BBC TV Gardener of the Year 2000


I came second in the competition with my garden titled 'Fish out of Water'.

The garden was created at Harlow Carr, Harrogate, Yorkshire. Most of my life has been spent within walking distance of the sea. As a child, long summer days were spent on the shingle beaches of Sussex.

The seemingly barren shingle was full of plants struggling to maintain a hold on life, coping with the salty gales and scorching hot summer sun.

In my design I have reflected the contours of the shingle beds sculpted by the tide; the driftwood and glass reflect the jetsam washed ashore.


The plants are the most important element.



I have predominantly used plants associated with the seashore or dunes that are able to cope with the conditions of the site.



The sleepers represent a groyne and the Olearia acts as a natural windbreak. The Cornus provides winter colour and together with the purple stems of Salix purpurea contrast with the dark wood of the sleepers.

Other plants like Crambe maritime, Crithmum maritimum, Festucas, Eryngiums and Armeria are all tough hardy plants of the seaside.

The canvas chair actually belonged to a naval officer. The chair inspired me to create the garden for a retired sea captain.

Although far from the sea, the garden keeps alive his memories. The sail provides shelter from the sun and the seaweed allows him to forecast the weather. The open book and telescope give the feeling that he has just been there; but like a maritime garden so far from the sea, he is like a fish out of water.