Ann-Marie Powell designs and builds Countryfile’s 30th anniversary garden

(with the help of a few friends). February 2018, and Ann-Marie receives an offer she cannot refuse from the RHS: to design and build a small garden at Hampton Court, possibly a backyard-type, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the BBC 1’s flagship programme Countryfile. The brief is just her cup of tea: nature, wildlife, preservation and diversity of plants. Although the time restraint (5 months instead of the customary 18), the extremely limited budget and the Counryfile wish list may warrant something stronger than tea!

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To involve the whole nation, the idea of mirroring the diverse landscapes of the British Isles was born, followed by a period of intensive research into native plants relating to Scotland, the Dales, Lakes, Wales, the South and the Coast. It had to include massive boulders, a stream, ponds complete with a mini Giant Causeway, a hill representing the Scottish Highlands, and farming (a field planted with barley, featuring a classic Ferguson T20 tractor). By this time the suggested backyard had grown to 600 square metres.

But there was no damping Ann-Marie’s enthousiasm, and backed by staff and a bunch of extremely knowledgeable, capable and willing friends (including our own member Jill Meech, who spent a day watering the 14000 plants) all components were duly sourced and transported to their corner at Hampton Court in time for the build. 3 weeks of heavy digging and grafting in hot sunshine by an army of intrepid helpers, egged on by Ann-Marie’s example (and generous smiles) ensured that the garden was ready in time for the opening of the Hampton Court Show 2018.

By the end of Ann-Marie’s lively and illuminating Keynote Lecture, we all felt as if we’d had a hand in the creation of the garden ourselves. The garden is long gone, but the photographs (provided by Ann-Marie) show the magnificent result enjoyed by thousands of visitors!

Award-winning garden designer Ann-Marie Powell is involved in the Wildlife Garden and World Food Garden at Wisley scheduled to open in Spring 2020. www.ann-mariepowell.com