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  • This year at RHS Tatton the BBC are showcasing the Sunshine Garden in memory of Dianne Oxberry our local weather presenter who sadly died of Ovarian Cancer. Her enthusiasm, no matter what the weather, with our news reports, captured our hearts over the years. Dianne was a huge supporter of Tatton flower show having reported there for over 20 years. It has been a great honour that the RHS & BBC got in touch with me to ask if I'd design their Sunshine Garden for Dianne.

    Creating a show garden is no mean feat. It takes months of planning, preparation and is a real consideration for any garden designer. Usually, your concept starts as a broader ‘idea’ before it is funnelled, refined and condensed into a show garden. However, memorial gardens are different, very different. They require the opposite considerations. You’re starting with a very specific objective and then trying to expand on that to create the story that celebrates rather than simply enshrining the individual. It’s a really tough brief with more focus and scrutiny than usual. I want to bring Dianne’s legacy of optimism, sunshine and enthusiasm to life in the garden. Celebrating her and the future with a subtle respectful nod to the past.

    The Dianne Oxberry Garden Design Brief

    The design concept was to create a bright and welcoming garden. Showcasing an uplifting bright and breezy area. Beckoning people to come and explore it. Mood boards were created with Dianne’s closest colleagues and I started to expand out from that. Its usually at this stage that you’re swamped with ideas and suggestions. Which is great but the hard part is refining them into a cohesive design concept.

    I wanted to also design a garden that not only looks fabulous but is inspiring for new gardeners. A design that wasn’t so over the top that it looked unobtainable. Again, a hard brief to be gorgeous and encouraging at the same time!

    The Dianne Oxberry Garden

    The BBC Sunshine Garden Design

    So without further ado here is my hand-drawn watercolour render of the BBC Sunshine Garden to give you all a taste of what to expect. A bright breezy place to relax or industrious area for a keen gardener to experiment with growing their own whether its rain or shine!

    I’ve split the Dianne Oxberry garden into 3 distinct zones

    • Rest & Retreat
    • Plants for Pollinating Insects
    • Grow Your Own

    Rest & Retreat

    The garden will feature a beautiful contemporary hand made seating arbour. Build by a local carpenter to show how even a small space can have an area to take refuge from a hot summers day or sudden rainfall. This is not just any arbour though, it’s a green roof arbour which will attract insects, slow down the flow of water and provide a cooling effect to the inside of the arbour on really hot days. If you want to see more on what this may look like check out my guide below for a sneak peek!

    Plants for Pollinating Insects

    The planting palette will be made up of Hot Border plants and flowers. Get your sunglasses ready because the yellows, oranges and lava hot reds will be bright enough to cut through the clouds. All of the plants used in the garden will be chosen due to their high pollen levels for insects. Secondly, most are all perfectly manageable for even the beginner gardener. There will be a few unusual specimens as well for the advanced gardener too though.

    There’s a mix of plants for full sun and some shade lovers in a surprising spot in the garden. Though I’ll reveal that at the show! If you’ve not seen my Prairie planting style heres a quick guide to give you a taster.

    We’re hoping to incorporate a fruit tree, again showing what can be grown in a small space. The challenge I have is to find one in fruit, in July. Most Apples are an Autumnal fruit so I’ve got my work cut out. I may need to call a favour in with mother nature.

    Grow Your Own

    Grow your own has seen a massive resurgence in the past 5 years with people up and down the country seeing the benefits from growing your own fruit, veg and flowers. It’s not only great for your mental health but means you can enjoy vegetables from your own back garden rather than imported from around the world.

    The garden will showcase how even the smallest space can have a grow your own zone, in this case showing how growing your own flowers can be achieved in an urban garden.

    This year I’ve been gardening without plastic in the #explodingatomgarden

    Community involvement in the show garden

    One of the best parts of this show garden is community involvement. I’ve been an advocate for community gardening for years, remember the Golden Girls up in Bury for example? For this show garden, local North West schools are growing a variety of Sunflowers for the show. Helping to develop our younger gardeners and involve them in the design with plant propagation.

    Now Sunflowers are not the easiest show garden plant to work with. Ask any designer and they will recoil in horror. It’s enough to require the vapours! Tall, sometimes bendy, scruffy lower down and temperamental. Sunflowers can dominate a planting scheme.

    However, that’s my drama to deal with as a Garden designer. I can guarantee I’ve got some ideas to showcase the Green Fingered Community Gardeners offerings in a fantastic way.

    Sunflowers are not the easiest to design planting layouts with but I’m going to show you how these high impact beauties can look stunning in a garden!

    Dianne Oxberry Garden Roses

    Given Dianne’s love of gardening, there’s been a Rose named in her memory. This specially bred Rose will make its first guest appearance at the show in the garden. Meaning that Dianne’s legacy can live on in other peoples gardens. The details are still hush but it is a beautiful blush pink Rose which will take centre place in the designs planting.

    I’m so excited and honoured to be asked to design this garden given the impact Dianne had at Tatton. There’s been a lot of behind the scenes, planning, meetings and reviews with her closest friends from the BBC to bring the garden to life in Dianne’s memory. There are also a few other nods to Dianne’s meteorological background hidden within the garden!

    If you want to find out more about the BBC Sunshine Garden why not follow me on Youtube where I’ll be releasing behind the scenes vlogs on the garden? You can also TweetFacebook or Instagram me with your questions or thoughts.

    Happy Gardening!

    Gallery Click on a thumbnail to view full size

    Dianne Oxberry Sunshine Garden

    Plants used for "Dianne Oxberry ‘Sunshine Garden’ for BBC North West"

    Dianne Oxberry Garden Herbaceous Plants
    • Achillea Moonshine
    • Achillea Lilac Beauty
    • Achillea Walter Funck
    • Agastache Black Adder
    • Alchemilla mollis
    • Anthemis tinctoria Charme
    • Brunnera macrophylla Alexandra's Great
    • Carex buchanii Red Rooster
    • Dierama pulcherrimum
    • Dryopteris erythrosora
    • Eremurus Ruiter Hybrid Cleopatra
    • Erigeron karv. Profusion
    • Geranium Foundling's Friend
    • Geranium Mavis Simpson
    • Geranium Orkney Cherry
    • Geranium Rozanne
    • Helenium Moerheim Beauty
    • Helenium The Bishop
    • Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus
    • Kniphofia Bees Lemon
    • Luzula nivea
    • Panicum virg. Prairie Sky
    • Penstemon Garnet
    • Phygelius rectus Salmon Leap
    • Rudbeckia Henry Eilers
    • Rudbeckia Cherokee Sunset
    • Stipa Ichu
    • Stipa tenuissima
    • Thymus mixed
    • Thymus serphyllum Pink Chintz
    • Thymus citriodorus Aureus
    • Verbena bonariensis
    • Viburnum tinus
    • Spiraea jap.Goldflame
    • Ligustrum ovalifolium
    Climbing Plants
    • Trachelospermum asiaticum
    • Mespilus germanica

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