BBC Gardeners’ World: Edinburgh man wins garden of the year for jungle-themed space in the heart of the city
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An Edinburgh man has won a garden of the year award by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine this year for his unique jungle-themed garden in the heart of the city.
Stockbridge resident and amateur gardener of 50 years, Clive Johnson-Cooper, was announced as the Judges’ Choice winner for his carefully curated plant species and thoughtful composition in his compact courtyard space.
Celebrity judges including TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh and award-winning garden designer Arit Anderson were wowed by Clive’s sophisticated garden, selecting him as the winner from roughly 1,000 entrants, with judges noting his expertly chosen plants to create an astonishing tapestry of leaves of different sizes, shapes and textures.
Speaking to the Evening News, Clive said: “It’s quite an honour to win knowing you’re up against so many other gardens. I wasn’t expecting to win because I’ve got quite a small courtyard garden and I was up against a variety gardens - some of which are quite large.
“I was quite bold with the planting - it’s a jungle-style garden and although it’s a small space I’ve put very large plans in there. It sounds counter intuitive but a small garden can actually look bigger if you put large plants in there.”
Clive added: “Whereas a lot of gardeners will plant lots of flowers to get impact, mine is primarily large leafed foliage plants which means you have to consider the structure of the plants and the textures, colours and shades of the foliage.”
What makes Clive’s win even more special is the fact that when he moved into his Stockbridge property on Circus Lane in 2005 there was no garden at all. Clive said he had to knock down an ‘ugly’ old lean-to (a small structure that leans against an existing building) to have a view and space for a garden.
Clive, 53, who has been gardening since the age of four, also looks after all the planting and streetscaping on Circus Lane, a street often described as one of Scotland’s prettiest streets that has become an Edinburgh tourist attraction. Clive also volunteers at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh as part of the herbaceous team and it was his colleagues at the Botanics alongside his neighbours that encouraged Clive to enter the competition after seeing his handiwork first-hand.
Clive said: “Because there is a lot of foliage with jungle plants it makes it feel more tranquil. On a summers day it feels as though I’m not even in the city - one of the judges said it was like being transported to a Moroccan court yard - and it does almost feel like that.”
TV presenter, Alan Titchmarsh who was on the judging panel said: “He’s really thought about the scale of the garden and also the texture created by the foliage. He’s brought the garden together very successfully. And I love the cheeky metal signs.”
Fellow judge and garden designer, Arit Anderson, said: “I love the views from both the balcony and bedroom - what a wonderful outlook to wake up to. He’s considered the views from both parts of his house. The fact that he’s managed to create a garden here is great.”
Clive’s garden is now also entered into the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine’s People’s Choice Award, alongside seven other finalists. You can learn more about Clive’s garden and vote for his entry by visiting the Gardeners’ World Magazine website. All votes must be in by 12pm on November 13.