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Gardening queen of the small screen

PUBLISHED: 12:52 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:52 23 August 2019

An initial sketch of the garden Tamara and Katie designed for the Great Gardening Challenge Final. Picture: TAMARA BRIDGE/KATIE SAVILL

An initial sketch of the garden Tamara and Katie designed for the Great Gardening Challenge Final. Picture: TAMARA BRIDGE/KATIE SAVILL

Archant

High-pressure situations can make or break a friendship, but in the case of Tamara Bridge and Kate Savill theirs was forged in one.

A garden that Tamara and Katie designed for the BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens series at Chelsea in 2017. Picture: JMA PHOTOGRAPHYA garden that Tamara and Katie designed for the BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens series at Chelsea in 2017. Picture: JMA PHOTOGRAPHY

First meeting as finalist in the RHS Young Designer of the Year competition in 2015, they were required to work together to design a garden in abnormally stressful circumstances, being forced to quickly rely upon the other in order to complete their garden within the short timeframe.

That experience not only crafted a tight-knit friendship but also a fruitful professional partnership - one that has recently been tested again, this time on Channel 5's Great Gardening Challenge which aired on the television channel over the summer.

The duo ultimately won the programme after designing gardens in Norris Green Park in Liverpool, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and, for the grand final, creating a one-off garden at RHS Garden Wisley in London.

"We had a very quick turn around and a very tight budget," explains Tamara: "Normally you'd have a bit more time to plan out a project but we really had to put our skills to the test to get each garden finished in a week."

The Sunset Garden, designed by Tamara for the RHS Flower Show 2015  in Tatton Park. Picture: LEE BEELThe Sunset Garden, designed by Tamara for the RHS Flower Show 2015 in Tatton Park. Picture: LEE BEEL

The show didn't just highlight the pair's skills to a national audience, it was also a chance for them to learn new things about themselves: "We proved to ourselves that we could achieve a lot and in a short space of time, and really displayed the strength of our partnership even under a lot of pressure," says Tamara.

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Tamara, who has lived in Norfolk for 10 years, has taken much inspiration from the region: "The whole county is full of beautiful private and public gardens - you're never more than a stones throw away from something worth exploring."

When it comes to working on your own garden, Tamara's top piece of advice is quite simple: "Understand the garden you've got, and work around that."

Tamara Bridge (right) and her design partner Kate Savil (left) first met in 2015, as finalist in the RHS Young Designer of the Year competition. Picture: MORITZ SCHMITTAT/CRACKIT PRODUCTIONSTamara Bridge (right) and her design partner Kate Savil (left) first met in 2015, as finalist in the RHS Young Designer of the Year competition. Picture: MORITZ SCHMITTAT/CRACKIT PRODUCTIONS

Every garden is different from soil type to the amount of sun parts of it receive. There's no one-size fits all design for a garden - instead, it's all about best utilising the space and environment you've got to work with.

Failing to get to grips with this is one of the biggest mistakes people make when starting out explains Tamara, that's why it's critical to speak to experts.

"There are some amazing 
local plant nurseries in Norfolk and the people working in them really know their stuff. They 
can help you out a lot in identifying what plants will work best in your garden," says Tamara.

Another one of her top tips is to create two lists when planning your garden, stuff you need (a place to dry clothes, a shed) and stuff you want (a patio area, a garden swing), and then prioritise from there.

Finally, don't be afraid of putting trees in your garden. "They add shade, attract wildlife, add structure and height and can really make a space come alive, just be mindful of power lines and your neighbours," says Tamara.

Of course, perhaps the best piece of advice, is to just get stuck in and get your hands muddy. That garden of your dreams won't build itself, after all.

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