• Home & Garden,  Landscape Design & Build,  Landscape features

    Creating mystery & intrigue with Timber Walls, Fences & Trelliage

    Last time we talked about paths.

    Today I thought it might be advantageous to discuss ‘Timber Walls & Fences’.

    We will include Trelliage as they all have a role to play.

    Helping to create a certain kind of mystery within a garden landscape.

    We’ve discussed hedges recently, so you can scroll down to that article if you would like.

    These ‘vertical materials’ are acting as a visual or physical  barrier between differing areas.

    This leads the eye on to a new discovery or perhaps just creating an interesting space.

    At some time fairly soon we should add ‘Green Walls’ which are gaining in interest and can look absolutely superb.

    I wonder how long it is before we develop these to grow vertical edibles ?

    Having designed and built a huge number of gardens over the years. We have gained valuable experience in what works best in a given situation.

    Using Timber.

    The garden below, was primarily designed to reduce aftercare. Taking care to keep the beautifully rustic boundary fencing, which blends in to both the surroundings and the new work so well.

    It was necessary, to repair the odd arris rail, a couple of fence posts and some slats, re-hang the side gate etc. Overall by keeping the original fence the rustic feel was, I think, you will agree maintained.

     

    Low hit and miss side fence with 6ft feather edged boundary fence & framed gate
    Low hit and miss side fence with 6ft feather edged boundary fence & framed gate

    Start with what is already there.

    It’s nearly always best to work with what is already there, rather than ripping out everything. My first task is always to look up and see how the tree canopy is. Then beyond the space we are working with.

    To see what impact, we may be making without perhaps realizing how a neighbor might view our endeavors.

    Very low maintenance, Mediterranean style
    Very low maintenance, Mediterranean style

    In small gardens complete barriers tend to make the garden smaller.  It is best to create more of an illusion of a barrier. This is often best created by using trellis. Here is an example that we stained black.

    A word of warning, trying to make a gate from trellis is fraught with problems if you do not add a full frame that is braced. When you add this, it tends to upset the look of the trellis, so think carefully before using as a gate. As without the frame the gate will change shape over time!

    Trelliage

    The trellis here was primarily to separate the more formal ‘Front Garden’ with the more relaxed ‘Play Garden’ at the rear and side of the property.

    Trellis

     

    To improve the strength of this gate we added metal framing at each corner, both inside and outside, it was only partially successful.

    A black stained trellis gate
    A black stained trellis gate

    If a more substantial barrier is required, say in the form of a structural wall to hold back a bank then there are a number of ways to achieve this.

    Low Timber Retaining wall.

    Here we used vertically set timber as a retaining wall. We did place a waterproof membrane behind the timber and a gravel pressure release drain. So as not to have unsightly stains running across the light colored paving.

    Low timber retaining wall
    Low timber retaining wall

    A quite pleasing effect can be achieved.

    The softer low timber wall looks at home here.
    The softer low timber wall looks at home here.

    Roof Gardens

    Roof gardens benefit from the light weight of timber. Its ability to be ‘modulised’, as can be seen here.

    Low timber walls on roof garden
    Low timber walls on roof garden

    Structural Timber Walls

    Some years ago, now, we discovered. Well perhaps I should say a local native of our area wanted someone to test a new product he had found lurking in New Zealand. So, as we had won a number of awards for our work, and our teams were well known, he persuaded us to try this product.

    Structural Timber Walls
    Structural Timber Walls

    It was fantastic. Ok I should add some provisos, it is treated wood, it lasts a very long time, I have pieces from 30 years ago that are still unblemished. Maybe bleached a little but otherwise fine. It will twist if not constructed correctly, although it is unzippable and thus fairly straightforward to repair. If you introduce plants into the wall, it looks amazing. Infact the plants protect the timber.

    Here’s a much taller one we completed.

    It is essential to use a structural engineer to carry out the necessary survey, and calculate the design criteria for these ‘Gravity Walls.’

    IMG_0591

     

    Once established they can look like this..

    Planting covering a timber wall
    Planting covering a timber wall
    The timber wall blends in so well
    The timber wall blends in so well

    Some years back we were even asked to build a play area within a timber stockade. The posts were about 16 ft long and required some ingenuity to place correctly.

    Treated timber barrier in play area
    Treated timber barrier in play area

    Here’s how we did it..

    Using a 4in1 bucket on a bobcat
    Using a 4in1 bucket on a bobcat

    Moving to more decorative uses, let’s explore trelliage and low walls..

    Wishing well feature with trellis back drop
    Wishing well feature with trellis back drop

    We sometimes add some whimsy to our designs. Here we used a rather deep drainage shaft, disguising it as a wishing well. To make it stand out we added a trellis surround to enable us to plant climbers to enhance the visual impact. Here its just been completed.

    Pergola with Wishing Well at end of path
    Pergola with Wishing Well at end of path

    Ornamental Trelliage

    Here we used a cloud trellis to add some movement to the landscape. To help hide the boring stepped trellis in the neighboring garden.

    Cloud trellis adds movement
    Cloud trellis adds movement

    Here the trellis has been painted white next to the house it gives a very clean look.

    Painting trellis white adds interest
    Painting trellis white adds interest

    Here we had a custom-made heavy-duty trellis, note the pencil edges soften the whole fence.

    Superb detail for trellis
    Superb detail for trellis
    The completed trellis barrier
    The completed trellis barrier

    Ann & I will spend a little time on the radio show talking about materials. When we interview our next guests who will be Designers.

    In the meantime, do come and listen at  Growing Trends

    We would love to hear from you with ideas, comments, suggestions and requests…

    Ann & Chris

      Visits: 323

    • 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.

      Image

      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.

      Image

      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.

      Image

      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.

      Image

      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

        Visits: 348

      • 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.

        Chris

          Visits: 125

        • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  Home & Garden,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  Planting,  Vegetable Growing

          Fall & Spring Program

          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.

          mums

          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

          Allotment

          .Gardenesque – All about gardens & landscapes.

          The softer low timber wall looks at home here.

          World Wide Wesponsibility – A little more serious about sustainability and how we can be good custodians of our planet.

          City center Green Roof

          Face Time – Interviews with experts on topics of interest.

          Let's dance !

          Have an idea for an interview ? send us an email and we will be in touch.. info@grotrends.com

          "We need more plants"

          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 info@grotrends.com

          Visits: 77

        • Book Reviews,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Podcasts

          Could we ask for a little help from you?

          An exhibition garden

          I’ve been really surprised at all the positive comments the site has been generating from everyone – Thank you all so much, it’s fun to write, improves my awful spelling, maybe my grammar as well ?

          You can let me know on that one !

          Some of you asked if I would make it possible to donate on this site, I’ve tried to avoid that, as well as adverts as I was trying to be impartial, with the content.

           

          As you may know we do have a fun internet radio show, where we interview folks from around the globe about their Gardens & Landscapes.

          Find some inspiration for your Yard today…

          When we started this radio show the aim was to find interesting people who had a passion for their Garden or Landscapes. Little did we know what would happen. In just a few months we have an audience stretching across the globe in 43 countries.

          ww.grotrends.com

          We soon added a web site www.grotrends.com to provide details of schedules, information on guests and sponsors, and a growing information area with details of techniques, ideas and examples of projects.

          Working to complete an exhibition garden

          The show Growing Trends concentrates on the clients, the designers, the creators, the maintainers and the experts that help them, we would welcome any suggestions on who we should contact – the schedule is filling quickly, which brings me on to how you can help.

          Note how clean the working area is

          We have two one hour shows a day seven days a week, with a little funding help we can update the interviews more often, and tell the story of you, or your friends work, or your garden or landscape.

          Can you help us in just a small way ? Contributing just $5 ?

          Here’s the link to StartSomeGood   the crowdfunding source we are using for this fund raising campaign

          A Japanese style garden exhibition

          Growing Trends is fun, friendly, informative, interesting, amusing & entertaining.

          A project in Florida

          This one acre pond has a water change almost once per hour !

          A final interesting project from just outside New York. This fully structural gravity wall is almost 27ft high !

          Fully structural timber wall

          Note the access is less than 4ft !

          We really would appreciate your support, so we can interview maybe you, or your colleagues or friends, across the globe – thank you all for your support & comments.

          You can also find us on Facebook 

          Ann & Chris.

           

          Visits: 102

        • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Nature,  park,  Vegetable Growing

          Planting plans made easy to use at home!

          It’s been 40 years since I first grappled with a traditional planting plan. All those lovely latin names – like Fagus sylvatica,  Fritillaria meleagris, etc.,

          Hand drawn

          In the drawing office, it was a matter of using a thick graph paper so the electric eraser didn’t make lots of little holes in the paper as we repositioned plants, or corrected the many mistakes or changes in mind. Sometimes we used a plant stamp, then labelled by hand. As you can see interpreting the labels isn’t easy.

          The whole process was time consuming, difficult to make into a quality finished drawing.

          This next version once CAD was introcuded is a combination of hand drawn and CAD drawn, easier to interpret, but still not easy to set out.

          Using CAD system
          Using CAD system

          On  site, in those days these were cumbersome beasts, usually printed on dyeline, so it was dark, difficult to read with scribblings and such in the margin, fragile, and ruined once wet. Wrapping in plastic sort of helped, cutting into smaller sections then laminating was better..

          Checking off plants

          Wielding  one of these around on a damp morning picking out the plants, with the planting foreman, and then placing took for ever.

          Setting out plants

          Trying to mark off those plants you had placed and then moving on to the next batch, with a few areas missing….

          For some odd reason even though the nursery managed to price  all the plants, they never seemed to be able to deliver them all to site completely in one go, or even to the company yard, so the whole process was both time consuming, expensive and worse annoying to a client who by now had had enough of three or five members of staff working in what was their space.

          I hear a gentle nod of agreement or perhaps sigh of frustration?

          It got so bad that we used to change our standard estimate to something like..

          ” To carefully prepare ground, incorporating peat and fertilizer at each planting station, to supply & plant  in  ‘xxx’ number of flowering & ornamental shrubs, carefully watering in on completion, then applying a 50 mm depth of planting mulch”

          Here’s a plan without specifics..in this case a veggie garden area.

          An Isometric plant plan.

          This gave us a contractual escape clause, but wasn’t what we wanted to portray to our clients. We even tried to restrict the planting selection to plants we knew we could obtain, but designers & clients have pet likes and dislikes being restrained to just a few varieties caused all manner of objections!

          We even tried an even more generic look – with areas just designated for planting.

          Plan with Artist's Impression

          We also found most of our clients actually really wanted to do some of the work themselves, the idea of planting was often the most appealing, as the ground was prepared, the turf laid and all the ‘hard’ structural stuff was completed.  The feeling was that just a bit of planting wouldn’t take long and they could then say ‘we did this ourselves’….

          There was one small issue, understanding the ubiquitous planting plan. Setting out plants in the damp, with a tape, scale rule and a large piece of paper was a task best left to the experts.

          We solved this problem with our Weekend Planting Grid. A really easy to understand ‘garden bedding system’. Today we even have this simple system patented, it’s even incorporated into one of the more easy to use CAD programs.

          Photo Realistic Design

          The system cuts setting out times in half, for anyone, acts as a  landscape fabric or paper mulch, reducing weeds and watering and makes the whole process as easy as 1,2,3 ! – costing only marginally more than just a landscape fabric.mulch.

          No longer do you need a setting out plan, just a plant position is all that is required.

          New style Planting Plan

          It makes it very easy to place the plants in position, so now any combination of annual, bulb, corm, perennial, shrub, even tree  can be used with little risk of them being placed incorrectly. In fact there is no need for a planting plan at all ! Just a series of grids will do. The fabric is left to act as a landscape mulch mat, preserving water and reducing weeds, all it requires is a 2 inch layer of mulch to keep attractive.

          Setting Out Grid

          If you use the CAD program you can design your own arrangement , create them with photorealistic images and then print out their positions. The CAD program automatically generates the grid layouts, positions the plants, prints out a planting position list, even prints out a plant label with position for the plant pots, then generates a quotation and plant care notes – amazing really !

          Difficult to set out designs are now easy…

          Use four to make a quick 'Knot Garden"

          Complicated Herb and Veggie gardens are a breeze. With positions shown on a simple patented grid system.

          potager-3b

          Even more fun is the simple PicaGardi that you can download and use it’s available on the iTunes store, Google Play and Amazon

          We are planning a Growing Trends radio show just about design and designers soon, we would love to hear your comments, suggestions & ideas.

          Ann & Chris

          Visits: 60

        • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  park,  Vegetable Growing

          Would you like to be part of our show?

          Fall Colours

          Ann & I have been simply amazed by the interest in our blog & our Growing Trends   (click on Growing Trends to go to the site)  radio show. Thank you all so much, we have been listened to or our blog read in over 40 countries in just the last three months.

          Autumn Planning

          As we plan the next series of shows & blogs, we thought we would ask you our readers & listeners if you would like to participate.

          Fushia

          So, if you would like to be part of the show, all we ask is for an interesting ‘garden or landscape’ project,preferably with before & after pictures, together  with a short note about how you were involved in the garden or landscape. – we do have a small request to ask.

          Please could you send your description in English ?

          We will pick a selection and the very best responses, who will be invited to participate in some short interviews for a show.

          mums

          Some suggestions to get you started.

          Some of our more successful blogs have been when we have shown ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures of projects. Here are a few to give you some ideas, Let’s start with the usual mess that greets the team. Here’s a before picture just as the machinery arrives and the builder leaves…….

          Before

          Here’s how we were able to transform the mess above into a peaceful oasis, of course everything has to dry out first before you can work the magic,  then the skills of the team are paramount to obtaining a ‘finish’

          Front drive

          This next one, is actually in a book by Prince Charle called ‘A Vision of Britain’, we also received an award for the work. The very heavy clay was not easy to work with. As usual the builder created a huge mess.

          Ok your turn !
          Ok your turn !

          The landscape architect for the project, Ian Doughill is seen carrying out a post completion inspection. We maintained the site for a couple of years to ensure complete establishment.

          After working a little magic !
          After working a little magic !

          This exhibition site is both world famous, fun, hard work, but immensely satisfying to participate in.. a before picture of the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s not your usual mess this time, just an organizational nightmare, with so many firms attempting to bring in supplies and complete their superb work on time.

          Chelsea Flower Show 'Before'
          Chelsea Flower Show ‘Before’

          The outlines of the garden can just be seen, with the low wall taking shape on the left hand side. We build a full 6ft (1.8m ) high retaining wall with 3ft (1.2m ) side wall to ‘enclose’ the garden.

          The back wall is almost completed.
          The back wall is almost completed.

          The space has been transformed in three weeks for just four days of exhibition, when over 110,000 people will visit and millions view on television

          . The completed garden

          If you have some ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures you would like to share, Ann & I would like to hear from you, just send us a reply with a some contact information on the form below.

          We are always looking for sponsors to help with the running costs, this year we thought we would try a small campaign on StartSomeGood.

          Our radio show is starting it’s fall funding campaign you can find details at Growing Trends .

          Ann & I thank you all so much for your support and comments.

          Visits: 32

        • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  park,  Vegetable Growing

          From “Concept to Completion” – a complete project!

          Ever wondered how a landscape project is conceived, designed, planned and then implemented?

          Completed Project

          We have created quite a few over the years, so we thought we would attempt a trial of one here that we did some years ago.

          There is an ulterior motive for this, Ann & I would like to attempt to follow a project  from ‘Concept to Completion’ on our radio show ‘Growing Trends’ 

          This project started because the owners, a young couple, were starting a family, and wanted the swimming pool that dominated their back garden removed, partly for safety reasons and partly because as you can see it didn’t leave much space for a user friendly garden.

          The Garden Before

          The first step was to survey the garden, in this case we needed to take fairly accurate levels to enable us to quantify the amount of work to do.

          This has a number of benefits ;-

          When working in tight areas , there was only a side gate access, it is very wise to design in such a way as the least amount of material is taken away or brought in to complete a project – all that hauling is wasting the clients budget.

          Secondly it is jolly hard to accommodate too much material when the entire site is being worked on.

          Here you can see the access restrictions

           With such restricted access the design whilst needing to be imaginative, had to be practical and effective.

          So we folded the pool in on itself

          The solution was to use the existing access path level as the main level,  demolish the pool surrounds, break out the base of the pool, to allow for drainage, then backfill in layers the excavated  pool , paving and surplus material  to bring the levels up to create a much larger patio.

          Enlarged patio

          We even salvaged some of  the brick wall to mix in with the new london stocks to create the imposing planter that acts as a statement as you walk around the side of the house to the rear garden.

          Planter

          The new paving extends all the way around the house to give continuity, we added a stock brick edge to the paving so we could link the low black stained timber retaining walls, the raised patio diaz, and the black stained timber edged step to the rest of the garden.

          Brick edged surround

          The stained timber edge is protected with polythene sheeting and has a gravel pressure release drain set behind, to prevent water incursion onto the light coloured patio stones, which would stain very easily otherwise.

          Much enlarged patio

          There is now a much enlarged patio area ideal for young children to play on, which is both safe and secure.

          Step detail

          The step detail is modulised to provide continuity and ease of use when walking on, planting the edges will over time soften the strong straight lines and allow the planting to seamlessly flow into the step area.

          Planting bank

          The steep banks are now lost in the planting, supported by the low stained timber wall, creating a feature rather than an aftercare issue as before.

          Completed Project

          The completed project, is much easier to maintain, has a huge amount of safe space, opens the garden up, into an interesting useable space, for play, entertaining , whilst giving more light to the inside of the house and a feeling of spaciousness.

          You can hear Ann & Chris talking to garden owners and the experts that help them on Growing Trends ( just click this link) it will send you to our internet radio show.

          If you have an interesting garden or story to tell do drop us a line, we will get back to you in a few days.

          We would love to hear from you..

          Ann & Chris

          Alternatively take a look at our web site at www.grotrends.com it’s packed with helpful hints.

            Visits: 82

          • Edibles,  Gardening,  gardens,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  Vegetable Growing

            Why natural materials invariably look superb.

            There are a number of reasons why, let’s start with this picture of a French Restaurant not that far from Lyon.

            A welcoming French Restaurant

            Natural materials, always weather well, they tend not to lose their colours so quickly, being much less affected by UV light. The wood for instance changes colour slowly,  blending into the other colours, with a softer patina. The natural stone stays basically the same colour apart from the addition of dirt and moss etc., the rendering isn’t really natural, it was something started in the 1950’s for some reason in villages throughout France, some have returned to a more natural stone look by hacking the rendering off, others as here have allowed the rendering to weather and blend in.

            Of course it helps to have the walls half covered in virginia creeper, with the windows festooned with trailing geraniums. The over all effect is soft on the eye and pleasing.

            When selecting materials for a project, it’s always a good idea to see what natural ones are available first.

            A selection of natural materials

            All the materials in the picture above are ‘natural’  as you can see they have a softer look to them.

            They  ‘weather’ in much better and seem to last longer.

            Bound Gravel Driveway

            This beautiful driveway was constructed with natural bricks to form the rain water gulley run offs – it actually took three bricks to form the channel.

            The top wearing surface is a double coated natural dried Pea Gravel that has been applied with fibreglass rovings and a special binder to form an impervious surface. Surfaces like this need to be re applied every 5 years or so to keep up appearances.

            The beauty of such a surface is that the gravel isn’t likely to ‘fly around’ much, and the surface lasts longer because it is more or less water proofed.

            Gravel and granite path

            This attractive Gravel and Granite surface, will basically never change colour, it will always looks warm and inviting, sure it will need some aftercare to keep weeds and encroaching plants at bay, but it will be the same in twenty years time as it is today.

            Secret Garden

            This secret garden, is really easy to construct, its basically larger gravel rolled into the soil, with stepping stone flat rocks leading to a a stone bench with a small statue acting as the main focal point… a great place to listen to Growing Trends  our downloadable internet radio show.

            Small bridge & low rockery

             

            Here we used a low natural stone rockery with a low bridge across a pathway around the garden, as a starting point for an artificial stream, adding differing sized stones and rocks into the stream bed to create a natural appearance.

            We will be having an interview  with an ex Head Gardener of one of England’s great Estates shortly.

            Do listen to Growing Trends and let us know what you would enjoy hearing about.

            Ann & Chris

             

             

            Visits: 28

          • Amusing events over the years

            Those Opps! moments, never Assume !

            Today you can chuckle at my expense !!!

             

            Water Fall

            Designing & Building award winning landscapes has  been a very rewarding, satisfying, fun filled occupation, of course there have been days one prefers to have skipped or passed by, yet more where looking back it was quite amusing now – I’m sure you too have a few you could share with the growing readers too.

            So Ann and Chris  are making you an offer you cannot refuse? – well perhaps you can !

            Here is the challenge.  If you have an amusing enough incident and you share it here by way of a comment,

            Ann & I will call you ( we will have to keep this to an English conversation for now) , we will give you at least 5 minutes to describe in your own words the Opps! moment, you may also give your business a gentle plug!

            Hows that ?

            So let’s get the ball rolling with some of those Opps ! or “Out take” moments that  have happened to me.

            “Hook – Up”

            The first that I remember wasn’t actually related to horticulture it was whilst working during a summer recess from college, working as a summer assistant lock keeper,on the River Thames at  Mapledurham, which I think is in Oxfordshire,  as I recall a quite well known movie was being filmed at the time called  “The Eagle has Landed”, just across the reach from the lock.

            An example Thames River lock

            On this particular day, there was lots of action and noise from the film set, lots of tourist and regular cruisers plying up and down the Thames. The lock is quite large – from memory nearly 200 ft long and about 16ft wide with a 5 ft  rise and fall. Because we were busy we were packing in the boats. Anyway, having filled the lock with boats I opened the sluice gates to let the water out and let the lock water level fall around 5 ft, as this happened I was distracted by the filming. the next minute I turned to see all the boats hooked up with no water beneath! … not a good position to be in !

            It took some time to undo the resultant mess….

            “Splash”

            Client Pool
            Client Pool

            Sticking to water… one night I was making a visit to a potential client on the way home, it was around dusk, the home owner was a banker, they had a lovely home in Chislehurst, Kent. After a brief talk we took a short stroll around the garden as dusk was fading, it was a long time but it was quite dark by the time we headed back to the house.

            For some reason, I was talking to the client side by side one moment and the next I was treading muddy water, tearing though a rather decrepit swimming pool cover having missed the dog leg steps on the poolside.

            The water soon reached my waste, and my suit took on a rather unusual color and smell..meanwhile the client rushed indoors exclaiming I had fallen into the pool, which brought the whole family out giggling !.. somewhat soaking I drove the last 15 miles home. We ended up completing the project, one of the requirements was to break out the miscreant swimming pool !

            “Mud Slide”

            Lake

            On another occasion we were contracted to dredge a small lake and construct a weir. ( a pond is in my definition an area of water in which you can throw a stone over it to land on the other bank. A lake is where the stone falls into the water). So dredging a lake is a task, requiring a variety of big toys… in this case we arranged with the local waterways folks to block ( legitimately) the upper inflow channel, allowing  the water in the lower lake to fall around 8-12 ft which would allow the use of a piece of equipment similar to a dragline.

            Unfortunately, whilst we knew the plan, the water folks knew the plan and the parks department knew the plan, nobody had told the security guys – who “unblocked’ the upper lake outfall late in the night, thinking some vandal had blocked up the outfalls !

            So after about two days of working we returned  in the morning, to find the lake full of water , the equipment  marooned 50 ft out in the lake,with their tracks buried and the mud slowly engulfing the cab.. some drastic action was needed, a very heavy lift truck was used to winch out the equipment, and we changed our method  of removing the silt,to pumping the now slurry into a temporary  lagoon to dry out before carting away.

            “An up-lifting experience”

            The next was a tad more mundane,  well it started that way at least. We had just completed a large ‘cut & fill’ project covering many tens of acres on a setting out ground for a new power station, we were preparing one area of about 30 acres for seeding when suddenly the bomb squad pulled up, I kid you not…

            Here is an English sapper exploring on the site !

            Image

            Apparently they had been told that a lady across the way ( about 1/4mile, you can see the block in the distance) had just recalled a flight of German bombers had dropped their loads of bombs  in the 2nd world war ,just where we were working  some had failed to explode…Image

            so they dug around for a few days, messing up our seed bed and left, when they failed to find any …..

            Some ten years later, whilst preparing for the new Queen Elizabeth II, Dartford bridge,  the said 15 or so unexploded bombs were indeed found in the hedge row not 70ft from where the bomb squad had poked around !!!

            It was a very useful do not ASSUME moment … you know the meaning  don’t Assume as it makes an  “ASS out of U and ME”

            Enjoy the week !

            Ann & Chris

              Visits: 95

            • Edibles,  Food,  Gardening,  gardens,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature,  park,  Vegetable Growing

              Growing Trends that have been around awhile….

              Let's dance !
              Let’s dance !
              When Ann & I started  ‘Growing Trends’ the web site, blog and radio show, we weren’t sure how to engage all of you. It seems a little wit, the odd anecdote and should I say a touch of knowledge has helped us enormously.

              In a very short time we have built an audience of readers, listeners and fellow Horticulturists, they have come from :-

              United States, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, Columbia, Germany ,United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, Romania, France, Netherlands, Jamaica,Barbados, Egypt, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, India,  Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea,

              We are just stunned…  thank you all so much. Please if you have time send us a picture of your favourite space, garden or landscape with a few notes, we would love to hear from you.

              Today, as we have a holiday weekend here in the USA, it seems that our blog should be a little in this spirit, so I’m going to try and find a bunch of pictures of projects we’ve completed along with pictures of unusual items used in the urban landscape that perhaps some have not seen before.. hope you enjoy them..

              So let’s start with a really big tree being  moved, it was one of many on this site, weighing some 600 tons and approximately 60ft tall!

              Really it's that large !

              One of my favorites a flower clock in Geneva, Switzerland.

              Geneva, Switzerland
              Geneva, Switzerland

              This one was ‘snapped’ in Amsterdam, it’s an old cannon, now serving as a vehicle bollard !

              An old cannon being used as a bollard

              The next is fairly common – creating a bubble fountain using an old natural millstone wheel.

              Original granite millstone fountain
              Original granite millstone fountain

              This method completely softens a brick pier and makes it look ageless – we used a single canted brick on each corner, and added a double layer of tiles ‘Creasing Tile’ before the soldier course, the resultant ‘shadow line creates interest and helps the wall to ‘weather’ much better.

              Brick Pier with creasing tile
              Brick Pier with creasing tile

              This one is much harder to do, it’s a circular patio of natural setts – they tend to be slightly different sizes. When laid like this, in a circular pattern creates a feeling of movement and space, in what is a fairly small area.

              Small setts laid in a radiating pattern
              Small setts laid in a radiating pattern

              When you have a natural random wall it is always hard to create a ‘finish’   , we solved this by bonding a brick coping to match the drive brick edge.

              Brick Coping Course
              Brick Coping Course

              What is really interesting is, if you look really carefully you can see the brick coping running into the driveway as the wall ends, this looked so good, the red tarmac ( which is quite expensive) helps with the overall effect.

              Driveway
              Driveway

              Many years ago, we needed to find away to create ‘Raised planters’ on a roof that were exceedingly light weight, contained and yet attractive. We think we succeeded with these specially made by us artificial rock faced grp planters. – we won an award for the project , which was fun !

              Artificial Rocks
              Artificial Rocks

              Some 30 years ago we started building gravity walls with ‘TimberGrid’ , then we thought let’s add some plants, it worked great..!

              Treated Structural Green Wall
              Treated Structural Green Wall

              It wasn’t long before they started to ‘Grow’ well you know if you try hard enough it becomes a ‘Trend ‘

              Tall timber gravity wall
              Tall timber gravity wall

              Sometimes it’s fun to experiment, so here we came up with a ‘curved’  wall

              Creating movement
              Creating movement

              Finally a simple picture on a very clear day !

              Looking Up
                                     Looking Up

              Hope  you have enjoyed,  do drop us a line

              or visit our website at www.grotrends.com

              or listen to our internet radio show  Growing Trends

              Ann & Chris

               

               

              Visits: 70

            • Growing Trends,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Landscaping

              A rare moment of peace in the perfect haven of a landscaped garden

              Classic English Garden
              Classic English Garden

              “The commitment & sheer hard work required to achieve career success nowadays takes a heavy toll on our lifestyles. All of us need to counterbalance a busy working schedule with the right level of relaxation. For centuries gardens have been places of retreat and contemplation where our minds, detached from everyday problems, can resolve conflicts and plan confidently for the future.”

              “A rare moment of peace in the perfect haven of a garden brings us renewed harmony with nature”

              A short stroll to the patio
              A short stroll to the patio

              There is something rather special about returning home from work , seeing your beautiful landscape, perhaps pouring a glass of wine, or beer, then taking a walk around your landscaped garden enjoying the trees, flowers, shrubs, all whilst listening to the insects & birds, before an evening meal.

              This tends to be a bit of a chore when the temperature is over 90f with sweat  dripping off  your forehead with each sip, however once the temperature falls to below 80f  it is very much more relaxing.

              It’s a great time to water the container plants ,dead head the flowers, check on the veggies , check on the water levels of the ornamental ponds, maybe even pull the odd weed from your immaculate borders.  You do have immaculate borders?  I mean what would the neighbours say ?

              Garden Pond
              Garden Pond

              Finally stroll back to the main terrace to complete or restock the beverage..mmmm ‘if only’ I hear you say, alternatively pop into a nearby park at lunchtime for a few minutes peace and relaxation.

              Soft brick & natural stone terrace

              Unexpected benefits of gardening

              Research is now emerging that suggests that digging in the soil is actually beneficial, as the microbes found in real soil are the very ones that help us feel good . – Perhaps its time for us to develop adult sand pits?  No just kidding, all that yucky sand traipsed indoors would wreak havoc with the carpets,  “She who must be obeyed” would read us the riot act.

              I do think that , garden landscapes are for using, they are not like a trophy, or picture hanging on the wall, they are alive, constantly changing ,constantly in need of nurturing, feeding, watering ,tending  but above all else enjoying.

              What better way to enjoy than to actually get into the midst of the garden and soak up all those positive ions?

              A maturing landscape
              A maturing landscape

              This beautiful award winning garden was developed some years ago for a very busy client, who had a passion for orchids , immaculate lawns, with filled to the brim shrub borders.

              Just using white summer bedding is very effective in such a large garden

              We were often asked how it was that most lawns had these long lasting “stripes”. The secret is two fold, first the mower used has to have a roller behind the cutting blades, it can be a rotary mower, although the best is obviously a cylinder mower, also the roller should be the drive method for the mower .

              The second is to make sure that each time you cut , you turn 90 degrees from the last.

              The advantage of the cylinder mower is, usually you are cutting finer grass, and it needs to be quite short, a rotary mower tends to tear the grass blades and thus causes bruising, so it never looks as good, but it is able to cut much tougher grass which is usually also much higher in length.

              A large main lawn
              A large main lawn

              Sometimes when I wished to get away from the constant ringing phone , a product of having great teams, being in constant demand and being easy to contact, I would head out to a clients garden and actually spend an hour or two cutting their lawn for them, although it earned me the reputation of ‘The Gardener in a Suit” as I always wore a suit and tie to work !

              It was a great way to recharge the batteries !

              The complete lawn
              The complete lawn

              Come listen to our interviews at Growing Trends they are all about these amazing folks with a passion for landscape gardening, the experts that help them and the wonderful folk that create them.

              We would love to hear from you too….if you visit us at www.growingtrends.org please spend a moment to click our Facebook Like !

              Ann & Chris

              Visits: 107