Not a garden-variety makeover

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    The surprise of a lifetime was waiting for Lori Wardrup when she stepped into her backyard.

    Her husband James Wardrup lured her there by saying there was something the children wanted her to see. 

    The entire cast and crew of BBC America’s garden transformation show, “Ground Force,” was hiding around the corner.

    “I started screaming and shaking. I was in shock,” said Lori Wardrup, a senior middle school education and English major.

    “Ground Force” travels around the world. In 48 hours, they turn normal backyards into beautiful garden spaces, without being caught by the gardener of the house. 

    “We stayed hidden as she first saw the garden, so we could see how she liked it, then we stepped out where she could see us,” said Tommy Walsh, the landscape construction expert on the show. “First she saw me, and screamed ‘Oh Tommy,’ then she saw Kirsty and Willy and she called out each of their names.” 

    Walsh said she then completely saw the new garden, with jasmine on trellises that arch over winding stone paths and purple flowers that surround the fountain and pond. Flowering shrubs, daffodils and tulips now fill the beds with color.

    Wardrup’s garden was selected from 12 finalists across the country, said Kirsty King, associate producer and horticulturist. She said it was selected for it’s unique challenges and environment in North Texas. The show with Wardrup’s garden will air in July.

    “When I heard them announce they were selecting gardens to makeover in the United States, I went straight to my computer and wrote them about our yard,” James Wardrup said. 

    While “Ground Force” transformed Wardrup’s garden, Lori Wardrup’s mom took her to Bossier City, La. 

    “I don’t know how the kids kept it a secret,” Lori Wardrup said. “They knew everything for months, and I never knew a thing. My youngest usually can’t keep a secret for two days.”

    When the work was finished, the cast and crew of “Ground Force” partied Cowtown style in the Stockyards. Walsh took a ride down Exchange Avenue on a longhorn steer. 

    “That’s as close as I want to be to bull riding,” Walsh said. 

    Cattlemen’s Steakhouse was one of the favorite food stops for the crew. 

    “They know how to cook steaks in Texas,” Walsh said, “I think that 18 oz. rib-eye I had was the best I’ve ever eaten.”

    Cameras also caught the gardening gang taking in other Stockyards traditions such as the stampede, the rodeo and a late night of music and dancing at Billy Bob’s.

    Saturday morning they were back on the plane heading to the home of the next unsuspecting gardener and Lori Wardrup was back to her routine of school work.

    Her husband said it took just about everything to get her away from her classes and convince her to leave Fort Worth in the middle of a semester.

    “The day before she was going to talk to her professors about missing class I called the chancellor’s office,” James Wardrup said. “They made a few calls and told all her professors what was happening, so they were all prepared when she came to ask for the days off.”