Express & Star

'The stalk of the town': Britain's best garden back open for final appearance

This weekend will mark the final time that one of Britain's most celebrated gardens opens its doors to the public – ending 22 years of displays.

Tony and Marie Newton, and their garden, 'Four Seasons', in Walsall

Retired amateur gardeners Tony Newton, aged 73 and wife Marie, 74, both of Walsall, have spent 40 years cultivating the amazing 'Four Seasons' garden, bringing both joy and colour to the Black Country.

Mr and Ms Newton have welcomed over 15,000 visitors from 41 countries to , at 26 Buchanan Road, Walsall, but after more than 100 displays, the couple will bring an end to the event to spend more time with their family.

Marie spoke about the joy of owning the garden. She said: "It's been nice to have this legacy that is shared with so many people. We thought it would be a shame not to share this with everyone, sadly everything must come to an end eventually."

Tony and Marie Newton

The couple have spent 40 years cultivating the grounds, planting and growing around their work life – where Tony was a GP, and Marie was a nurse.

Marie said: "When we worked we both worked full time, Tony worked more than full time as a GP, but we both managed to fit a bit of gardening in.

"On average we would spend at least a few hours a day gardening, but we would take the winter months off, there isn't a lot you can do in the winter."

Over the years the couple have raised around £52,000 for various charities, taking donations from visitors from all around the world.

A winter's scene

Marie said: "We donate around three quarters of what we get to the National Gardens Scheme, who support Hospice UK and the Marie Curie foundation, the rest goes to other charities.

"It's been wonderful to meet so many different people over the years, we have recently had Chinese and Japanese visitors who said it's been on their visitor curriculum to visit here.

"We even had one visitor from Iceland who based his whole trip the UK around our garden. we didn't know how famous our garden had become."

Over the years the garden has cultivated a huge following, having over 17 million followers on social media, also winning numerous awards and being featured on TV.

Building the first waterfall in 2001

The couple remembered the highlights of the 22 years, from pruning trees in torrential rain to sitting back and watching visitors enjoy the garden.

Marie said: "I remember gardening in the pouring rain, Tony bought me a cup of soup and a piece of toast and I remember I couldn't drink the soup faster than it would fill up with water.

"The highlight for me was seeing a bereaved neighbour who had lost a loved one come to the garden to sit and watch the waterfall and reflect. The heart-warming stories are the ones that really make me proud."

Situated in the heartland of the Black Country, the couple believe that anyone can cultivate a ground like theirs.

Marie shovelling bark in 2001

Marie said: "It's really about planning it out and taking the time. You can do all of this in a small area. Plants need space and proper pruning and enough care. Know your soil and your restrictions and grow around the conditions you have.

The couple had some closing words on their last display and the joy that creating a this green space has bought them.

"It's been an absolute joy, we are really proud and honoured, we are still going forward but in a slightly different direction, we are moving to childcare instead of plant care."

Anyone looking to visit the gardens for the last time can visit the plot at 26 Buchanan Road, Walsall, between 10am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday, where tickets are available for £5 per adult, and children enter free.