Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Garden makeover has transformed life for Haggerston family
- Credit: Onessa Cariazo
A family’s backyard has been turned into a tropical paradise on Alan Titchmarsh’s ITV show Love Your Garden, so they can “create wonderful memories there” with their severely disabled son.
Onessa and Jaroume Cariazo’s lives revolve around caring for Elijah, eight, who was born with a rare muscle condition called myotubular myopathy.
Elijah who needs round-the-clock care has trouble breathing and swallowing, and survives with the help of a machine – meaning it’s hard to leave their house in Stean Street, Haggerston.
Elijah’s godmother Stephanie Bansfield nominated the family who “never get a chance to switch off” for the show which surprises deserving people with garden makeovers.
The couple had taken a day off from St Thomas’ Hospital in Southwark where they both work as nurses and were expecting someone from the show to arrive to assess their garden – but couldn’t believe it when they saw garden guru Alan Titchmarsh at the door.
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“I was very emotional,” said Onessa. “Elijah had just come out of intensive care a week before that, and it was the worst he’s been in his life. We thought we were going to lose him in that hospital admission.
“Seeing Alan Titchmarsh and the team in front of your door was like the gold at the end of a rainbow. It was like the silver lining you are waiting for, from the hard weeks it had been for all of us emotionally.”
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They are thrilled with the garden which has been overhauled on a holiday theme, with a beach hut seating 20, pond, decking, a sensory corner and a stunning kingfisher mural. Previously the garden’s ground was too soft to get Elijah’s wheelchair outside. Now not only can they spend quality time out there with him, it has helped them make new friends.
“At some point a lot of people were looking from the outside in, so we invited every neighbour we have,” said Onessa. “It’s a very complex situation for anyone who has a disabled family member. Your situation isolates you from the rest of the world, if you are dealing with medical emergencies or a sick child.
“We have space for people to sit and have some fun times. It’s all having that quality of life and being able to be out in the garden and having wonderful memories there in the comfort of your own home, when it is hard for you to get out. It’s not just a space - it’s a beautiful oasis. It’s a paradise.”
The show is available to view on ITV Hub until September 11.