Alan Gardener is an award-winning garden designer, winning silver at Chelsea this year. But he’s no ordinary gardener. Alan credits his success to what he calls ‘his gift,’ the fact that he has autism.
“Not a lot of people know that mathematical formulas occur in flowers, stamens, petals, leaves,” says Alan, “and from these mathematical sequences you can create patterns to actually construct brilliant gardens.”
Convinced he’s not the only autistic gardening genius out there, Alan’s taking on five autists, who are also keen gardeners, to unlock their horticultural potential and unleash their talents on Britain’s gardens.
There’s Thomas, who’s 19, a talented gardener who struggles to get his words out but craves the order and precision of horticulture; Charles, 29, loves nothing more than nurturing his vegetable patch and dreams of one day living entirely off his land; 30-year-old Philip, who’s the exotic plant expert of the group with over 60 species of cacti in his collection; James, 25, who is largely unable to make eye contact – but who has got an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants and Victoria, 27, whose passion for gardening stems from her love of colour.
In this new series Alan and his team take on four unloved back gardens of fee-paying clients in a bid to transform them into spectacular, magical gardens. And the results are astounding.
In the first episode, the team are in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, where they tackle the overgrown wilderness of Ben and Rebecca’s garden. The plot is overgrown having been neglected for years and, worse, it’s riddled with couch grass. With two young children, the couple are struggling to keep on top of it. What they really want is a family garden they can all enjoy that’s low maintenance and fun. But with a budget of £3,000, will the autistic gardener and his crew have the ability to transform the garden and deliver on budget and on time?
“What makes us autists such great gardeners is what goes on in our weirdly wired minds,” says Alan. “I want to prove that we’re not mad…we just see things in a different way.”
According to Alan: “These gardeners have the potential to be the best horticultural squad ever.”