The main bulk of the rebuilding of the garage/workshop had been completed despite the wettest possible two months. Terry our builder (and my Father-in-Law) had made a tremendous effort to keep building. He just kept working to stay on target for the deadline. It was such bad timing but we had agreed it would be done for filming to start at the beginning of March 2014. And so begins The Making of a TV Programme – Part Two
The start of filming a TV Programme – in our Garden
By the time we were to start filming the actual work of gardening here at Dovewood, Tim and I had had the ‘pleasure’ of working with the TV Production Team for 5 months. I had regular telephone calls from the Producer or his Assistant asking whether: the Time-lapse Camera was working or asking how the build was progressing.
Eeek! I can’t tell you how many times that got me scampering up the ladder to check that camera! One day I nearly knocked myself out when I hit my face on the ladder as I went to check on it yet again. They sometimes the TV Producer checked, double-checked, and treble checked, what we were doing and when. Only to then change their plans!
Tim and I were under strict instructions not to change anything without running it passed the team first. However, some work had to be done between film days so that we were ready for the next stage of filming.
Our film gang
It was suggested by the Producer that the first full day of filming should be a day when we gathered our friends to help. I asked my BFF Sue to come. Obviously my father-in-law was already on site so it was only natural that mother-in-law Gill should come too. We asked our long suffering neighbour Roger if he would like to take part (He and his wife Deidre endured the most from the noise, dust and mess of the build. One of the new workshop walls was on the boundary of our two properties).
We also asked Josh (Sue’s son) came to help – as a ‘Thank you’. He had gallantly come to the garden, when I had been panicked by the TV crew. I needed a gazebo put up at very short notice before Monty Don’s first visit as shelter from the forecast rain. Josh had come to the rescue. They decided not use it in the end…..
Lights! Camera! Action!
Tim and I had to wear microphones – I warned everyone about what they said to us, even off camera, as the Crew could hear everything when anyone spoke. Don’t ask me how I know, it’s too embarrassing!
Sue and Gill were put to work painting some new fence panels. I asked Roger to dig out the last few plants along the remaining bit of border by his fence. Joshua and I started lifting turf from the Lawn, or what was left of it. Tim’s Dad finished the final bit of stonework at the top of the wall – the only time the Producer wanted to film him building on site. That was tough after all the effort he had put in and was cut out of the final TV programme.
All fairly normal gardening stuff until a TV Production crew are involved. Surprisingly we managed to get most of the planned work, done.
The last bit of filming for the day was Tim and Terry inserting the pipe into the wall by the reservoir, and up out of the bed to the head of the waterfall. Finally we managed to roll some of the boulders to near-enough their final positions. We used the Stonehenge method of boards and poles to move them. Tim and I (with direction from Sue who was holding the Plan) then used a hose-pipe to mark the line of the water feature. You can see a clip of this work being done if you click on this link
Question and answers
The second big mistake of the project I made was saying that it would take a fortnight to re-landscape the garden! (The first was changing the building schedule to the wettest part of the year) Funny that… you get asked a point blank question, and give a no frills reply, and the Production team hung on to the answer like a dog with a bone!
Yet some of our answers to their questions never seemed to get logged into the relevant brain…(sigh) Umpteen times I told them what the design was, and who was doing what and when. Even the name of one particular plant, and to my everlasting annoyance, it didn’t even get a mention in the finished production!
What I should have said was: “If I had no other commitments, perfect weather, and endless energy, I could do the actual physical work of carving out the ground, landscaping the site and setting up the water feature in a fortnight of working 8-10 hours a day”! But we were still trying to cope with wet weather. We were waiting for the ground to dry enough to be able to dig. Tim had to get back to work. I was working part-time. House work and caring for the Dogs had to be fitted in. Time was running out……
Suddenly the ground was dry enough! So I managed to dig the whole pond area, the Stream and the reservoir in THREE days! All the spoil had to be carted to the back garden and shovelled into Dumpy bags. The bags had be taken by a Lorry with an Hi-ab arm to lift the bags up and out over the fence. I think I moved 3-4 tonnes that week. Incredibly tiring and something I never wanted to ever have to do, ever again! (Oops! I went on to move 28 tonnes of soil, etc when we did the other side of the garden in 2016. Will I never learn? You can read about the creation of The New Garden here)