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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Britain's best gardening couple spend lockdown tending their oasis

Credit: SWNS STUDIO
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Britain's best gardening couple spend lockdown tending their oasis
Britain's best gardening couple spend lockdown tending their oasis

A couple who created Britain's best garden have outdone themselves with a spring spectacular bursting with colour after spending lockdown tending to their oasis. Retired GP Tony Newton and wife Marie have crammed 3,000 plants and flowers, including 450 azaleas, 120 Japanese maples and 15 blue star junipers into a quarter of an acre.The couple have spent 38 years transforming their modest plot in the industrial heartland of the Black Country into what is now nicknamed the "four seasons garden".Since lockdown, the couple have continued to plant Acers and camellias thanks to online shopping.They have even installed large bird-feeding stations onto the patio which has been playfully designed to look like the face of an owl from above.Dazzling drone pictures show the garden in Walsall, West Mids., exploding with spring colours which the couple say is the most stunning display they have ever known.Gran-of-four Marie, 72, started tending the garden in 1982 while working as a transport planner and a nurse while Tony, 70, joined her after he retired from medicine.She said: "Tony and I usually spend two hours a day in the garden but obviously since the lockdown and the fact we are over 70 means we have even more time to spare."We are sometimes in the garden all day and only come in when it gets dark."We went into lockdown a little bit earlier than most people because Tony was a GP and I had been a nurse and so we could see the writing was on the wall. "We had an open day planned for May 22 and we knew that wasn't going to happen."We thought about things and decided that maybe we could grow vegetables in big pots on the patio. "We've got a balcony which we converted to a sort of temporary greenhouse.

The garden we carry on as normal."One addition was that we put up three bird feeding stations, which we haven't normally had and that's given an immense amount of pleasure. "We've got so many different types of birds coming out."We get everything we need for the garden online.

A lot of plants, vegetable seeds and bird food we got online. "We've not been able to go out and we really miss the grandchildren because they used to love playing here. "We've got fairy houses and the streams they played in.

We used to look after them on a few nights a week but that's all stopped. "It's quite painful to not have them but we keep in contact through Skype or FaceTime. "I always look forward to spring and this year has been especially rewarding.

I have never seen the garden look so beautiful. "I'm very proud, it's become something of an obession for both of us."Spring is my favourite time to see the garden in full bloom.

It gives me an enormous sense of optimism. "Seeing the pictures of the garden from above is very special.

You get a real sense of what we have achieved. "There is always something new to try or a flower to tend to.

It's a hobby which has turned into an obsession.

I think about the garden all the time."The couple have won several awards, including being crowned the winner of Britain's Best Garden.They have also inadvertently created what appears to be a huge image of an owl using the patio and flowerbeds which is only visible from above.Marie added: "We haven't been able to do a complete audit of every flower and tree but there are over 3,000 plants in the garden. "It has been very satisfying to use so many skills, and to have done every task ourselves."All but two of all the plants in our garden have been planted by us."Pictures from the 1980s show just how much work the couple have done to transform their muddy lawn and broken rockery into the oasis it is today.The garden has become so popular it even features in unofficial tourist trails of the Black Country.Retired GP Tony said: "First we made it child friendly for our kids but as the years went on we moved on to planting and growing our own flowers and plants."There has been a lot of trial and error to get the garden way it is now and the last few weeks we've really been able to explore even more ideas."A lot of our plants are now 30 years old or more."The couple usually open their garden up to the public in the summer but this year's event has been postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.Tony added: "We've had over 14,000 people from 48 different countries come and visit our garden over the years but this year we might not be able to open which is a shame."We're already planning what to grow for the next season while enjoying the spring colours on display."

A couple who created Britain's best garden have outdone themselves with a spring spectacular bursting with colour after spending lockdown tending to their oasis.

Retired GP Tony Newton and wife Marie have crammed 3,000 plants and flowers, including 450 azaleas, 120 Japanese maples and 15 blue star junipers into a quarter of an acre.The couple have spent 38 years transforming their modest plot in the industrial heartland of the Black Country into what is now nicknamed the "four seasons garden".Since lockdown, the couple have continued to plant Acers and camellias thanks to online shopping.They have even installed large bird-feeding stations onto the patio which has been playfully designed to look like the face of an owl from above.Dazzling drone pictures show the garden in Walsall, West Mids., exploding with spring colours which the couple say is the most stunning display they have ever known.Gran-of-four Marie, 72, started tending the garden in 1982 while working as a transport planner and a nurse while Tony, 70, joined her after he retired from medicine.She said: "Tony and I usually spend two hours a day in the garden but obviously since the lockdown and the fact we are over 70 means we have even more time to spare."We are sometimes in the garden all day and only come in when it gets dark."We went into lockdown a little bit earlier than most people because Tony was a GP and I had been a nurse and so we could see the writing was on the wall.

"We had an open day planned for May 22 and we knew that wasn't going to happen."We thought about things and decided that maybe we could grow vegetables in big pots on the patio.

"We've got a balcony which we converted to a sort of temporary greenhouse.

The garden we carry on as normal."One addition was that we put up three bird feeding stations, which we haven't normally had and that's given an immense amount of pleasure.

"We've got so many different types of birds coming out."We get everything we need for the garden online.

A lot of plants, vegetable seeds and bird food we got online.

"We've not been able to go out and we really miss the grandchildren because they used to love playing here.

"We've got fairy houses and the streams they played in.

We used to look after them on a few nights a week but that's all stopped.

"It's quite painful to not have them but we keep in contact through Skype or FaceTime.

"I always look forward to spring and this year has been especially rewarding.

I have never seen the garden look so beautiful.

"I'm very proud, it's become something of an obession for both of us."Spring is my favourite time to see the garden in full bloom.

It gives me an enormous sense of optimism.

"Seeing the pictures of the garden from above is very special.

You get a real sense of what we have achieved.

"There is always something new to try or a flower to tend to.

It's a hobby which has turned into an obsession.

I think about the garden all the time."The couple have won several awards, including being crowned the winner of Britain's Best Garden.They have also inadvertently created what appears to be a huge image of an owl using the patio and flowerbeds which is only visible from above.Marie added: "We haven't been able to do a complete audit of every flower and tree but there are over 3,000 plants in the garden.

"It has been very satisfying to use so many skills, and to have done every task ourselves."All but two of all the plants in our garden have been planted by us."Pictures from the 1980s show just how much work the couple have done to transform their muddy lawn and broken rockery into the oasis it is today.The garden has become so popular it even features in unofficial tourist trails of the Black Country.Retired GP Tony said: "First we made it child friendly for our kids but as the years went on we moved on to planting and growing our own flowers and plants."There has been a lot of trial and error to get the garden way it is now and the last few weeks we've really been able to explore even more ideas."A lot of our plants are now 30 years old or more."The couple usually open their garden up to the public in the summer but this year's event has been postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.Tony added: "We've had over 14,000 people from 48 different countries come and visit our garden over the years but this year we might not be able to open which is a shame."We're already planning what to grow for the next season while enjoying the spring colours on display."

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