How it all started, my first job.
It’s been very many moons since starting out early one morning to work ‘in the woods’ near
my home in Caversham, Reading.
Leaving the house at 6.30am, with a hoar frost on the ground, piling into the back an Austin van, joining three others who were much more able than 14 year old me.
My mum would pack a lunch for me and added a thermos flask of hot soup.
Matt, the foreman greeted me, introducing the rest of the crew, Wilf an older gentleman
with a very gruff appearance, Aleric a much younger, very well educated fellow, David, who was my age
and the son of the boss. he was also my friend.
We were only driving about 15 miles to a small village called Checkendon where the boss owned a small woodland – around 20 acres of mixed hardwood planting.
We arrived at the five bar entrance gate, the area looked like an over grown field. Then driving down a small track, that stopped at an old rectangular concrete building with just a door, no windows. Everyone piled out, and headed for the building, inside were a selection of ‘v’ shaped planting spades, a bunch of ranging poles and a large pile of plastic bags with various bare root tree species inside.
The plan this day was to complete a mixed hardwood woodland planting. The planting distances were 5ft row separations with 5 ft planting gaps.
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Our internet radio show Growing Trends has attracted listeners from across the globe, we’ve been really amazed how many people comment and listen – thank you all so much, it really is a lot of fun to produce.
We would love to hear from you with your ideas & suggestions on the shows content.
We’ve interviewed some amazing people, from many different walks of life, with many differing interests in our outside environment – from a keen homeowner gardener, to a commercial grower, to an environmentalist to an estate gardener, to a very knowledgeable bee keeper, to an expert consultant. All have fascinating insights into the hugely diverse world of horticulture and our environment.
We are making some programming adjustments to our fall schedule to better reflect this diverse interest.
You can still listen daily at 1pm & 7pm on www.cravingtalkradio.com, or download direct from the site as a podcast, or just visit www.grotrends.com our own web site and click on the ‘listen here’ page.
Our new segments.
Time to Eat – Everything about growing your own food
.Gardenesque – All about gardens & landscapes.
World Wide Wesponsibility – A little more serious about sustainability and how we can be good custodians of our planet.
Face Time – Interviews with experts on topics of interest.
Have an idea for an interview ? send us an email and we will be in touch.. email@example.com
Drop us a line with your comments & suggestions, or even a request for an interview.. you can complete the form below or just email us Ann & Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann & I thought it would be fun to explore in a little depth the opportunities to re-connect with nature and the ways we can all achieve this within our busy schedules.
Recent reports have shown that even a simple stroll in a woodland has beneficial results, as the trees give off a scent that is very calming to us all – the Japanese even have a word for this.
We also know that the soil contains beneficial microbes that act in a similar way to anti-depressants – perhaps this is why so many gardeners are happy dedicated folks ?
Our promenade starts at home…. with a stroll around a garden.
By adding the artificial stream we created more interest as you walked around the garden.
Many of the gardens we have designed and built contain a pathway to walk around the garden, they are wide enough for two people to walk side by side, usually constructed of a long-lasting, hard wearing semi flexible surface, ( we avoided concrete as its everywhere in the urban environment, and we have found that natural materials almost always look better)
Here the path acts as transition between the shrub beds and the more formal lawn, further over was a fenced in swimming pool.
The amount of traffic, will to some extent dictate the types of finish materials best suited to the task – all will need a sub-base preparation that can withstand the intended loads. ( a reminder for designers).
A lunch break walk, or special trip to the museum , brings a different style of path.
This beautiful pathway was repeated on the other side of the parkland setting
This heavily trafficked walkway above , is constructed of large rectangular pieces of natural stone, with a suitable load bearing base beneath, it is designed for many years of use.
Some of us are lucky to have offices with roof top garden for us to relax in for a few moments, this one was attached to the staff restaurant in central London.
This Roof Garden walkway is constructed of pre-treated wood and then stained, it’s laid on a spreader system, to allow the loads to be evenly distributed across the roofs entire surface ( one of those engineering requirement when working on a roof). We stained the wood green to soften it’s impact and to add to the whole ambiance.
Back home for a moment , this stepping path acts as a beautiful transition from lawn to path to pond
Walking to the rose arbor from the house….
Constructed of large wooden pieces, this treated timber, then stained black stepping path has pea-gravel between the pieces so we could add scented herbs , which release their essence as you step on them, the edges of the shingle are stopped off with bricks set between the wooden pieces. Creating a soft, but effective pathway.
Some years ago at a Dutch Floriade we came across this superbly, educational pathway.
Designed so that users could observe nature on the floor of the pond, it was both inspirational and educational.
Almost all gardens benefit from a method to transit from one space to another, here we created a gravel path that took the place of a traditional lawn, serving two main purposes, it significantly reduced aftercare, and reduced watering, yet looked as if it was meant to be here.
This garden was only 10ft wide by the shed !
This roof garden, was the subject of an exhibition, so a great deal of work was required to create a suitable pathway around.
The roof top garden was tracing the history of London’s gardens from the middle ages to the present time – well some 20 years ago.
Here’s how it finally looked..
I’ve no idea how it looks today !
Finally, if you want very low maintenance, it’s best to stick to hard surfaces, like this granite sett pathway..
If you want a softer look , using natural bricks ( as long as they are frost resistant) is another alternative to consider.
or perhaps for the busy executive, a pathway that’s covered by a pergola on either side…
Hopefully we have inspired you to step outside and wander down to your nearest park, playground or just enjoy outside.
Find out more, listen to the amazing folks that create, tend, are passionate about or just have built these beautiful relaxing gardens, our show is all about the people
We would love to hear from you.
I don’t know about you but, it’s sure been a busy week. Here in the MIdWest the temperatures have been unseasonable , with lower temperatures than normal and lots of rain. This has had a bit of a calming effect on plant growth, with some unusual results – for instance it hasn’t been a particularly good season for of all things Rosemary.
My roses are just returning to flower after a prolonged intensive care program, which afforded harsh pesticides, insecticides and miticides use.
“She” – who much be obeyed, had given due notice that she would not be amused if they continued to look like a cross between a spiders web and a spotty leaf.
This week was also National Farmers Market Week, so we interviewed some really interesting growers at a market, we then interviewed an amazing couple who have literally planted thousands of unusual trees on their mini estate – loved the Larch, and a Zelkova, and a magnificent specimen Oak.!
All this interviewing had us thinking – well the brain cells were stimulated a tad more than normal. We realized we were noticing a trend that I suspect is becoming more prevalent, in which people are missing the contact they once had with their suppliers. The market was just bustling from early in the morning, with regulars, who really wanted to converse with the many producers, all the wonderful folks we’ve been interviewing all really enjoyed talking about their garden passions.
We could see time and again, that there is a need to engage folks, and that youngsters are part of this, they are seeking information on a one to one basis, sure you could find this on your phone or tablet, but thats only half the story, the big stores are impersonal, some even intimidating, what we are seeing is a return to the more, small personal specialist. It will be interesting to see if it continues. Big may not be as beneficial as it once was !
We wrote to some of our friends and colleagues this week to ask if they would listen to our new internet radio show ‘Growing Trends’ on www.cravingtalkradio.com , it’s on air daily at 1pm and 7pm central time. You can also find us on LIve365 if you have the free app, or you can download a broadcast from the site to listen to it as a podcast.
We made it this flexible, because unlike most radio shows you can hear us anywhere, so the shows time might be great in the USA but a little different in say England 7pm and 1am GMT. – I know we are good but, staying up until 1am to hear Ann & Myself is a bit of a stretch.
What I really wanted to write and say was thank you, thank you for listening, we gained a huge number of new listeners this week, which enabled us to sign new sponsors – yes we need sponsors like everyone else. The sponsors are great, they agree to sponsor us for a modest monthly fee, we in turn give them at least four free interviews a year, and mention them at least once a month when they are not being interviewed.
If this sounds interesting and you would like to be a sponsor, drop us a line we would love to hear from you. If you are passionate about your garden landscape and you would like to talk about it, drop us a line
The Japanese have discovered that trees give off scents that actually have a calming effect on us, listen to Kelly Daniels ( the picture above is one from her gallery – The Kelly Gallery) talking about this in her interview airing at 1pm & 7pm daily.
I read today that antidepressant microbes in the soil have been discovered, called Mycobacterium vaccae, it’s been found to mirror the effects on neurons that drugs provide.
Which reminds me, I was digging in the soil today and I came across this large black disc with grooves all over both sides, I put it to my ear but I couldn’t hear anything…. if you get time do tune in and let us know what you think, or if you have some suggestions, we want to make the show about the all the wonderful people connected to our industry.
if you need some inspiration for a small landscape or garden project read on….
We’ve been designing & building dream gardens for homeowners for 40 years now, winning awards, being creative and watching various trends come & go, customers desires and generally listening to clients wishes.
Some have been quite modest… as below.
others rather more ambitious..
Almost all the clients, wanted to complete some of the work themselves. The part they most wanted to do was the planting, either spring, summer or fall bedding, bulb planting, or perennial , shrub and herb planting. Recently we have seen an interest in vegetable growing.
Being folks that listen to our customers , it’s how we win awards, we also understood that we would have to make it much easier for folks, than a traditional planting plan we started out a few years ago to develop a new easy way to layout a planting scheme- we consulted other experts , eventually settling on one method with two products ( one a normal version the other an eco friendly version). inspired we then applied for a patent.( this in itself should be the subject of a blog all on its own)
Last week I am very happy to say we picked up our patent for the “Weekend Garden Kit”, which I have to confess was exciting, a big thank you for all who helped us, of which there were many.
Here’s how it works.
This simple to use system enables you to place the plants & features in the correct position without the need for time consuming setting out or measuring.
By using a grid system , we can add the position on the pot label, it makes the whole process much faster, and less likely for error. – they actually come as part of the kit.
so to set this out all you need is the special landscape fabric and where to plant or place the feature.
The result should then be this
To make this even easier we developed a free app called “PicaGardi” available on iTunes, Google play and Kindle to enable you to see ‘How ‘ an idea might look in your own project before you buy, take a look it’s fun and free and works on Phones and Tablets.
You can download it here www.terratemplates.com
You can either select a picture from your ‘Gallery’ or take a new one with the ‘Camera’ button, then press ‘Ideas’ to see and idea float across the screen, tap it, pinch, scale and place to see how it would look on your project.
If you would like to make some comments or suggestions or just receive more information please fill in the form..
Continuing from our last blog, we move to a slightly larger herb and veggie garden. Using our newly patented Weekend Garden Kits.
We’ve also added some african marigolds to help keep pests away, our next one will include some nasturtiums to further help protect naturally.
This garden uses one of our recently patented Weekend Garden Kits, which helps save a huge amount of time, reduces significantly weed growth and helps preserve moisture levels.
By purchasing the kit early, you can use it to almost effortlessly remove weeds in your plot area – this is achieved quite simply by, marking out the area and then covering with a generous layer of old newspapers, place the weekend garden kit fabric over the newspaper and use the pegs provided to keep in position. After about 4- 6 weeks all the weed growth beneath will have been stopped and the earth should be almost clear.
Simply remove the newspapers, and any debris, reset the weekend garden kit, and plant as directed for the chosen layout.
The one above took less than 2 hours to plant you can see how here.
Today there are many more who would like to grow their own Herbs & Vegetables, the desire is not just from homeowners with traditional gardens, but also those living in flats & apartments, using either a balcony or a kitchen window.
Those without any space are looking at allotments & community gardens when they catch the ‘bug’
Demand is ‘growing’ all the time, from all over the world.
Schools are finding that they need to include growing in the curriculum showing children how to grow edibles which leads to more interest in cooking, which then creates a much healthier lifestyle and a huge demand for fresh food.
So what are the best ways to grow?
This is an interesting question and I suspect the real answer is – It depends !
It depends where you are in the world
It depends on where you want to grow
It depends what you want to grow
It depends how much light, heat and water you have available.
It depends how much time you want to spend growing.
It also depends on what resources you may have to use.
Initially it depends how much skill you have, interestingly while you will quickly learn ‘How to’ , mother nature has a habit of throwing you a curve ball now and then, so somethings you expect to do will with will suddenly suffer and others will thrive.
So let’s take a look at the methods of growing first as we could spend simply ages trying to find the best places and times to grow.
Can be as small as a pot , grow bag or individually planted between existing plants in a landscape.
Multi pots, planters, or raised vegetable garden
Fenced in Garden, Roof garden, Commercial enterprise.
What would you like to start?