Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and a panel of greenfingered experts continue to scrutinise some of the country’s most extraordinary gardens. At the end of the series, the garden deemed the best will win one of Britain’s most prestigious horticultural accolades – the National Gardens Scheme Gold Medal Award. This instalment features an impressive formal garden in Shropshire and a three-part garden in Oxfordshire that blends domestic spaces with wild woodland.

From the cosiest example of cottage planting to a wild and wonderful jungle; from a serene urban haven to the finest in fantasy landscaping, this sixpart series examines the very best gardens that Britain has to offer. In each episode, the judges explore two gardens, focusing on their unique identities and explaining how they suit their owners. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen – well known for his extensive work on television – spends a day in each location, getting to the heart of the owner’s story and learning how they created their own personal Eden.

The yards are then handed over to the mercy of the three judges – straight-talking garden writer Anne Wareham, esteemed RHS Chelsea judge and medal winner Mark Gregory, and Laetitia Maklouf, author of ‘The Virgin Gardener’. These respected judges will assess the gardens according to their own horticultural bugbears – whether it be the declining standards in basic gardening knowledge, the lack of boldness in British design, or the failure of gardeners to create spaces that reflect their personalities. Once the judges have examined the entrants and offered their opinions, viewers are given tips on how to create the designs at home.

In a nail-biting conclusion to each programme, the two medal contenders must defend their gardens against the judges’ criticisms and argue their case as to why they are a worthy winner of the NGS Medal, before the final victor is announced.

First to be examined this week is an exquisite formal garden in Shropshire. Owner Lesley first lived in the 16th-century hall which is her current home as a child, but it was sold when her parents divorced. Through a strange series of events, she and her husband ended up buying back the house for themselves 25 years ago, at which time the grounds consisted of little more than a field.

Initially driven by a desire to create a play area for their two sons, they began to fashion a garden – which little by little has developed into a formal landscape of exceptional beauty. Perfect topiary and bold use of colour and shape characterise this very special location – but how will the judges respond to Lesley’s very formal creation?

The second contender this week is an enchanting woodland space in Oxfordshire. This particular garden is very much a team effort. The design is the work of Duncan, a lecturer in horticulture and landscaping, while the daily upkeep of the plot is the job of his wife, Carol.

The garden comprises three distinct areas set within the beech forests of the Chilterns. The first section is a highly domestic space with borders and pathways that reflect the angles of the house. The middle third consists of large clearings with sculptures and hedges creating visual interest, while the last segment dissolves the garden back into the wild woodland beyond with vast drifts of ferns and hellebores. All of this is centred around an updated plantsman’s cottage and a productive vegetable garden.

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