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Creating a therapeutic garden for service personnel at BBC Gardeners World Live

At this year’s BBC Gardeners World Live Andy Tudbury of Halcyon days Garden Design has created a unique show garden: ‘Onward & Upward’.
Designed in aid of HighGround, a charity founded to help armed forces service leavers and veterans find work in the countryside, the show garden is a beautiful, tranquil space. The design features a pleasant rill, a tree canopy, paved pathways and a therapeutic hot tub. It will also include a multi-level deck Trex deck that represents the journey former service personnel go one when they begin horticultural therapy.
Horticultural therapy refers to the use of plants to enable people to get therapeutic benefit, helping people to increase their mobility and strength, improve concentration and memory, and teaching them new skills.
Andy Tudbury explained:
“Designing a garden is a little like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: you have the final picture in mind, and the challenge is finding the right pieces to make it a reality.
“My ethos when designing gardens is to create a calm, relaxing space where people can escape their everyday life. That was certainly my aim in creating this garden.”
With this in mind, and with HighGrounds’ approach to horticultural therapy a key design message, Andy created a garden that combined his own ethos with the essential components of the therapeutic method.
Describing the garden itself, Andy commented:
“As visitors enter the show garden, the paved path takes several turns, representing the difficult route former service people may have taken before choosing to access the help the charity can provide.
“Once they have made the journey and arrive at the main building, they arrive at the hot tub utilised for therapeutic treatment, housed in the lower level of the structure. From there, steps – not ramps – must be conquered to begin recovery on the first deck, an important milestone in their journey to recovery and improved mental health.
“At the top level, there’s a relaxing meadow, where the surrounding tree canopy adds to the tranquil, contemplative mood.”
Trex provides the ideal backdrop to this – Andy selected Trex in Island Mist to tone with the steelwork and grey granite paving elements.
Stylish grey Island Mist decking boards make up the veranda and first-level sundeck, as well as the stairs connecting the two. The fascias are also Island Mist, creating a beautiful yet neutral-toned appearance for the whole structure.
What’s more, ease of use and low maintenance remain key garden design trends, and this garden shows that it’s possible to create an oasis of calm that people can relax in without having to worry about the upkeep. That’s why Andy chose to use Trex decking: unlike timber, it requires no treatment and practically zero maintenance.
The ‘Onward & Upward Garden’ is yet another example of Trex’ versatility – a beautiful garden that blends modern Trex decking with peaceful plant-life and other hard landscaping to create a uniquely therapeutic space.
For more information on Trex decking, please visit
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