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Sheppey: The Ratcliffe family's TV-home garden to open to the public for the first time

By Chloe Holmwood

Kyle and Garry Ratcliffe will welcome visitors to The Courtyard, in Elmley Road, Brambledown, as part of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), where amateur gardeners are encouraged to show off their borders, lawns, shrubs and vegetable plots for charity.

The couple, who have lived at the house for five years with their four adopted children, had their garden approved by the NGS after it was transformed by the BBC DIY SOS team in October 2016.

Kyle and Garry Ratcliffe with their children Curtis, Bella, Phoebe and Haydn

Kyle and Garry Ratcliffe with their children Curtis, Bella, Phoebe and Haydn

It is now the only house on the Island to have an NGS-registered garden.

Kyle said: "Our family was lucky enough to be chosen to be helped by the DIY SOS team.

"Our old home was completely knocked down and rebuilt, with the garden laid with lawn and planted with half a dozen young statement trees to add interest, focal points and noise from their rustling leaves.

"We've since planted the garden to meet the sensory needs of our children.

The garden of DIY SOS built home in Brambledown

The garden of DIY SOS built home in Brambledown

"It has lots of colourful and scented flowers, textured foliage, and you can hear the wind through the bamboo and the sound of trickling water from the pond.

"Our flower beds are raised so our sons Haydn and Curtis, who are full-time wheelchair users, are able to enjoy their garden too."

The 40-year-old added: "We are, by no means, knowledgeable gardeners.

"We plant and grow the things we like to make the garden beautiful to look at and enjoyable to sit in."

Kyle Ratcliffe in the garden the DIY SOS team transformed

Kyle Ratcliffe in the garden the DIY SOS team transformed

The Ratcliffes also have 15 chickens, three sheep, honey bees and hives, pigs, a fish pond and a pony.

They are hosting open gardens to raise money for a number of charities including Make-A-Wish, Macmillan Cancer Support and The National Autistic Society.

'It is all about invoking the senses'

Jane Streatfeild, NGS Kent county organiser, said: "We have had a garden before on Sheppey, but it was some years ago and we are delighted to have another.

"Kyle and Garry had their house rebuilt by DIY SOS because of the needs of their children and their garden insists principally for the needs of their children.

Phoebe Ratcliffe with her sister, Bella, in their garden

Phoebe Ratcliffe with her sister, Bella, in their garden

"It is all about invoking the senses - it is designed and planned with the needs of children with learning difficulties and physical disabilities in mind.

"It is unique, illustrates that gardens can be used for well-being, and we have nothing else in Kent that has this appeal to children with learning difficulties and disability challenges."

The garden will be open from 10.30am to 2pm on Sunday, March 11, Sunday, April 1, every Monday from April 2 to September 17, Sunday, May 6, Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3, Sunday, July 1, Sunday, August 5 and Sunday, September 2.

Entry is £5 per adult, with children admitted free. There will be plants for sale and tea and cake on offer.

To book a place, call Kyle on 07875 507937 or email him at ratcliffekyle@yahoo.co.uk.

To find out more about the NGS, click here.

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