A green-fingered couple who have spent 20 years building an incredible Japanese-themed garden behind their bungalow home are now preparing to show it off to the public.

Dawn and Terry Heaver, who say they have never even visited Japan, began cultivating the three-quarter-acre plot after being inspired by a visit to a nearby botanical gardens.

Their secluded garden in the village of St Ives, Dorset, is now enclosed by evergreen trees and features a waterfall, an ornamental 5,000sq ft lake, two shinto torii gates, an Oriental pergoda and Japanese stone ornaments including a tiered tower and foo dogs.

They have spent thousands of pounds planting hundreds of vibrant azaleas, acers, various breeds of rhododendron bushes and traditional Japanese cloud trees.

Though the tranquil garden is inspired by Japanese horticulture the couple admit they have no interest in travelling to the Far East as they have their ‘own version’ in their back garden.

Terry says they have "lost count" of the money spent building the garden

Credit: Corin Messer/BNPS

An aerial view of the garden 

Credit: Corin Messer 

Dawn and Terry have also added palm trees that now tower 20ft and conifers that have grown to 35ft.

The couple will be throwing open the doors to their own private on June 13 as part of the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

Money from entrance fees and tea, coffee and cake sales on the day will go towards the NGS and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where their adult son Carl was once treated as a child.

On what inspired the garden, Dawn, 65, explained: "We just like Japanese-style gardens – we’ve never even been to Japan.

"When we first moved here from Harrow in London in 1994 we went to Compton Acres in Poole and we just loved their Japanese garden.

"A lot of people always ask us how we have come up with it but it has just grown over the years.

"Terry even says wants his ashes scattered around the garden when he’s gone, but I tell him he’ll ruin the plants."

The lake, which they built using around 100 tons of Purbeck stone and 300 bags of cement 

Credit: Corin Messer 

The couple's garden is inspired by a visit to a nearby botanical gardens

Credit: Corin Messer 

Terry, who ran his own central heating business until retiring three years ago, admitted that he had lost count of the amount of money they had spent on the project.

The 69-year-old said: "I have always kept ponds with carp in but when we moved here I thought ‘I’m going to build something similar to the Compton Acres gardens."

"The hardest part was moving all of the rocks and features. We have two foo dogs guarding the entrance arches which weigh three-quarters of a ton each."

Until recently the couple had more than 60 koi carp inhabiting their lake, which they built using around 100 tons of Purbeck stone and 300 bags of cement – all moved by hand.

But the carp were killed by invading otters from a nearby River Avon which forced Terry to sell them.

In 2019 they had over 500 visitors over two weekends and raised £4,250 for charity.