Healthy Living

  • Allergies,  Book Reviews,  Podcasts

    Suffering from Allergies?

    Ann and I were fortunate to interview Tom Ogren.

    Tom is the author of a fascinating ,very informative book about Allergies in the garden.

    This is a must read for avid gardeners everywhere. Especially if you are one of the many suffering from allergies.

    Allergy-Fighting Garden, cover

    You can hear our interview with Tom below or at or on iTunes at Growing Trends

    We would love to hear your thoughts and comments, please spend a moment sending us your thoughts and suggestions.

    Ann & Chris

      Views: 281

    • Book Reviews,  Healthy Living,  Podcasts

      The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion

      Cancer Survivors Garden Companion1

      Ann and I were fortunate to interview Jenny Peterson, just after her new book was published. Jenny is an amazing, extremely positive lady who is an inspiration for us all.

      A Garden that Heals.

      Pittsburgh, Pa. (October 5, 2015): When Jenny Peterson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, it rocked her world. Her cancer treatment was hard, emotional and often deeply depressing. But Peterson, a garden designer and Master Gardener, did not let the cancer diagnosis define her. She used her desire to garden and dig in the dirt again to pull her out of the darkness. And she discovered that gardening is good medicine –for the body, mind and spirit.

      The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion:

      Cultivating Hope, Healing and Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet
      (St. Lynn’s Press, January 2016) tells Peterson’s story and explores the therapeutic benefits of this vital “earth connection,” including inspirational profiles of other cancer survivors, both men and women, whose gardens became their partners in healing.

      With gentle empathy, beautiful photographs and easy how-to steps. Peterson shows others how to create their own backyard haven for healing – a personal restorative garden – with well-grounded guidance about diet, exercise, mental focus and spiritual renewal. Her book adds a fresh voice to the growing fields of horticultural therapy and therapeutic gardens.

      What others are saying about The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion:

      “Jenny’s tips for incorporating gardening into your life for mind, body, and spiritual health are ingenious!


      What other authors are saying.

      As a cancer coach, I will definitely be suggesting this book to my clients.” – Susan Gonzalez, BSN, CPCC, co-author of 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, and editor of The Savvy Sister blog

      “Jenny’s beautiful book reminds us all that life can be found in the healing, meditative act of gardening. By lovingly tending a garden, we can learn to nurture ourselves, restoring our mind, body and spirit in the process.” – Ray Anne Evans, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas

      “Jenny’s connection with gardening, garden design, and simply being in nature remained strong throughout her cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. In fact, it was part of what helped her through. And now she is helping others to learn from her powerful experience.” – Naomi A. Sachs, Founding Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network; co-author, Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces

      The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion will teach readers how to use the garden to heal, find hope and feel joy.

      About the Author.

      Jenny Peterson is a landscape designer and Master Gardener specializing in xeriscaping and small urban spaces. She is a cancer survivor who found hope and healing in her garden, even during the darkest days of chemotherapy and radiation. In the process, she made deep connections with the cancer support community, including physicians, nutritionists, bodywork practitioners, psychologists and spiritual counselors.

      Peterson co-authored Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013) with Kylee Baumle. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her fiancé, 19 chickens, two dogs, two quails and a goat.

      You can listen to the interview here :   Interviewing Jenny Peterson

      If you would like to purchase the book : The Cancer Survivors Garden Companion

      Views: 146

    • Book Reviews,  Healthy Living,  Planting,  Podcasts

      The right-sized Flower Garden

      Kerry Mendez has a passion for gardening, in her latest book “The right-sized Flower Garden” she discusses how to develop a garden that you can manage, often this will reduce the amount of work involved. As she explains it’s all … Continue reading

      Views: 79

    • Allergies,  Book Reviews,  Environment,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Podcasts

      Suffering from Allergies?

      It’s allergy awareness week in  England . A subject that has become more and more important to my family over the past few years. My grandson Callum was born with severe allergies , which appear at the slightest opportunity, so … Continue reading

      Views: 64

    • Edibles,  Education,  Face Time,  Farming,  Food,  Home & Garden,  Landscape design,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Landscaping,  Nature,  Podcasts,  sustainability,  Vegetable Growing,  World Wide WEsponsibility

      GT106:Sustainability for the world today.

      Ann and Chris interview Rich Sapienza and Bill Sosinsky  we talk about sustainable solutions for the world today. It's fascinating, interesting and very enlightening. Sustainability must work on its own, grow on its own, support itself with the built-in ability … Continue reading

      Views: 59

    • Edibles,  Face Time,  Food,  Healthy Living,  Horticulture,  Planting,  Podcasts,  sustainability,  Vegetable Growing,  World Wide WEsponsibility

      GT104:Introducing Energime University

      World Wide WEsponsibility Bill Sosinsky, Founder, Co-Owner, and CEO of The Energime Family of Companies including Energime Sustainable Technologies, Energime Power, Energime Energy Efficiency and is the Chairman of the Board for The Energime Foundation. Bill is also the Founder … Continue reading

      Views: 63

    • Edibles,  Face Time,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Healthy Living,  Home & Garden,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Planting,  Podcasts,  Time to Eat

      GT103:Patti talks about her Bees & Bee keeping

      Patti is one of those rare ladies, an expert bee keeper and a fascinating speaker. Listen to her explain the intricate lifestyle of the honey bee, it's truly fascinating and very educational. We visited Patti at her lovely country home … Continue reading

      Views: 166

    • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Healthy Living,  Home & Garden,  Landscape design,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  park,  Vegetable Growing

      What do our kids really know about plants?

      I was reading an interesting article the other day, it was discussing what today’s children know about plants.

      The part that caused me to sit up and wonder was this line..  “Today’s children can identify about 1000 company logos but only identify 10 plants outside

      I wonder how accurate this statement is?

      So a quick test – could you identify the plant below?


      or perhaps this one.?


      Thinking a little about it, brings to mind the simple realization that many  children do not really understand where much of our food comes from.

      We really need to change this for many reasons, perhaps our internet radio show, can help?

      Listen at
      Listen at

      We want to engage ‘Granny Growers’ and introduce them to the ‘Growing Uppers’ , to start this rolling we’re heading off to interview a few senior citizens  in our retirement community, to ask them what they learned and how they think we can help our grand children.

      if you have some ideas , we would love to hear from you to… just drop us a line

      Views: 108

    • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Healthy Living,  Home & Garden,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  park,  Vegetable Growing

      How do you see garden landscapes evolving ?

      Many years ago, we often introduced new ideas and products into our designs on a fairly regular basis. Some were because we developed our own ideas, products and subsequently ‘different’ offerings, we then ‘sold’ them to our customers.

      Natural brisk drive hand pointed

      When we started offering irrigation systems, we had to find a way to sell them to our more affluent customers, without making the costs too high, but most importantly by not disrupting or destroying the landscapes we had put in only a few years earlier.

      Hydraulically installed irrigation
      Hydraulically installed irrigation

      We achieved this by finding a rather interesting hydraulic mole from Germany that used compressed air, it worked really well at a depth of 900mm and was pumped a distance of around 5m , which when reversed pulled the water pipe back through the drilled hole. This simple tool saved huge amounts of time and reinstatement costs – more importantly it amazed our clients who were thrilled that we could install such sophisticated systems without a huge amount of disruption.

      Next came low voltage lighting systems, which made landscape lighting safe and easy to instal, the picture below isn’t our work  it’s a Park in Paris, but it serves it’s purpose quite well.

      Park  in Paris
      Park in Paris

      Today we seem to have slowed down on major changes or have we?

      Commercially vertical walled gardens are becoming quite popular and are definitely a recent development.

      A Green Wall

      Whilst in Gardens we have built for over 30 years eco friendly  ‘Green Retaining Walls’ such as this one

      Treated Structural Green Wall
      Treated Structural Green Wall

      Roof Gardens have been around for years, we were designing and building them back in the distant 1980’s

      Wooden pathway on Roof Garden
      Wooden pathway on Roof Garden

      Home owners are developing a taste for their own food production.

      An example from a Chelsea Flower Show exhibit
      An example from a Chelsea Flower Show exhibit

      Herb & Vegetable gardening is becoming very popular today.

      Weekend Garden Kit from Picagardi

      I’m seeing a huge demand for food production, but currently the solutions are traditional cold frames, cloches or greenhouses, all very time consuming and with varying degrees of cost.

      Today with all the concerns over GMO crops, with apparent excessive use of pesticides, more and more people are either buying from local organic farmers or starting out on the incredibly satisfying journey of producing their own fruit and vegetables.

      We’ve been developing an easy to use kit that makes selection, planting and growing much easier and for a much longer time frame.

      We call it ‘Hort Cuisine’ our way of saying it’s fun, friendly and offers tasty treats when you gather your crops.

      Hort Cuisine Grid
      Hort Cuisine Grid

      The patented system enables almost limitless combinations of plants to be selected, enabling designs for any climate region.

      Creating those beautiful ‘Knot’ gardens just became a simple process.

      Potager 1

      So here are a few questions……

      What new ideas have you seen recently?

      What would you like to see developed?

      In the last 5 years what is the best landscape invention you’ve seen?

      What would your customers like to add to their garden landscape?

      Drop us a line with your replies we will  have a follow up blog shortly.

      or follow our internet radio show at

      Views: 56

    • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Healthy Living,  Home & Garden,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  Vegetable Growing

      Where do you find inspiration….

      Changing a Landscape.

      Starting with an existing landscape is always a challenge..


      How do you develop an idea?

      Does it just grow on you?


      I’ve often been asked this seemingly simple question

      ‘Where do you find your inspiration? ‘ or perhaps it might be

      ‘ Where do you get your ideas from?’ .

      A Garden Lover's Garden img2

      At first it was from seeing new things and figuring we could apply them to specific projects we were working on, albeit with a different slant, or approach. As we gained more and more knowledge ( experience) we instinctively knew what would work and what would require more thought ( more thought equates to time, experimentation and thus expense) – That’s not to say we didn’t make errors, because we surely did, luckily most times these ‘mistakes’ were of a limited nature, involving us spending more time than we expected.


      I’ve always been happy to let staff experiment as long as there’s a learning process, in which they figure that making the same mistake more than once is avoidable. I’ve also found that the good old notebook and pencil is an invaluable tool, even today, writing information down has saved all manner of accidents from occurring, both financial and construction wise.

      The beginnings of a well

      Well base

      The finished well, using bricks, oak and peg tiles.

      Wishing well feature with trellis back drop

      Today our emphasis is firmly on simplifying ‘How to ‘ , in particular , with the huge changes to the worlds weather, we’ve been working hard on adapting our patented techniques so that home owners growing their own veggies & herbs in a quick ,efficiently and simply method as possible.

      We are also close to enabling an 11 month growing cycle for anyone living in zones 5 and above.

      Using well tried & tested, mainly low tech solutions , to achieve this.

      Our “Hort Cuisine Kit” will be available soon !

      Hort Cuisine Grid
      Hort Cuisine Grid

      Using our internet radio show & this blog , has enabled us to reach hither too undreamed of audiences across the world – currently we have been listened to or read in 43 countries, so a big thank you to you all for keeping on reading.

      Growing Trends a new style of garden Show on
      Growing Trends a new style of garden Show on

      We would love to hear from you – Ann my co – host and I are hoping we can find as many ‘Granny Growers’ as possible and link them to ‘Growing Uppers’ ( our grandchildren ) , so that the knowledge, skills and techniques learned over generations of growing our own food, can be passed down before we all succumb to the mass produced, widely transported, heavily chemically sprayed, produce that has changed our once balanced diets.

      Views: 37

    • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Healthy Living,  Home & Garden,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  park,  Vegetable Growing

      How much do we really know about soil?

      “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.”  – Leonardo Da Vinci

      Living a healthy lifestyle can mean many things, regular sleep, exercise, reduced stress, enjoying work, balanced eating, learning something new everyday, exploring new sights, meeting friends & relatives or a gentle stroll around a park.

      Japanese Gardens Portland

      Almost all involve going outside at some stage, or even spending time outside. Like this walk across the Jura Mountains in France.

      Walking in France

      When we were kids we used to dig in the ‘dirt’ , now it turns out this passed beneficial microbes to us. Plenty of microbes on the Farm.

      On the Farm

      Today we hear of parks and recreations departments that are banning pesticides and herbicides from play areas, and sports fields – 40 years ago we were more concerned with flint stones breaking the surface of the grass and ‘skinning’ kids knees when they played sports.

      Field hockey needed a very even playing surface of grass to be played well, so it was often heavily compacted and over fed to keep the grass green & growing !

      Field Hockey

      Research shows time and again how beneficial taking a walk in a woodland is, or sitting under a tree, or making a garden or landscape.

      The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art , Sculpture Park

      Yet most of us, move from one hermetically sealed air conditioned room, to our hermetically sealed air conditioned car,


      to our hermetically sealed air conditioned office – is it any wonder we are losing a connection with nature?

      Offices , New York

      Those folks lucky enough to live outside cities and away from the urban sprawl , are indeed fortunate.

      Le Poizat, France

      They can leave windows open at night, refreshing the air inside, removing stale contaminated air, rarely using air conditioning.


      We figured a hedge around the house and a tree canopy above was more than enough to reduce the inside temperature 20 degrees or more. It creates its own microclimate between the hedge & the house.while also providing a fair degree of privacy.

      The planning process hasn’t helped much either with 140ft set backs, single story developments , individual car parking areas for each business and strip malls, that encourage you to ‘hop’ in the car to go from store to store.

      Strip Mall

      Then same style sub divisions, with all vegetation ‘stripped’ , the topsoil structure almost non-existent at the construction stage, then hardly any landscaping to create interest, shade, or harmony with surrounding areas.

      In fact it wouldn’t be too far to say that the effect is boring !

      I wonder how many years it takes before this picture changes?

      Sub Division

      All this contributes to built in obsolescence within 25 years, the developments have very little diversity of style and worse a total lack of walking from home to the stores, – one of the healthiest pursuits for us all.

      One of the major advantages of living in towns or cities is this easy connection with homes, stores, work places and amenities.

      A tree lined sidewalk

      We all tend to be creatures of habit, so this routine is a hard one to alter

      There are signs of a healthier approach.

      Trams making a welcome return

      Mass transit provides a wealth of benefits, less pollution, easier and quicker commuter travelling, safer travelling, an opportunity to connect with fellow citizens. A more relaxed journey.

      Green walls in the urban environment soften an otherwise ‘hard’ landscape, reducing the carbon footprint of the area, making a much more ‘pleasing’ view.

      A Green Wall

      Roof gardens make a more focused impact, they improve the carbon foot print, offer a new habitat and an amenity for the buildings users.

      New York Roof Garden

      It seems all those ideas, methods and activities from yesteryear were not all that bad for us.

      Our connection with nature is again expanding  with more and more people exploring the option to grow their own food, or seek out farmers markets.

      Could you grow these?

      I suspect for this to become even more popular there will be a need to initially at least simplify the mysteries of growing your own?

      The Community Garden or Allotment is a great way to learn the ‘tricks of the trade’ – these are either individual growing areas  ‘Allotments’ or the more common these days communal ‘Community Garden’


      Of course there is the local ‘Pick your Own’ farms for all those inseason goodies.

      These look yummy !

      From ‘Farm to Table’ might be best said as from ‘Grower to Consumer’ – if this were local, it would have a huge impact on carbon emission reductions ( a lettuce travels 1400 miles to reach your table, not sure how that could ever be described as fresh!).

      Weekend Garden Kit from Picagardi

      The more we as professionals make this process easier the greater the likely uptake by households in towns and cities, where new skills will need to be developed.

      A really easy start.

      A stacked group of herbs, perfect for a compact space.

      Stacked herb pot.

      or much more complex, this lovely exhibition garden shows how to create small garden boxes of produce.

      An example from a Chelsea Flower Show exhibit

      Now all we need is a simple method for the consumer… It will need to have an option which includes a growing medium as many urban yards have very poor soil conditions.

      This system can be found at

      herb cube

      Using a unique patented layout grid. enabling almost anyone to place plants in the correct positions is an option.

      Listen to our up coming internet radio show all about developing gardens at  we call it ‘Hort Cusine’ !

      Hort Cuisine Grid
      Hort Cuisine Grid

      The very popular and effective Square Foot Gardening Foundation, developed by Mel Bartholomew has been around for many years, with countless books, examples and users.

      As has the New Organic Grower & Four Season Harvest to name but a few from Eliot Coleman, an amazing grower in Maine.

      It’s time to really try and add herbs & veggies into our urban landscapes.

      We as landscape professionals need to promote home grown food more when we plan new landscapes for clients.

      Views: 161