According to my Diary there were two more days work with the production crew before we did the final filming with Monty Don. I have absolutely no memory of what we did on one of them! Whether it was so ghastly I have blocked the whole thing from my mind or just something of a non-event I’m not sure. Obviously the making of a TV Programme took its toll. Far from being glamorous (not that gardening can be considered that) it is hard work! The filming sessions took over 40 hours for what was to become a 25 minute slot in “Big Dreams, Small Spaces”
The Making of a TV Programme Comes At a Cost
I know that at some point Tim and I were filmed going to a nearby Garden Centre. For some reason they wanted to film us driving there! So Tim and I got into the car with the Producer and the Cameraman. Then we had the surreal experience of trying to drive safely whilst we were both ‘miked’ up and talking to the camera in the car.
Once we had arrived, I was aware that something about my clothing had come adrift. I managed to pull hubby to one side and tell him that I needed to disappear to the Ladies for a moment. Properly attired and fully adjusted (!) I re-appeared in no time. Whereupon the Producer asked “Comfy now?!” I was sooo embarrassed what he had heard me whisper in Tim’s ear! What I had forgotten was that my microphone was still on!
On the way home we stopped at a field gate whilst the Producer climbed a gate post to ‘get a better shot’! Tim and I were filmed leaning over the gate talking about how we met – as you will see in Big Dreams, Small Spaces (Series One)
Another session was on a Saturday morning when the producer came down from London for a couple of hours. He wanted to film me doing a spot of weeding whilst talking to the Camera. The idea was to include a piece in the Big Dreams, Small Spaces about my gardening background. So he asked me questions about my gardening experience and filmed my replies.
I talked quite a bit about my Father as he was really the one person that had inspired my love of gardening. My Dad had died in 1995 so had never seen the gardens at Dovewood at any time. All of a sudden it hit me how much he would have loved to see what we were creating………and I promptly burst into tears. I really miss being able to share my gardening with him.
The Producer was very kind and understanding. He stopped filming. I gathered myself together, and we got going again. However, none of the filming from that morning ever made it into the final programme.
Final Preparations for Monty Don’s Last Visit
We finished the work on the reservoir by building a platform of poles with Log pile on top of it. Tim constructed a bridge over the stream next to it. I shaped the beds nearest to the stone wall of the new workshop. We planted up the areas around the garden not yet done, including a little rocky outcrop of Alpines opposite the Sitting room windows. And then did the final touch to the garden as we spread the gravel on the pathway.
At last, we had made our dream garden and the filming of the TV programme was nearly finished. What would Monty think of it?
June the 25th dawned clear and bright. A sunny day! The TV crew arrived early to get set up. There was the Producer, Assistant Producer, and an assistant as well as a Botanist from Kew (advisor to the programme) They set up a camera on a boom arm, slathered themselves in sun cream and awaited the arrival of Monty. He arrived in good time and managed to get in to our house without taking a sneak-peak into the garden.
Hello Mr Don!
The Producer asked to film us doing a meet and greet. I was surprised by the peck on the cheek I received from the Celebrity Gardener! (This has given rise to some ‘jealousy’ amongst my friends!) But by the sixth ‘take’ it lost its novelty somewhat.
(I think Mr Don may have regretted being so forward, but having proffered a kiss once, could hardly revert to a formal handshake! In the afternoon when the Producer asked us to do the ‘meet and greet’ again. When we asked why, he said he wanted to film it from a different angle. And I’m sure Monty very nearly slipped up when he almost offered his hand to me…….. And presumably then a kiss for hubby?!)
So What Did He Think of Our Garden?
When Monty was actually allowed to look at the garden, he inspected the various elements. He asked about the Bog Garden and I told him what I had done. He didn’t seem at all offended; I think he understood my reasons for changing the planting. And he understood the need to tweak a design so that we could really achieve the effect that we desired.
He loved the Alpine bed “Ooh! I like that!”
A Place to Rest
Monty was intrigued by the cantilevered stone seat in the wall. We sat on it, we chatted about the garden, the planting, its continuing development. After the hectic pace of all the other filming days, this one was so relaxed so we ambled round the garden, stopped and talked. It was as if he was just a friend or relative who had dropped in to see the garden. We celebrated with a glass of wine each, and a piece of Kransekaker – Norwegian Wedding Cake. As our garden was inspired by our Honeymoon destination of Norway, it seemed an appropriate choice.
Monty Don truly was delighted with our Garden. At the end of the TV Programme he makes his final comments to the camera:
…….a very successful garden. Well they’ve come through triumphantly. They’ve made a garden that works for them and is superbly finished and completed………This garden exemplifies the fact; it doesn’t matter how small your back garden might be and how big the dream you might have. If you have got the energy and determination, you CAN make it come true
We had always intended to fix a plaque on the side of the new building overlooking our Norwegian garden. I am sure I had told the TV Production crew of our intention but Tim and I kept the design secret, until the final day of filming. I had hoped to have a suitable stone carved by a Stonemason. However our funds were rapidly running out when I needed to place the order, and so I had to come up with a substitute. Perhaps, one day I will have it carved professionally………
As Monty Don and I sat on the seat below and Tim stood nearby, he quietly asked the meaning behind the plaque we had built into the wall….
And I told him “Tim and I met through our Church, we believe that God brought us together, and just as His Holy Spirit hovers over our lives, He hovers over the garden”
This is the Garden that was inspired by our honeymoon.
To read the complete story about the creation and filming of this Norwegian style garden:-