Lyndsey and three children have recently moved from the family quarters on Army camp to the Douglas Haig Memorial Homes. The Charitable Trust’s objective is to provide housing assistance for ex-Service people and/or their dependants. The Trust was set up in 1929 as a memorial to Field Marshal Earl Haig in recognition of his work to highlight and solve many problems facing ex-Service people and their families.
Once the family had got over the shock of Alan standing on their doorstep, Ian explained his injuries and difficulty with movement, he would like a garden that was low maintenance. It needed to be somewhere to relax with the family and watch the children play. As a man in the forces and used to discipline, Ian liked things to look tidy, regimented in straight lines, but also wanted a modern Hollywood style and feel.
The current garden was overgrown and with no features. With Ian’s injuries and ongoing recovery it made tackling the garden an impossible task. He just wanted to be able to use the garden and for it to look nice for the family.
Alan and the trusted team of David Domoney, Katie Rushworth, Francis Tophill and David Dodd’s garden crew got to work by stripping and levelling the garden.
The first thing to go into the garden from the initial design was the sub frame for the decking and paths. This would link the house to the garden and give structure to the garden allowing for the other elements to be introduced.
There were a number of options for the type of decking these included; soft wood plank – high maintenance, hard wood plank – expensive and a composite plank that was made from recycled plastic. This would need no maintenance and because of the surface finish, would be non-slip and would be the best one for this garden.
With a play house, Castle climbing frame and a outdoor covered entertaining area to go up, there was a lot of building to do. As an additional surprise, a Jacuzzi was added into the mix to enable the warm waters to help with Ian’s continued rehabilitation.
The garden had been split into areas so that everyone could enjoy their own space and privacy, while relaxing. The art of a good garden was to blend the areas so they flowed. Screening for the area was achieved using tall Conifers and Bamboo plants.
Alan visited a garden in Guilford for additional inspiration for the Hollywood feel. The garden had a contemporary feel with timber and stone flooring, straight lines from raised beds and a water feature, all with hard edges helping to divide up the garden into areas. There was minimal planting around the garden and lots of structural plants in pots, two by two, enhancing the areas and views from the house.
When choosing pots to use in the garden, always think about the style and colour of the pot, whether it will blend in with the scheme or stand out like a sore thumb. The size of the plant you put into the pot must be considered to ensure that it gives a balanced look creating harmony in the garden. Soften hard edges of beds with plants that compliment the colours used.
As with any family there are always things that are wanted by everyone to maintain their interest and pleasure. After visiting a garden at the Old Rectory that was adult and child friendly we saw the inclusion a home built insect hotel, hopscotch path, sand pit and an area where the trampoline had been sunken into the garden. Inspiration was gleaned for a raised kitchen vegetable garden which would add striking colours with the choice of vegetables used in the planting scheme.
The team created raised vegetable beds using railway sleepers and planted the beds in the ‘Potage’ style, giving blocks of colour. Ian’s regimental badge was copied and used as a template for the planting. These beds would give lots of fresh vegetables for the family to eat.
Eventually, after lots of hard work and what appeared to be some dry weather for a change, the team finished planting the garden with a selection of bright flowers which included; Salvia, Stargazer Lilies, Astrinariums and Geum, all added impact to the grey coloured decking and painted fences.
Image from David Domoney
The garden was transformed from the overgrown mess that no-one wanted to be in, to a wonderful sleek area for all the family to enjoy together. Ian and Lyndsey were speechless at the transformation that had happened and were sure that this was the start of their new lives outside the Army.