Why I like BBC2's 'Your garden made perfect'.
It's Thursday and that means it's the highlight of my lock down week, 'Your garden made perfect' is on tv at 8pm on BBC2 (or iplayer anytime). Although not perfect I think that this is first 'garden design' program which has presented the thought processes (and crucially) the costs of designing a garden in a realistic way.
For those of you that haven't seen the program the premise is that two competing designers are tasked with creating a virtual reality design for real clients with real budgets, with the client choosing one of the designs to turn into actual reality. The four designers chosen have done a brilliant job of communicating their thought processes and ideas and demonstrating clearly how a professionally designed garden can really add value and change how clients interact with their gardens.
Whilst I don't yet design using VR, I do produce 3D visuals and walk throughs to give clients a realistic view of how their new garden will look.
The budgets have been realistic, ranging from £25K - £60K for the episodes shown and although all 3 gardens so far have gone over budget, I think that this is a reflection of what happens in real life. Often materials, labour and plants cost more than a client expects and unexpected issues can be unearthed on site once work begins. Whilst the program does touch on the costs of some items, I think a breakdown of demolition, hard landscaping and plants would be really useful for potential clients. For clients, I think it is vitally important to communicate a realistic budget from the outset and to always allow a little more for unknowns.
I also like the fact that the planting is realistically shown for a newly planted garden. Often clients are surprised that a newly planted garden still has a lot of bare soil or think that as a perennial dies back in the Winter it is dead. I try to explain from the outset that a garden will take 2 - 5 years to fully mature and that Chelsea gardens are not a realistic example of a newly planted garden but it is very rare that you see a 'garden design' tv show which shows this. I do think that 'Your garden made perfect' could do a better job of explaining this. Some of the social media comments that Tom Massey's garden last week prompted clearly shows the lack of understanding or appreciation for the seasonality and changing nature of plants. Here's an example of one of my planting designs newly planted vs 2 year's later.
However it may be that some client's budgets just don't stretch to a professionally designed garden and therefore I also like that the program shows what can be achieved for small budgets, when some of the work is done by the clients themselves.
These plots are generally a bit smaller and cheaper or reclaimed materials are used. I have al ot of queries of this type that come through every year and I offer a Garden Consultation & Report, which gives clients advice in a written report, for what they could do within their budgets.
I would implore anyone looking to redesign their garden this year to watch.