A couple who created Britain's best garden have shared their top tips on how to keep lawns, plants and flowers looking pristine during the sweltering heatwave.
Tony Newton, 72, and wife Marie, 74, have managed to keep their award-winning "Four Season" oasis looking spectacular despite the country basking in extreme heat.
The couple have spent 40 years crafting one of the nation's most celebrated back gardens in the heartlands of the Black Country in Walsall, West Mids.
Now the green-fingered pair have shared their best gardening tips to help keep Britain’s lawns looking healthy amid rising temperatures and looming hosepipe bans.
They advise spreading mulch across the ground to help retain moisture and stop weeds, moving potted plants out of direct sunlight and to water in the coolest part of the day.
The couple also say to avoid digging the ground in summer as much as possible but to let lawns grow as long as possible in hot weather and to use clay soil if possible.
Retired GP Tony said: “We have an advantage that our garden is on clay soil, which is good at retaining moisture.
“We have been here for 40 years and our larger, established plants help to provide shade for smaller, more delicate plants, including more recent planting.
“Many of our plants are drought tolerant and have abundant foliage that helps to keep the sun off the soil.”
Tony and Marie began working on the garden when they moved into the property in 1982 and continued with their hobby after both retiring in 2009
They have crammed more than 3,000 plants and flowers, including 450 azaleas, 120 Japanese maples and 15 blue star junipers into a quarter of an acre.
The pair have welcomed 15,700 people from over 41 countries who flock to their home to see the vibrant plot bursting with colour all year round.
They have also raised more than £52,500 for charity and won several awards, including Alan Titchmarsh's Britain's Best Garden and Gardeners of the Year.
After being unable to open to the public during the pandemic, Tony and Marie will now be hosting visitors for the first time in three years in October.
Tony added: “We didn’t have a master plan; our garden has simply evolved in a series of projects as our family’s needs have changed.
"We are self-taught and have had no formal horticultural training. All the tasks have been undertaken and completed by us.
“Developing the garden has involved hard work, learning new skills, a degree of trial and error and immense pleasure from doing this huge project together.
“We have not copied any other garden and, as far as we are aware, our design and planting style is unique."
Gran-of-four Marie, a former transport planner and nurse, added: "It has been a labour of love for us. I'm very proud, it's become something of an obsession for both of us
"It's our hobby and and we love looking after it. It's our little bit of green space just a stone's throw from a town centre.
"Although we have had no horticultural training, and are totally self taught, we believe we have created something very special."
*Tony and Marie's tips in full:
· Keep the ground well covered by plants and spreading a mulch, such as composted leaves, or pine bark, helps to reduce evaporation and growth of weeds.
· Avoid as much digging the ground in summer as possible since this increases moisture loss and disturbs plant roots as well as damaging the soil structure.
· Trimming perennials and dead heading flowering plants helps them keep their strength and flower for longer.
· Don’t transplant during a drought
· In hot weather, only water where needed e.g. any plants that are nearly wilting, any pots or recent planting where the soil is dry.
· Consider moving some of the potted plants out of direct sun
· Avoid watering soil that is already damp since overwatering can be harmful to some plants.
· If unsure whether a plant needs watering, check the soil with bare fingers to test for dryness and dampness.
· Water in the coolest part of the day, either late evening or early morning. This allows water to reach the plant roots before it evaporates and avoids scorching of delicate foliage.
· Throughout the year, avoid cutting the lawn too low and allow the grass to grow even longer when hot weather is forecast.
· The good news is that although lawns may look dead after prolonged hot weather they quickly recover after rains return, unlike many other more sensitive plants.