Prizewinner Tina Mantle’s new garden is complete; Ruth Chivers looks at how the finished design satisfies the requirements – and fulfils the dreams – of its users
It’s just over six months since Tina Mantle won Greenfingers’ first competition. Our team descended on her garden on 22nd June and the process of her £20,000 prize garden makeover began. It’s a lot of money, but a careful eye still had to be kept on the budget. Getting value for money is always important. Agreeing a design with your client is another important factor for any designer. New garden layouts have to work for everyone using them. Tina mentioned her dream of having a hot tub at the outset – she’d been busy collecting brochures. It represented a good proportion of the overall budget, but if it hadn’t been included, I could see it wouldn’t be long before our makeover would be pulled apart to fit one in.
A lot of time went into site preparation, removing old features and preparing new ones. It’s time well spent but you can’t see a lot happening. Awful weather dragged out this building site phase of construction at the Mantles, despite the team working through rain and into twilight hours. Breakthrough came with the arrival of the hot tub, then decking and paving simply flew into position.
The overall design, setting everything on an angle, has proved popular with Tina. It really opens the garden up. She admits it’s something she would never have come up with herself, and it is one of several design ideas that visitors are pleased to take away. Another is the arbour behind the garage, which enlivens a previously ‘dead’ space. Rosemary Verey’s point about lack of circulation has been solved simply by design and adding another set of steps. Keen to have a deck, the finished look of the grooved hardwood planks is another success story with Tina.
Visualizing the end results in the new side courtyard proved a problem for Tina. She had doubts about the raised beds until they were stained, slabs laid on the ground, and plants in position. They really do reduce the impact of the retaining wall and fence behind, and bring plants up to a pleasant pottering height.
And so to the hot tub. If you think one of these would be little used in our climate, think again. Tina and Roy have moonlight garden planning sessions in theirs. Once the media circus created by her prize winning subsided, Tina feels happily at home in her revamped garden, free to do her own thing within the new spaces we’ve made.