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Subterranean Sanctuary

the willow wandThe Beautiful Borders, sponsored by The Willow Wand, is unique to BBC Gardeners’ World Live, packed with take-home ideas of how to squeeze the most into your garden, be it growing veg in tight spaces, eye-catching planting or clever use of materials.

The 2019 theme “Our Space” challenges designers to be adventurous and creative with a bijou spot, giving it a sense of purpose and bringing wonder and delight to all. With over twenty-five Borders expected this year, the area will be awash with flair, variety and vibrancy, and of course ideas that can be infused into even the smallest area of the garden.

Designed by Alexandra Hollingsworth

For many people living in cities, walking in the front door means descending into the subterranean world of the lower ground floor flat.  Walking down a Victorian terrace, so few of these awkward dank spaces are cared for, let alone used to their full potential as miniature gardens. 

‘Subterranean Sanctuary’ showcases how to bring light to dark places, even in the depths of winter.  Mirrored sides, light coloured trellis and paving, and a large bowl of reflective water all lift the space, as does the planting – with glossy leaves, white flowers and airy habits.  The garden will be excavated, so that the viewer looks down at planting below ground level. 

Whilst ground space may be restricted, upward space is limitless, so the garden will include a large airy tree to provide privacy, and to balance the vertical mass of the walls that would surround this garden. 

The planting and water feature are also designed to attract wildlife, helping the perceived owner to connect with nature, in however small a way, when returning from the bustling city beyond.  The feel of the garden is calm, balanced and mindful – a little green haven to put a smile on your face after a long day at work. 

Hopefully this garden will inspire those with small and forgotten outdoor spaces to re-imagine them as restorative places of joy and comfort, and demonstrate that planting in shade can be light, bright and beautiful.  Nothing in this garden will go to waste after the show, and all materials and plants will be rehoused and reused. 


With thanks to

Marshalls pride themselves as the leading hard landscaping provider for domestic gardens and driveways and are proud to have supplied products to all garden displays at BBC Gardeners’ World Live. Organisers would also like to thank sponsors Rolawn, as the Show Garden designers and contractors are all able to benefit from their Medallion Turf and their safe, consistent, fertile growing media. Plus our partner Hollybush Garden Centre & Nursery will offer exhibitors the opportunity to purchase plants, shrubs, trees and landscape materials from an expert local supplier. 

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