Patisso the patio king

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Staining – one of the Fylde’s most breathtakingly bloomingly beautiful villages – has stolen a march on Southport Flower Show. It has already acquired the services of a man now tipped to be one of the North West’s up and coming garden design talents since bagging a silver gilt medal, second only to gold, in the prestigious show gardens section yesterday.

Adriano Patisso, 42, and a self-styled “gardening late starter”, has already helped locals transform the local community centre land into a wildlife park, with football dugouts doubling as bird hides, outdoor classrooms for local children provided, native trees planted and other features.

Come autumn, the Bispham-based Gardenworks and Design chief is back in Staining to help plant out a wildflower meadow on common land in the heart of the village.

“Right now it’s like a burial mound since all the soil was moved, dug up around the park,” says Adriano, who says the Staining commission gave him first big break since qualifying as a garden and landscape gardener.

“I’ve got two young kids myself and my wife is a teacher so I’m really committed to community gardening and getting children involved,” he adds.

Today Adriano is hitting the headlines as the new boy on the show garden block at Southport Flower Show, pictured inset, which runs until Sunday.

His contribution to this year’s Vintage show theme, transforming a small patch of unturfed earth at Victoria Gardens, into a garden retreat for a saw mill worker, complete with waterwheel, wild flowers and native trees, made a huge impression on judges.

“I only really did it for the experience,” he admits.

Adriano owns up to having been “blown away” by winning the silver gilt award on his very first showing at Southport, particularly with a garden which, he reckons, will have cost a fraction of the price of those of others competing, £1,500, thanks to sponsorship by Wiltshire Farm Foods, and with all labour free, thanks to his Italian father being pressed into service, along with friends.

“To be honest, one of the chaps nearby hasn’t spoken to me yet. I think he’s quite disappointed. He must have spent five times more than I have!”

Adriano, who used to be a chef, until turning his creative skills to gardening, graduated from Myerscough College in garden and landscape two years ago, and has worked as a jobbing gardener since, mostly relying on maintenance work to pay the bills, thanks to a loyal customer base of predominantly pensioners.

“I’m a qualified garden designer and work around the Fylde, but maintenance is my bread and butter and I like my regular customers – but now the design commissions are coming in, Staining is my biggest project to date, and the results have been well received.”

His Southport garden is just the showcase his career needs, propelling him to the attention of Diarmuid Gavin, Stefan Buczacki, David Bellamy and Roddy Llewellyn, along with 75,000 visitors, amateur and professional gardeners, who flock to the four-day show, the largest independent flower show in the UK, and now in its 82nd year.

It usually attracts a strong contingent from the Fylde coast, and this year is no exception, with Kirkham Open Prison, as ever, competing in the main floral marquee, and several trade stands featuring local companies.

It’s already made stars of several local garden designers, including Pasquale Pascucci, of St Annes. He has become one of the most acclaimed designers in the North West since his successful debut at Southport in 2003, shortly after graduating from Myerscough, with his award-winning futuristic garden based on Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Adriano, a member of the Society of Garden Designers, now an overnight star, hopes to follow in Pasquale’s footsteps.

“You’ve got to start somewhere,” he admits. “I begged and borrowed plants, reclaimed stone, old pots, tried to make it as woodland and rustic as possible. I’ve been congratulated on my garden being so different.

“My parents are over in Italy and I called them to say I’d won silver gilt and my dad, who’s a retired builder, said you wouldn’t have won if I hadn’t made the watermill for you!”

The show also reflects the growing interest with growing food, and, at a time when local allotment societies are campaigning for more allotments, particularly in the north of Blackpool, and also Wyre, Adriano admits it’s heartening to see such emphasis on allotments in the show.

“It’s a cause close to my heart,” he adds. “People see gardens as additional rooms, different rooms for different things, and the numbers growing their own fruit and veg has just rocketed. It’s a great way of getting kids involved...”

A fellow garden expert of Italian descent, Richard Gianfrancesco, formerly of Poulton, gardening researcher for Which? for 10 years, has just published a book Grow Your Own Food (Apple, £14.99) which offers a step by step guide.