By William Lailey
A green-fingered couple who have spent 30 years and almost £30,000 turning their back garden into a visitor attraction were forced to pump rainwater away from their prize-winning displays and pack the garden with sandbags.
Anne and Brian Bailey have had to lug weighty sandbags and extract excess rainwater from areas of their beautiful garden in Wolverhampton, West Mids.
Luckily, the showers haven’t completely devastated the space, which has cost them around £27,000 to construct.
They have spent over 3 decades transforming their back yard and separated the 120-foot-long plot into several different sections.
Anne, 69, a retired social worker and husband Brian, 66, a retired accountant, greet hundreds of visitors from across the globe through the scheme to raise money for charity.
But now, they say many of their early blooming plants have been ruined thanks to the Great British weather.
And Brian was forced to bail out more than 18 inches of water from a converted Anderson shelter.
Anne said: “Parts of the garden were completely underwater.
“In May, we had some nice weather and lots of our beautiful plants flowered – but now they’re ruined, but I’ll just deadhead them and they’ll grow back eventually.
“As a gardener, you have to be flexible and get started again, it’s just one of those things really.
“We’ll have a lot of work ahead of us, but we always say it’s better to have too much to do in the garden than too little.”
The incredible yard has been dubbed the ‘Garden of Surprises’ because visitors can’t see every part of the garden all at the same time.
The couple also created a special watering system where large water tanks that collect rainwater from the house’s gutters that’s then distributed through hoses that feed into the plants.
Due to the excessive amount of rain in the past week, the tanks have been massively overflowing.
Anne said that the surplus water will be used during dry periods of weather, as they try to be greener and more efficient with their use.
The most affected area of the garden was the shell grotto, which used to be an air raid shelter.
Brian, who has built the majority of the garden’s structures, had to bail out over 18 inches of water from the sunken step area of the grotto with a bucket, which proved to be a more challenging task than the couple expected.
They had to specially buy a pond pump to tackle the rest of the mini flood.
To finish off getting rid of it, Brian had to sponge the remnants of water in order to have the shelter ready for a gardening group visiting the following day.
The garden boasts an array of flowers, shrubs and trees and, as well as the shell grotto, includes structures such as a medieval-style folly, a pergola, a gothic summerhouse and a Japanese tea house.
This isn’t the first time the couple have dealt with heavy rain.
On their first ever open day nine years ago the heavens opened, but adverse weather conditions have never affected the prolific number of visitors.
In 2017 the pair had other problems with the old air raid shelter, when rain turned the sunken area into a ‘swimming pool’.
Despite the water problems, Anne and Brian still welcome members of the public to view their wonderful work.
Over 200 people have visited over the past couple of open days, even when it’s been flooded and raining.
The garden’s next open day is on Sunday 30th June and entry costs £5 per person, with all proceeds going to charity.
Anne said: ‘We wanted to create a garden that has something unexpected around each corner and we seemed to have done that.
“The garden raised over £7000 for charities like Macmillan and Marie Curie Cancer Care last year and that’s exactly why we open it to the public – whatever the weather.”