The Greenfingers Garden: The Survey
For the People's Garden theme of the Greenfingers.com
stand at Chelsea Flower Show in May we ran a hugely
popular competition with the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Over 22,000 people entered the competition. The first
prize was a garden makeover with a street value of £20,000
and the lucky winner was Tina Mantle of Kidderminster.
Ruth Chivers, who will design the garden makeover with
advice from our Dream Team, writes the first of a series
of monthly articles that will chart the progress of
Several things set Greenfingers' first competition winner
Mrs Tina Mantle apart from the majority of entrants
in our People's Garden survey. Her Kidderminster garden
has no lawn, putting her amongst the 30% of respondents
who don't think a lawn is an essential garden feature.
Tina likes both decking and gravel as hard landscaping
materials. She is keen to replace her existing concrete
slab patio with timber decking, and the Japanese-style
area in her back garden is gravel surfaced. Survey respondents
ranked decking second behind stone or concrete slabs,
37% to 43%. Surprisingly, gravel got a big thumbs down,
despite being widely used in TV garden makeovers. Only
3% of respondents favoured using it on a patio.
Armed with this knowledge about my new client, I set
off to Kidderminster to meet Tina Mantle along with
three of the Greenfingers Dream Team - Stephen Anderton,
George Plumptre and Rosemary Verey. Our job was to survey
the garden, sound out her response to our suggestions
and take a brief from Tina herself.
My garden designs arise out of discussions with clients
and reflect their preferences. I'm a firm believer that
gardens are for people.
It's the first time
I've made a team visit to a client and suggestions for
the new design flowed thick and fast. Stephen set the
ball rolling. Tina's garden is immaculately maintained
- she admits to moonlight gardening sessions - but he
identified the need to create separate areas. This is
possible even in the smallest gardens, and is achieved
by using vertical surfaces - trees, large shrubs, trellis
and pergolas - to divide up the space. It adds a sense
of mystery, keeping areas of the garden hidden, waiting
to be revealed.
Rosemary chipped in with a characteristically pithy
observation that Tina's garden lacked articulation.
A circular route around a garden is a good design ideal,
and being able to take a stroll around your plot adds
to your pleasure.
George saw a golden opportunity to create a private
space enjoying the evening sun at the side of the house.
Developing this into an attractive courtyard would help
link front and back gardens. His suggestion delighted
Tina, who already has plans to make a new door from
the house into this area.
My thoughts included notes that the garden needed something
to pull it together, and that the terraced slope needs
to be minimized. It foreshortens the view into the garden
from the back of the house. Upstairs views are important,
too, and included this on my list of photographs required.
Measuring up, taking levels and photographs are the
nuts and bolts of a garden survey. As designer, my job
is to draw up the results and arrive at a new design
for this section of Tina's garden. Discussing ideas
with both Mr and Mrs Mantle about their preferences,
what they wanted to keep and what could be swept away
in our proposals for their garden makeover completed
Over the following months, I'll be writing about the
design, choice of materials and plants and our progress
in getting it built.
with premission from Greenfingers.com