Alan Titchmarsh shares versatile triangle planting trick

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On today’s episode of ITV’s Love Your Garden, Alan Titchmarsh and the team worked tirelessly to transform the Jordan family garden in Southampton. Together the team gutted out and re-worked the space which was in a “sorry state”, in honour of Shelley, a mother-of-two who had sadly passed away from cancer before being able to fulfil her plans of renovating the garden for the family of four. The garden was transformed into a dynamic space that combined concrete, wood and dramatic foliage, along with a beach-themed corner to mark Shelley’s love for the coast.

While working on the garden, the team of green-fingered experts shared their tips, tricks and creative ideas to help other garden owners transform a tired space into something to be proud of.

The plan was to create a low-maintenance yet consistently colourful space for Shelley’s husband, Antonio, and his two children to enjoy in memory of her.

David Domoney, Frances Tophill and Katie Rushworth all helped Alan to pull off the project, which featured a range of different areas for Antonio and his two children to enjoy.

Alan said: “My aim is to create a garden with year-round interest, which means combining evergreens with flowering shrubs.” He explained that the Portugal Laurel (prunus lusitanica), is the perfect choice as it is “really useful for giving evergreen foliage in the shade”.

To build the low-maintenance display, the Love Your Garden host planted taller shrubs up against the fence to break up the space, along with a range of smaller plants in front, forming a cluster.

While he did note the importance of choosing the right plants for a low-maintenance garden, Alan explained that it is just as crucial to place them carefully to ensure you are “showing them off to best effect”.

One of the gardening expert’s best tips was to use triangles to plan out the placement of plants. He demonstrated this by showing the subtle formation created by the apple tree, Portugal Laurel, and down through the maple and fatsia which were planted near the fence.

Alan said that the “up and then down” shape is more “pleasing to the eye” than a wobbly line of mismatched plants.

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According to the gardening expert, the geometric pattern is a great fit for any garden and often works better than standard linear designs.

He explained that the triangle design “works beautifully” for flower beds, patio and paving – whether laid out on the floor or “up-ended” in the form of trees and shrubs.

To make the garden feel like a part of the house, as Antonio’s late wife had always wished for, the team built a range of sections including a patio, a paved area, a bespoke dining area and an outdoor studio for the teenage children.

The “cutting-edge” design was achieved by positioning each section at an angle rather than parallel to the house. 

Alan described the layout as “on-the-wonk”, adding that the angled shape allowed the “bold triangular beds” to really stand out.

In the garden, Alan and Katie planted a range of classic plants including a myrtle which is known for its delicate green foliage and small white flower buds.

To continue the wispy, evergreen theme, the gardening team added a bed of Stipa tenuissima – also called “ponytails”, at the front of the dining area.

Katie noted that the tall feathered look was perfect for creating a “flow” between the giant patio slabs and the bespoke dining space. 

A larger miscanthus plant was added next to the soft Stipa plants to add “big wands and plumes” to the garden in autumn time.

Katie said: “Grasses are super easy to look after as well. Lots of them stand brilliantly over the winter time and hold lovely form and change rustic colours of orange and gold.”

She added that by spring, they can be cut down to around one inch in height to encourage new growth that appears “really quickly”.

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