Britain's best gardening couple outdo themselves in lockdown

Retired GP Tony Newton and wife Marie have one of Britain’s best gardens.

The couple has crammed 3,000 plants and flowers, including 450 azaleas, 120 Japanese maples and 15 blue star junipers, into a quarter of an acre.

The couple has spent 38 years transforming their modest plot in the industrial heartland of the Black Country into what is now nicknamed the ‘Four Seasons garden’.

Since lockdown, the couple has continued to plant Acers and camellias thanks to online shopping.

They have even installed large bird-feeding stations onto the patio which has been playfully designed to look like the face of an owl from above.

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Dazzling drone pictures show the garden in Walsall, West Midlands, exploding with spring colours which the couple say is the most stunning display they have ever known.

Gran-of-four Marie, 72, started tending the garden in 1982 while working as a transport planner and a nurse while Tony, 70, joined her after he retired from medicine.

She said: ‘Tony and I usually spend two hours a day in the garden but obviously since the lockdown and the fact we are over 70 means we have even more time to spare.

‘We are sometimes in the garden all day and only come in when it gets dark.

‘We went into lockdown a little bit earlier than most people because Tony was a GP and I had been a nurse and so we could see the writing was on the wall.’

The couple had an open day planned for 22 May but have had to cancel.

At the moment they’re enjoying the backyard bliss which is attracting lots of birds thanks to their feeding stations.

They get everything they need for the garden online as they can’t go to the stores.

The gardening has helped them take their minds off the world outside.

‘We’ve not been able to go out and we really miss the grandchildren because they used to love playing here,’ said Marie.

‘We used to look after them on a few nights a week but that’s all stopped.’

The couple have won several awards, including being crowned the winner of Britain’s Best Garden.

Retired GP Tony said: ‘There has been a lot of trial and error to get the garden way it is now and the last few weeks we’ve really been able to explore even more ideas.

‘A lot of our plants are now 30 years old or more.’

Marie added: ‘I always look forward to spring and this year has been especially rewarding. I have never seen the garden look so beautiful.

‘I’m very proud, it’s become something of an obsession for both of us.

‘Spring is my favourite time to see the garden in full bloom. It gives me an enormous sense of optimism.

‘Seeing the pictures of the garden from above is very special. You get a real sense of what we have achieved.’

The garden has become so popular it even features in unofficial tourist trails of the Black Country.

The couple usually opens their garden up to the public in the summer but this year’s event has been postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.

Tony added: ‘We’ve had over 14,000 people from 48 different countries come and visit our garden over the years but this year we might not be able to open which is a shame.

‘We’re already planning what to grow for the next season while enjoying the spring colours on display.’

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