• Amusing events over the years,  Award winning landscape Design & Build,  Landscape Design & Build

    Some unusual moments – while designing & constructing landscape projects

    Unusual moments from the past 50 years.

    I’ve been really fortunate during much of my working years.

    Meeting famous people,

    Visiting simply amazing homes.

    Helping Buy & Sell some truly amazing homes  

    Designing & building some fabulous landscape projects all over the world.


    A big thank you.

    First though, a really big thank you.

    To all my incredible staff during all this time. I could not have done any of it without their help and encouragement.

    I was indeed fortunate to employ some highly skilled, extremely talented, great folks.

    During these, many years.

    The team was rewarded with a huge number of awards for our work. – 17 National Awards, and 3 Chelsea Flower Show Awards.


    Here are a few of the prestigious ones that came with extremely unusual moments:

    Now in no particular order, more, just how I recollected them are some of those events.

    The Tower of London

    Here a straightforward design and install for an irrigation system, we were the first Toro residential dealer in London.  

    The irrigation systems were for the Moat & the Queen’s terrace. (that’s just outside where you queue to go in to see the Crown Jewels). 

    We were not allowed to cut into any of the building’s fabric, or into the stonework. In addition, we had to find a place to hide an 800-gallon water tank with a pump along with all the switching gear. This had to be accessible for future maintenance.

    Once the design was completed. There followed the setting out of the irrigation lines.

    These were completed and trenching begun.

    A Collection of Bones

    We had just started to trench the main lines when suddenly we exposed a collection of bones – human bones.

    When this happens it’s extremely wise to contact a few people you might not otherwise know.

    In no particular order, they were the facility manager (they have a wonderful name at the Tower for this person – The Keeper of the Keys), the coroner is next, and then the local constabulary.

    Although it was very doubtful that this was indeed nefarious unless the bones were very old!

    They turned out to be the remains of a priest. Who had been a chaplain and was buried there in the mid 20th century.

    Then everyone sort of forgot where he had been laid to rest.

    As the area was close to the infamous ‘Block’ we had to wait until everyone had left.

    We rather gingerly, and carefully gathered what remains we could together.

    There followed a quiet re-consecration service.



    A New Power Station by the River Thames.

    A tad more mundane. Having just completed a large ‘cut & fill’ project, covering many acres.

    The area was the setting out ground for the entire power station project.

    All the metalwork for the project was stored on this area during construction for the new power station.

    Just as we prepared one area, about 30 acres for seeding.

    A military land rover pulled up, out jumped an officer and team from the bomb squad. I kid you not !

    They had been alerted by an old lady across the way (about 1/4mile).

    She had just recalled (after almost 35 years), that a flight of German bombers, had dropped their loads of bombs.

    Just where we were working during the War.

    Some of which had failed to explode…!Image

    So the ‘sappers’, were obliged to dig around for a few days, messing up our seedbed as you can see. T

    hey failed to find anything and left.

    Some ten years later, whilst preparing for the new Queen Elizabeth Dartford bridge, 15 or so unexploded bombs were indeed found in the hedgerow not 70ft from where the bomb squad had poked around and we had adjusted the levels by 3ft !!!

    Only in the USA… well maybe not!

    I was called over to the USA to visit a huge private estate.

    Moving truly huge trees 

    It was to see if we would like to be involved in a project involving large rocks and trees.

    A very wealthy gentleman was in a hurry to complete a fully mature landscape – he’d been working on the project for about 10 years, so it probably wasn’t that much of a hurry.

    When I arrived he was indeed pushing the landscape construction boundaries.


    This tree was about 600 tons in weight. Perched at least 15ft in the air. The “hardwood stacked columns” were due to stay in place.

    Then then the ground would be backfilled with soil. Irrigation would extend into the tree to a height of 40ft for a number of years, to assist with establishment.

    As we approached, the site manager, who I was traveling with, was asked by the foreman.

    If the position of this tree was ‘OK’. He was asked how far off the angle was – you can see the tilting in the hessian covering the rootball.

    The reply –  “about 6 inches”  The site manager then said, “no it had to be closer.”

    This one comment made me think that this project was due to be ongoing for a long time, one to avoid.

    Here’s a picture of an even bigger tree moving down the road on the same site……

    It took about 2 years to prepare each tree for lifting. We actually drove underneath this monster in a Ford F250.


    I know what fun……..


    Lambeth, South London

    Back in the days when unrest descended on London. (A polite euphemism for Riots in about 1980).

    We had an unusual project in Lambeth. – An area that had been called ‘The Peoples Democratic Republic of Lambeth – by it’s then ultra left-leaning leader ‘Red Ted’ Knight)

    It was to be a children’s play area with a huge wooden stockade,(long gone I suspect).

    As you can see from the picture the logs were huge some 16ft tall and at least 10-inch diameter.

    All pressure treated so they would last a long time.

    A small scuffle

    They had just been delivered to the site when there was a particularly vigorous riot.

    Cars were turned over and set alight, windows smashed, the police station attacked, that sort of thing.

    I was comfortably at home watching it all on television when my insurance broker called me in a panic at 7 am to ask how things were. 

    Then he told me he forgot to put my logs (those 16ft monsters) on ‘All risk” as I had requested the day before. 

    It’s funny how you get to hear about these sort of events if you engage the locals.

    Later that day I did go and visit the site.

    All was perfectly fine, apart from 4 or five burned-out cars in the surrounding streets.

    There was the little matter of 15 rapid deployment police vehicles with full riot shields carrying about 10 fully protected policemen surrounding my site.

    Speaking to a local he explained that “they would never harm something intended for their children !!”

    It could have been a right proper panic as we say!



    The Project

    The hardest part of the project was to figure out how to pick up and place these huge poles.

    We had to keep the tops level. A bobcat with a then newly added 4 in 1 bucket worked out just fine.

    Mind you, tracking over the soft ground in wet conditions makes a terrible mess.

    Destroys the soil structure, slows the progress down and makes a site look pretty dirty – best to try and avoid if possible.

    Log wall

    A project requiring some real ingenuity.

    Another prestigious project – A large roof garden on top of the Museum of London.

    It was tracing the history of London’s plants and gardens from the middle ages to the present day.

    As is always the case working in odd places there are a few obstacles to overcome.

    Restricted access

    In this instance it was access… the access was a smoke vent set halfway up a wall in an underground car park.

    The tunnel extended some 27ft, before the main vent went to the garden area.

    Our challenge to move over 400 tons of materials through and up to the roof without damaging all the cars around.


    Here’s a picture of the roof before… over the years it had become overgrown and very untidy.

    We have cleared all the old planting, set out the new layout.

    Then we laid the paving, lined the planting beds with a hardwood framing.

    In this picture, the soil ameliorate is being added to the flower beds.

    Our access is from the scaffold bridge we built from the basement fire access.


    I’m the guy with the bald head in the suit in the middle of the folks on the left.

    Yup had to wear a suit in the City of London. I drew the line at bowler hats!

    The Completed London’s Pride Exhibition

    Below is the finished result.

    Which was open to the public for 6 months. My company supplying the staff that took folks around the exhibit.

    This project covered close to 27,000 sq ft.

    ( well ok the ladders were removed and the gate swung back into place..)


    It was projects like these that honed our problem-solving skills.

    Do drop us a line if you would like to ask a question or have a request.. or take a more in depth look at my adventures in landscaping over the years




      Views: 431

    • Drives,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Landscaping Ideas

      Dri-lay Drives

      Dry – Lay Drives

      Dri-lay Drives

      We developed ‘Designer Drives’ almost 30 years ago..

      How it all started..

      My partners and I had worked for a London Parks Department. On some of the projects we were working on, we needed to use a strong paving material. At the time Marshalls( one of our suppliers) were testing a product called ‘Monolok’. It had been developed in Europe for use at bus stops. To prevent the heavy buses sinking into the tarmac, on hot days. These ‘monolok’ blocks were of differing sizes and worse ‘z’ shaped. This made them a nightmare to design with.

      They were though, a really clever idea. They interlocked together, without using mortar, this effectively meant they stayed in position, didn’t crack or sink, but could be ‘unzipped’ and then relayed – if say a pipe needed working on below.

      One day our sales contact rushed in with some new ‘brick-shaped’ grey blocks. He told us red would also be available soon. Did we want to try them? We immediately saw an opportunity. Using traditional bricks with a mortar bed required a heavy-duty brick version, worse it took days to point … see below.

      Natural brisk drive hand pointed

      This particular in and out brick driveway took 10 man-days just to point the bricks. Whereas the drive below took 4 hours to ‘sand in’ with kiln-dried silica sand.

       Dri-lay drive with curved side wall

      Saving so much time, significantly increasing our profits on each project. We were soon demanding new, more interesting colours.. here’s one using a brindle colour mix..

      New methods.

      Brindle colour drive

      It didn’t take us long to refine our own techniques. Adding our own recessed manhole covers. Canting the edges so homeowners knew where they were as they drove around their driveway. – The slightly raised edge looked great visually as well. Setting us apart from our competition.


      Raised edge

      Here a well constructed and cut in recessed cover… this time using a softer stock brick.

      Recessed manhole cover

      When well done it’s very hard to see the recessed cover, as in this picture.. there are two in the lower picture!


      Two recessed manhole covers

      New layout pattern

      We soon added a ‘fish- scale’ pattern using granite setts. Then a phorphery sett to our ‘Designer’ collection..

      Here’s some granite…much more expensive but they look superb !



      When using ‘natural’ products. Such as the granite and real bricks it is important to remember that they are often differing sizes. This means that it is very easy to lose the design module. If you have too big an area its important to have adequate changes in direction.

      The stock bricks below work for about a length of 1.8m ( 6ft). Then you need to add a break line or the pattern will start to wander off.

      Laying natural dri-lay bricks

      Below is a combination of natural granite setts and softer stock bricks – my favorite by far!

      Would you like to read more Landscape projects ?     – More Award winning projects   

      We would love to hear your thoughts and comments

        Views: 842

      • Award winning landscape Design & Build,  Landscaping Ideas,  Roof Gardens

        Green Roof

        Green Roofs

        Green Roof

        We soon discovered that the modular layout of the green walls worked superbly for Green roofs.

        So in 1994 we designed and built this award winning Green Roof in central London.

        Wooden pathway on Roof Garden

          Views: 327

        • Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  Path

          A winding garden path

          A Winding Garden Path

          A winding garden pathPergola and Well features

          We added these lovely features to an executive’s garden that was designed and built a number of years ago.

          They were part of a ‘Wish List’ we established with the client as we developed the masterplan.

          Planning really is the secret to a successful outcome for your project too. So here are a few pointers to help you.

          The Wish List.

          The secret to a beautiful landscape project is the wish list – here is a typical one we have developed over the years.

          Brief description of what you are looking for :

          How you use your garden :

          Do you have animals ? : Yes / No.

          Do children play in the garden ? : Yes / No.

          Do you like gardening ? : Yes / No.

          Do you like cutting grass ? : Yes / No

          Do you entertain in the garden ? : Yes / No.

          Do you like relaxing in the garden ?Yes/ No.

          What sort of Budget you would like us to Design
          to : ……………………………………………………
          (It helps enormously if we can have a figure to
          work to, we should be able to produce a Design
          within 10 percent )

          Some items to consider :
          Lawns. Yes / No

          Shrubberies Yes / No.

          Rockeries Yes / No

          Ponds Yes / No.

          Streams Yes / No

          Fish / Koi Ponds Yes / No.

          Paths Yes / No

          Patios Yes / No.

          Terraces Yes / No.

          Walls Yes / No.

          Ground contouring Yes / No

          Vegetable gardens Yes / No.

          Garden Features :

          Garden Shed : Yes / No.

          Power & Lighting Yes / No.

          Irrigation Yes / No.

          Summerhouses Yes / No.

          Greenhouses Yes / No

          Gazebo’s Yes / No.

          Pergolas Yes / No

          Seating Yes / No.

          Please add any other comments on the back of this sheet, the more we know the better the design.

          I would recommend that this is something the homeowners complete themselves without a salesmen/designer being present. You would be amazed at how many couples have different ideas!

          Remember to keep a little of the budget back as these things always cost more than you expect.

          Once you have a wish list, start to gather examples of the features you like from magazines. Taking pictures etc. Pretty soon you will have a good idea of what you would ideally like.

          Now it’s time to have that chat with the Designer or put pen to paper yourselves..

            Views: 322

          • Hedge,  Landscape Design & Build,  Landscaping

            Privacy Planting a Garden Hedge

            Garden Hedges,

            Hedges are often used to create a boundary between sections of gardens. They can help lead you around a garden. Although often their primary role is to act as a privacy barrier. A hedge can be a very useful garden tool.

            Personally, we’ve even used ones for security. BY choosing a suitably thorny subject, it can make it impossible for someone or something to get through the branches.

            The picture below, shows a hedge being used as an entrance into a garden, creating some privacy and yet leading the eye to the main terrace doors.


            A hedge can be grown using almost any plant material that will withstand constant clipping. The list of suitable plants is quite large. At the smaller end you have the traditional box hedging often used in kitchen gardens, or to surround ornamental flower beds, as seen below.


            Types of Plants to use.

            To create a less formal barrier, you could use forsythia – but remember that forsythia flowers on last year’s wood. So pruning and shaping should be restricted to just after flowering if possible. Hornbeam, Beech, Rose, Escallonia, Cotoneaster, Laurel, Yew, Leylandii, Thuja all make a nice hedge.Image

            Of course the height you desire the hedge, makes a difference in choice of plants to use as well.


            Heights of hedges.

            The height is also dictated by how often and by what method is used to keep the hedge clipped. As can be seen below, this hedge would take many hours of work to keep it in this condition.


            Trimming a hedge can be a simple job, with a handheld trimmer or a more serious project with lots big of equipment.


            Clearing away the cuttings

              Views: 348

            • Downloadable Help Sheets,  Landscaping,  Real Estate

              Outside Home Check List

              Outside Home Check List

              After starting my Real Estate career in England in 1971.

              I left for 25 years to development a multi award winning External Works Design & Build Company in London.

              Residential Properties

              Part of this was spent designing & building high end landscapes on residential properties in Southern England.

              We developed an initial review list of what to look for when considering the potential for properties, along with expected on going aftercare.

              Our construction teams focused on detailed hard & soft landscaping.

              Developing new ‘Designer Drives’ using a  ‘drylay’ system with block, brick and granite materials as early as 1982.

              Natural brick & granite
              Natural Engineering Brick Dive, in herring bone pattern
              Recessed manhole access covers cut into drylay brick paving

              Can you see the second manhole cover  ?

              Canted block edge that leads the eye around the design.
              Practically to let a driver know they were nearly off the driveway.

              Some larger homes benefitted from a less expensive softer appearance as below when we used a bonded ( with fibreglass resin) gravel drive with brick gulley detail.

              Triple brick drainage channel set around a bonded gravel drive
              Bonded gravel with brick gulley edge
              Bonded gravel with brick edge


              Whilst the list is by no means complete, I am planning on creating a section within this website to show the various techniques and ideas for homeowners.

              Porphery setts laid in a radius
              Granite paving to create a Mediterranean Style dry landscape

              I haven’t made any suggestion as to cost simply because each site is different.

              There are many factors impacting costs, not least access, planning and zoning, time of year, scope of works, current material & labor costs.

              I do hope though that this provides help in your overall assessment of the property you are reviewing.

              I will add sections each week with picture examples.




              Just send me an email or complete the form below with the Subject : “ Outside Forms”  adding what you are thinking about doing, I will be happy to make suggestions. 



                Views: 278

              • Landscape features,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Landscaping Ideas

                A natural stone patio and entertaining area

                Patios & Terraces

                A natural stone patio and entertaining area

                A Brick and Stone Terrace

                A lovely natural stone and brick patio, surrounding a conservatory.

                Today, I thought it would be fun to show you a series of before, during and after pictures of a patio/terrace construction.

                Mick and Steve who constructed this lovely terrace. Are extremely skilled craftsmen.

                If you look carefully at the stone cutting you will see how ‘evenly spaced’ all the joints are .

                Base Foundation.

                It all starts with good preparation on a stable foundation. In this case around 100mm ( 4 inch) of graded limestone base well consolidated. 

                If the ground is moist or subject to shrinkage it’s a good idea to add a geo – fabric beneath the limestone.


                You should make sure the finished height of the paving, is at least 150mm ( 6 inches) below the damp proof course set in the house brick walls.

                It is also a very good idea to create a fall away from the house to your drains, ( at least a 1 in 80 fall is required).

                Also, consider the need for allowing moisture around the house.

                If you are on heavy clay, it is a good practice to allow the clay sub surface to remain a little damp during the summer to prevent the ground ‘heaving’.

                First the walls and steps are constructed
                First the walls and steps are constructed.
                Note how clean the working area is
                Note how clean the working area is.
                Here Mick is carefully, pointing the natural stone, using a semi dry mixture of soft sand/sharp sand/ cement, in dry conditions to firmly point between the paving joints.
                Here Mick is carefully, pointing the natural stone, using a semi dry mixture of soft sand/sharp sand/ cement. Make sure the conditions are dry. Then firmly point between the paving joints.
                Raised brick seating area
                Raised brick seating area
                The completed terrace, with low walls to enable larger groupings , for entertaining. The gently curved wall naturally leads the eye around the establishing garden
                The completed terrace, with low walls to enable larger groupings , for entertaining. The gently curved wall naturally leads the eye around the establishing garden


                  Views: 150

                • A little light reading,  Landscape Design & Build

                  How it all began……..

                  If only we could all enjoy everyday scenes like this !

                  Beautiful landscapes take time, professionalism & commitment, from the owner, the designer, the builder and the maintainer.

                  Unlike almost any other purchase a homeowner can make, an external project involves nature, nature has a habit of seeking attention often !

                  So let’s take a moment to walk into my life as they say.

                  There is a well known expression ” The customer is always right” – this is very true. It is essential to build the customers trust, and not lose it, for once gone events have a habit of sending everything as we say ‘Pear shaped’ …. today, let’s stay positive and explore some experiences….

                  I only know ‘My’ experience, which to be fair has been fairly extensive, as well as fun, over all very enjoyable, with the odd heart stopping moment, which we will discuss later.

                  My school days, yes ,I was privileged, were at Bearwood College, it’s a school in a beautifully laid out estate. Designed by The Rev Gilpin back in the early 1800’s for John Walters the founder of ‘The Times’,  – some 500 acres,  at school we were expected to do Estate work on the huge grounds once a week to help maintain the  appearance of the school around the mansion house.

                  So as a youngster for 2 hours every week we played at aftercare of a huge Estate – I’ve just interviewed a colleague who did this for real as a Head Gardener of a 12000 acre estate, with among other things a 44 acre formal garden, this after years of designing spectacular award winning gardens, it’s a fascinating interview, as the estate is probably the busiest in the world with many events attracting over 100,000 visitors at a time, there is a motor racing and horse racing circuit within the grounds ! – you can hear Alan shortly on Growing Trends Podcast


                  Bearwood College

                  During my vacations to earn additional pocket money for school – the Tuck Shop was stocked with all things fattening, that us kiddies always preferred to real food ! No just kidding.

                  I worked with a friend in his dad’s business of Forestry – we planted new woodlands in the winter break, did more planting in the spring break, then weeded the newly planted woodlands with a long handled hook in the summer break – it was heavy work but very rewarding, the ploughman’s lunch with a pint of shandy at lunchtime sitting out in a pub garden in the summer was glorious, however toasting your homemade sandwiches over a small twig fire in the depths of winter, cold, soaking wet, drinking peppered hot bovril wasn’t quite the same, especially as your toes were on the verge of frostbite !

                   Even the summer days had their own special moments…

                  “That is  until you came across a wasp’s nest buried in the ground in your row as you cut down the foxgloves, brambles, and other assorted weeds  a swarm of angry wasp’s chased you along your row, which I might add was almost always a vertical hillside !  The really scary one was,  when a pheasant launched itself at you as you almost chopped its head off ! It used to take me a few minutes to calm down from that – you never ever hit the bird, or really saw it, but you sure heard it, and it was a huge blur as it flew past you.!”

                  After leaving school, working for a year at an Estate Agent’s introducing clients to property investments, helping sell houses and commercial properties all around the Thames valley.

                  I heard about a new landscape course at Merrist Wood College, was accepted, and spent three years really enjoying myself earning a College Degree in the process !

                  The main house

                  The course was so good, everyone of us was head hunted way before the course finished, well, now that I come to remember Bill, he had the new MGB sportscar, decided to buy a yacht and sailed off into the yonder, never to be heard of again !

                  Subsequently I discovered how much fun it is to have a yacht and go sailing !

                  I spend a further three or four years in a London Borough’s parks department learning some serious construction techniques – they called us Landscape technicians. There were six of us, in the group, when four of us left and the fifth joined the ranks of the clergy, one of the original six is still there so Ian must have 43 years of service ! It took almost 12 full time jobs to replace us !

                  We learned a huge amount, it was a great place to learn, with lots of variety, seriously engineered construction techniques, a dedicated to us work study team, so we knew how long items took to build.

                  Car Park

                  Overall though it lacked the ability to really expand ones horizons, beyond parks, open spaces & schools, so after three years it was time to move on.

                  Gravity Wall

                  Private practice was a completely different place, armed with the knowledge of how to build to an exacting commercial standard – something that held us in very good stead as we built our company, we did something probably unique at that time, we deliberately concentrated on Design and Build we won one award after another, ( currently 17).

                  We achieved this mainly because we created a standard working method, for our staff, we used standard details that we documented,. Most importantly we loved to experiment with new ideas.

                  New Ideas...?

                  No we didn’t do this ! This is a planning ‘item’ in Oxford, but I bet you took a couple of looks at it !

                  One of the first A-ha !!! moments was Dri-lay drives, it happened because a client asked for a brick drive with a dark mortar joint.

                  We duly designed and installed the drive – which took  two men 10 days just to point by hand !. This seemed a waste of potential profit , so recalling our local authority days the next one we tried was with the dri-lay method we had used in parks, the very first project saved us over 50% of the normal time to complete !

                  Natural brick with mortar joints

                  One of the design features we added, was a ‘canted’ brick edge, when ever possible this served two purposes, it was visually very attractive, catching the eye, creating a visual movement.

                  More importantly for the housewife, it was a superb aide memoir when driving onto as if you got too close to the edge the powered steering ‘tweaked’ enough to prevent you from driving into the landscape – this produced lots of customers from recommendations..

                  Below you see the first ‘dri-lay’ natural brick drive, we used a harder brick at first as the clay bricks tended to snap if you applied too heavy a vibration – after a while we figured using a rubberised mat would alleviate this issue.

                  The bonus to us, the first drive took 2 weeks to complete, this one was finished inside 4 days !

                  Dri-lay natural brick drive

                  I well remember driving  to a large concrete manufacturer of paving and blocks in 1984 and asking for help with our advertising budget – in those days the firms would pay a percentage of your advertising if you mentioned them. Anyway we went up to Derby from London !  gave a presentation on ‘Designer Drives” , it blew them away and we were politely told that the market didn’t exist. – a year later we had 5 crews constantly working building Dry lay drives, so many firms were starting to see the market potential. that we moved up to bricks.

                  Brindled block paving

                  By then we offered Block Drives, Brick Drives and for the really discerning Granite Sett drives – I have to say a granite sett drive looks quite exceptional

                  We also learned a valuable lesson, as we didn’t want to just build drives, we broadened what we offered clients, adding canted brick edges, specially designed recessed manhole covers, multi coloured drives- which then became ‘brindled.’ As the manufacturers caught on.

                  Canted block edge

                  Pictures of our drives appeared on advertising brochures from those very companies.

                  Our next Aha !!! moment was the recessed manhole cover, which we made ourselves at first..

                  Recessed covers

                  See if you can see the second one in this picture above! This project was one of the first where we used a specially made stock brick the yellow is the kiln dried sand we used to brush between the interstices.

                  Inserting recessed cover bricks

                  and the final result ..

                  Finished terrace

                  We designed & built lots and lots of drives…100’s of 1000’s of square meters in area.

                  45 degree herringbone

                  We learned some valuable time saving lessons, the best looking was always bricks laid 45 degrees from the road direction, they took longer and required much more cutting, so warranted a slightly higher charge, but they almost always looked better.

                  Natural bricks are not a standard size, so after about 6 ft (1.8m ) of one direction the joints tend to start running out of line so be careful how you set out. Oddly 45 degree herringbone actually helps to hide this visual effect.

                  Dri-lay brick driveway & entrance gates

                   I have to admit that it has, and continues to be, an awful lot of fun and enjoyment, not to mention the satisfaction that comes from achieving a well thought out and attractive scheme, or seeing a client years later saying how much they have enjoyed what was done, how well it has lasted.

                  A case of “Quality is remembered long after the price has been paid.”

                  This granite sett pathway is extremely hard wearing and yet very rustic looking.

                  I’ve always adopted a slightly different approach with private clients as I felt that most were not highly conversant with contractual law, or quantity surveying, always striving to give sound , honest advice, and maintain a high quality finish no matter what….

                  The rose arbor was connected to the house by the pathway.

                  How is it that some projects just look wonderful and others just ok ?

                  The answer is in the detail and the finish.

                  Pergola and well

                  There is also no doubt in my mind that, the more experience one has, the greater the ability to be able to produce , not only an award winning scheme, but also to ensure that the design is both workable and economically viable – of course if money is no object ? – I have personally worked on a few projects where money was not part of the equation, oddly they didn’t work out any better than a well designed and thoughtfully implemented scheme.

                  Some more A-ha !!! moments later , especially as we have grown longer in the tooth, we become smarter and now obtain patents for our “A-ha !! ” moments.

                  In the meantime do listen to our interviews at Growing Trends 

                  Drop me a line if you have a question or request.


                    Views: 125

                  • Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  Path

                    Paths in your Garden

                    Paths have been around awhile.


                    Granite sett path – these setts traveled from Portugal in the 1800’s as ships ballast and were then used on London’s streets.

                    They were a very convenient group of sizes namely ;-

                    • 4 inch x 4 inch x 4 inch
                    • 4 inch x 4 inch x 6 inch
                    • 4 inch x 4 inch x 8 inch

                    These regular sizes enable a module to be used, which makes the overall finished visual much more attractive. It’s also easier to lay – below you see a radius layout using just 4 inch x 4inch x 4inch setts.

                    Seeing as we have snow today, I thought it might be an idea to talk a little about paths and paving materials. Not all paving is equal as they say, concrete for instance is often more slippery than say asphalt ( there is a standard called CBR – California Bearing Ratio, this is basically a coefficient of slipperiness. Often only used for roadways and cars.)

                    So lets take a look at some paths


                    This gravel path works great, except when frost is just coming out of the surface, when it gets very sticky.
                    This gravel path works great, except when frost is just coming out of the surface, when it gets very sticky.

                    Gravel paths are both attractive, economical and if laid on a suitable base long lasting, a simple rake and roll often restores the path to its near original state. Keeping on top of surface weed growth is essential.

                    Paths should be at least 5ft wide to allow a couple to walk side by side..
                    Paths should be at least 5ft wide to allow a couple to walk side by side..although,in a garden this is often impractical.

                    This beautiful path leads all the way around the garden, making it a fabulous way to explore the differing views created.

                    This scented path uses camomile
                    This scented path uses camomile planted within the ‘p-shingle’.

                    We used old railway sleepers and camomile to create this pathway, the camomile grows and covers the widened joints. When you walk on the camomile a lovely scent rises up.

                    A more formal gravel path
                    A more formal gravel path – this is a white limestone and approximately 4ft 6 inch wide – just wide enough for two people to stroll (promenade) around together

                    Here the path is dressed in graded white limestone, this creates a much more formal garden for the client.


                    The next is designed in a series of straight lines using a brick module.

                    Here a zig-zag brick path leads from one section of the garden to another
                    Here a zig-zag brick path leads from one section of the garden to another

                    Using stock bricks that compliment the house colours is a good way to ‘link’ a garden design to a house. Walking on a larger sized clean gravel, is both fun due to the noise and a safety feature as you can hear someone or something approaching.

                    Here we used a larger stone size to add that lovely crunching sound as you walk on the path
                    Here we used a larger stone size to add that lovely crunching sound as you walk on the path
                    Natural random rectangular stone
                    Natural random rectangular stone leading to a bound gravel pathway.

                    Perhaps the most expensive form of path, the steps are laid in natural random rectangular stone, which is expensive to purchase and time consuming to lay..

                    Natural stone steps
                    Natural stone steps

                    It was a hot day when they completed these steps….

                    Probably the best material for steps
                    Probably the best material for steps

                    To finish with some of my favorite materials. I’ve always tried to use natural materials on projects as the colour does not fade with time, they are often long lasting – if laid correctly. They always look soft and blend in so well with the surroundings..but natural comes with a significant cost increase..

                    Mixed brick and random rectangular yorkstone patio

                    A quick word about patios, if you are using the patio for entertaining a normal table with four chairs requires an area of approximately 10ft 6 ins ( 3m) x 10ft 6 ins (3m) to accommodate the table and chairs.

                    Laying small unit sett paving of almost random size in a radiating pattern requires skill and patience....
                    Laying small unit sett paving of almost random size in a radiating pattern requires skill and patience….

                    Do send us a comment or a request

                      Views: 54

                    • 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

                    • Growing Trends,  Podcasts

                      Growing Trends is listened to in 48 countries, our new program is all about people like you, from all over the world.

                      We would like to hear from you with ideas, comments and suggestions for our shows drop us a line at chris@chriscoope.com

                      We have been making changes to Growing Trends our internet based radio show, which we started back in 2015


                      Time to Eat – All about growing Herbs & Vegetables

                      Gardenesque – Everything to do with Gardens & Landscapes

                      World Wide Wesponsibility – A more serious look at sustainability and how we might all help our planet.

                      Face Time – Interviews with experts on topics of interest

                      Book Reviews – Interviews with authors of books relating to the environment, nature and garden landscaping.

                      Perhaps we could interview you for our Face Time segment? …. just drop us a line and we will contact you.

                        Views: 172

                      • 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 www.grotrends.com
                        Listen at www.grotrends.com

                        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