The Great Garden Challenge ran from April – July 2005 and was held in the Great Walled Garden at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. The program was shown daily on Channel 4 every afternoon.

Teams of two were each given a plot 5 x 5 metres, a budget of £1000 and two and a half days in which to build the garden. 64 teams began and there was to be only one winner. Each day on a live TV show two teams went head to head and were judged by a public vote with the loser leaving.

My philosophy when designing these gardens was not to create ‘concept’ or ‘gimmick’ gardens but real gardens that real people would be able to enjoy. The result is that the following three gardens are templates that can be adapted for any small garden or could possibly be a ‘room’ in part of a larger garden.

My builder team-mate Ian Penny and I were fortunate enough to get through to the semi-finals of the competition by designing and building these three gardens. We were eventually knocked out of the competition by a very talented team who went on to win the competition.

The Time-Out Garden

Stepping through the Rose Arch you find yourself on a circular lawn edged with a buff coloured brick-mowing strip.

The seating area is paved with Sandstone Paving Circle in Silver Blue. The retaining wall around the circle has set into it at random intervals clay pipes to store bottles of wine.

The border behind the wall is planted up with aromatic shrubs and a cast iron table and chairs finish off the scene. Finally to give some welcome shade on a hot summer’s day a Shade Sail covers the garden.

The Classic Garden

Stepping into the garden one finds a paved courtyard bordered by clipped box hedging. Pea shingle fills the gaps between the sandstone paving and fragrant thyme’s are planted throughout. Two Versailles planters filled with box topiary frame the steps.

Three steps take you up to the next level with a decking bridge crossing the pond to the seating area. The borders are planted with lush foliage plants, the colour palette a simple white and green.

Mediterranean Dream

With this garden I tried to create the essence of a holiday in the Mediterranean, steps planted with Thymes lead down to a cobbled courtyard which holds the centrepiece of a Terracotta pot holding an Olive Tree with Lavender circling the base of the pot. Raised beds surround the courtyard while a blue pergola intersects the back of the garden. A water feature completes this tranquil, summer garden.

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