By Andy Hirst
A Huddersfield couple’s garden is in a televised battle to find the best garden in Britain.
Elizabeth and David Smith have hewn their spectacular garden from a hillside high above Huddersfield and it will now star on the Channel 4 More4 show Garden of the Year.
The programme features radio and TV presenter Zoe Ball, award-winning garden designer Manoj Malde and former young horticulturist of the year Lachlan Rae travelling throughout the UK to discover the country’s most amazing gardens.
Each episode will spotlight four contrasting gardens that represent the best garden design in the area and the north of England programme will feature the hillside garden at Scapegoat Hill.
The programme will be screened on More4 (Freeview channel 18) on Thursday, August 25 at 9pm. The winner will then go through to the national final which will be broadcast on Tuesday, August 30, again at 9pm.
The judges score each garden they visit out of 10 considering its horticultural value, imaginative design and the garden’s overall experience.
The best gardens from each of the five regions plus one wildcard picked by each of the three judges will go head-to-head in the grand final where one of the eight will win the title Garden of the Year.
The programme is described as “a joyful exploration of some of the best and most surprising home gardens in the country.”
Zoe said: “It’s a joy to be able to spend a summer in some of the most wonderful gardens in the country. The level of creativity and flair on show is incredible and it’s inspirational to see how our contenders have made their outdoors spaces into beautiful, relaxing havens. I think this will be a treat for any viewer, whether they are looking for ideas themselves or just enjoy a peek at gorgeous gardens.”
David said: “The judges visited us early in July but gave nothing away. We have no idea how well we’ve scored so will have to watch the programme like everyone else to find out. It would be wonderful if we could get through to the final.
“The programme’s advisers were amazed what we had managed to achieve in this location and it will be christened the Hilltop Garden for the broadcast.”
Elizabeth and David’s garden was featured on BBC2 Gardeners’ World late last year and is regularly opened to the public so people can pay to visit it to raise money for several charities via the National Garden Scheme. Elizabeth and David are both voluntary assistant county organisers for the National Garden Scheme in South and West Yorkshire.
Just 20 years ago the garden was just rough grass and heather moorland at the top of an old stone quarry.
It’s built on a steep slope more than 1,000ft above sea level – and as you look east it’s reputedly the highest spot between Huddersfield and the Ural Mountains 2,250 miles away in central Russia.
The couple moved in 10 years ago, eight years after the previous owners had started work on the garden which is around a third of an acre. Elizabeth and David have taken it to another level – well, several levels actually – as it’s a terraced garden that’s cleverly built into the hillside.
The garden has gravel paths with steps leading to a terraced kitchen and cutting garden. It has a shed, a greenhouse, a gazebo and two small ponds, one featuring fish and the other full of frogs and tadpoles.
Elizabeth is the garden designer and planner who nurtures the seeds and cuttings and looks for colour and foliage combinations. She’s also built box beds and terracing to cope with the steep slope.
David, former director of resources at Kirklees Council, concentrates on the vegetable garden and maintaining the grass slope. In the summer both can be hard at work all day in the garden.
The couple have no idea how many plants are in the garden but David once did an inventory of all the terracotta pots and totted up 800.
Elizabeth said: “I like the garden to look natural rather than disciplined and we want it to sit comfortably in the landscape with a slightly wild feel to match the climate.
“Gardeners’ World described it as ‘immersive’ and while many gardens have small plants at the front with taller ones at the back, we let ours seed into the gravel on the paths so you can get tall plants anywhere. I love walking between plants that are taller than me and being completely surrounded by them. I get upset if I see plants bundled up and restricted.”
When it comes to the kitchen garden the couple grow all kinds of vegetables including brussel sprouts, broccoli, potatoes, runner beans, French beans, pumpkins, courgettes and salad.
The garden was featured on BBC2 Gardeners’ World Winter Special 2021/2022 Episode 2 available on iPlayer. The Scape garden is featured 32 minutes into the programme.
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting.