Transforming lives and gardens

On July 30 the Burrell family from Fair Oak in Hampshire set off on holiday, unaware of what they would be returning to. Whilst they were away volunteers from the Hillier Gardening Club took over and transformed their garden.

Hillier chose the Burrell family to receive the makeover after hearing their story. Their son, Seb, is just two years old and since birth has been undergoing treatment for a tumour behind his eye. His parents, Pippa and Daniel, had plans to create a lovely family garden when they first moved to their home five years ago, but juggling work, family life and Sebastian’s treatments has meant that their garden has fallen from the top of the priority list.

The Burrells receive support from Wessex Cancer Trust, Hillier’s charity partner, and the company were keen to help one of the charity’s clients so the Burrells were selected.

Over the 10 days whilst the Burrells were on holiday, an army of volunteers, assisted by Hillier’s gold medal winning Chelsea Flower Show garden designer Sarah Eberle and their landscaper Mark Tomlinson from MJT Landscapes, took over the garden and completely transformed it.

The previously unfinished garden was set across many uneven levels, making it hard for Seb to play outside. These were removed and three new areas created. Walls were replaced with stylish sleepers, and more space was created by widening pathways. The entire garden was even lowered to make a safer place space for Seb, with 70 tonnes of ground being removed!

New decking, a pergola and raised beds were then added and planted with ornamental grasses and bursts of colour. The plants were deliberately chosen to provide easy maintenance to give the family more time to enjoy the garden instead of working on it.

Hillier retail and wholesale director Chris Francis commented: “We are delighted by the success of the project. It was a lot of hard work, particularly considering the scorching temperatures! We were overwhelmed by the support of people – everyone wanted to get involved in transforming the life of this very deserving family and the results are amazing. The garden looks stunning.”

Discussing the garden, Pippa Burrell said: “We’re astonished at the generosity of everyone and how they’ve managed to create such a beautiful, tranquil garden for our family to enjoy. Seb now has somewhere safe to play; we’ve got a space to enjoy our new normal without being in and out of hospital. He’s already had his friends round to play and they loved it!”

The garden was unveiled to the Burrells by ITV’s Love Your Garden presenter David Domoney, who also revealed that the front garden had been transformed too.