No vacay getaway? No problem!
A couple unknowingly anticipated the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions when they brought Thailand back to the UK two years ago.
Following a holiday to the Southeast Asian country, Chris Ensell, 32, and his wife, Anneka, 31, agreed to recreate a garden inspired by their idyllic vacation.
As a result, the pair started renovations in the summer of 2019 and created their own calming oasis in their back garden at their home in Ackworth, West Yorkshire.
Chris looked back on their house which they bought in 2018 when the garden consisted of nothing more than dry ground.
He said: “When we first moved into the house the garden was just made up of dry and useless turf that hadn’t been watered for weeks.
“I wasn’t massively into gardening before starting this project as this was the first house that we lived in that had a good garden space.
“Our first home only had a decked area with room for some potted plants.”
The 32-year-old photographer went on to explain how the idea to transform their garden into a tropical paradise came.
“After spending some time thinking about how we would like to design the garden, a tropical paradise theme seemed perfect because we had loved our holidays to destinations such as Thailand and Sri Lanka,” he said.
“We visited Sri Lanka for our honeymoon in 2018.
“We took a lot of inspiration from a place called Jim Thompsons house in Bangkok. It’s so calming and idyllic, we wanted to recreate this in our garden at home so that stepping into the garden would feel like we were on holiday.”
Nevertheless, refurbishing their British home’s garden into an Asian paradise was no walk in the park.
The newlyweds had to do a lot of research on tropical plants in order to properly care for them.
“It seems pointless to spend money on tropical plants if I didn’t know how to take care of them,” Chris said.
He added: “I have learned on the job. I’ve spent lots of time watching YouTube videos and gardening programs on television.”
Now, nearly experts, the couple own up to 300 variations of plants which Chris has estimated to be worth around £4,000.
The lovebirds have to shop at specific growers for their tropical plants and sometimes even attend rare plant fairs to try and get as many unusual plants as possible.
“I like it when people look at our plants and are unsure about what they are,” Chris admitted.
He continued: “As tropical plants tend to grow quite fast, it is a challenge to know where to place the plants in the garden and where is best to plant them for sunlight.
“They are a lot easier to look after in the summer, I just have to water them in the mornings and evenings.”
Chris also revealed that during the summer was the period of the year where their garden looked the best.
“In the winter we have to dig up some of the plants and put them into our greenhouse with heaters to keep them alive,” he explained.
He added: “This is why research is important so you know how to keep your tropical plants in the best conditions over the winter periods.”
With the entire project costing around $1,500, Chris and Anneka received the help of some family members, to aid keep the price of the renovation down.
The couple tried to work on a budget and bought equipment for “as cheap as possible” and sometimes free using Facebook Marketplace.
Chris revealed: “Seeing the garden coming together more recently has been brilliant because the plants are getting to really good sizes now.
“We are so happy with the tropical theme that we chose.
“Especially during the pandemic as we can’t go on holiday, we have our garden as our own little holiday and oasis.”