• 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

      Hits: 323

    • 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

        Hits: 327

      • 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

          Hits: 347

        • 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

            Hits: 125

          • Home & Garden,  Landscape Design & Build,  Landscapes & Gardens

            Are you planning to add to your landscape?

            Winter Time

            As autumn and winter move in, with leaves changing into many hues of red and gold before falling to the ground.

            Fall Colours

            The weather starts to turn chilly, the growing season is  coming to an end or is it?

            Some plants will head towards dormancy, others  being more frost resistant will provide the last gasps of color, before winter sets in.

            mums

            For the luckier ones living in warmer climates, not so much changes.

            If only we could all enjoy everyday scenes like this !
            If only we could all enjoy everyday scenes like this !

            Climate Change

            For some others the climate has changed enough to wonder if it’s time to convert the ubiquitous lawns.

            Sometimes I would call in and cut the clients grass to get away from the office.
            Are we going to have to change this view?

            Maybe into something more akin to a dessert landscape or perhaps a Mediterranean or Xeriscape landscape.

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

            Time to Plan

            Now is a great time to start planning any changes as you can follow some simple guidelines.

            First establish a budget. Now look at the existing and consider what you might want to change and why.

            Write down a wish list of likes and dislikes, add if I could I would do this, etc,.

            Design

            Now it’s time to decide if you want to do the work your self? 

            Or find a contractor to start gathering information on materials and costs etc.

            Or engage a designer who can work with you to produce a plan and a program?

            Laying natural dri-lay bricks

            Each method has it’s pros and cons. Is often decided by available budget or available time to allocate to the project.

            My experience has been that most busy people are also quite successful and can therefore afford to engage a designer

            They also tend to like to know what they are getting into before they start , so a design works great for them, they also like detail.

            Landscape Plan
            Landscape Plan

            Practical people can often gain most from actually working on the project themselves.

            They tend to be natural problem solvers and enjoy the discovery of ‘how to achieve something’

            The best advice I learned was to consider what you would like in say 5 years time, as this is often the time when any changes are going to look their best.

            It is also a time to consider where you may be in your own life cycle, for example age of children, type of free time available etc.

            It's fun here...
            It’s fun here…

            There is a “Growing Trend’ towards sustainability. 

            Growing one’s own food.

            Now is a great time to look at all the methods available and how much time should be allocated to such endeavors.

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

            Listen to ideas from experts at Growing Trends

            Hits: 120

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

            How do you see garden landscapes evolving ?

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

            Natural brisk drive hand pointed

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

            Hydraulically installed irrigation
            Hydraulically installed irrigation

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

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

            Park  in Paris
            Park in Paris

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

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

            A Green Wall

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

            Treated Structural Green Wall
            Treated Structural Green Wall

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

            Wooden pathway on Roof Garden
            Wooden pathway on Roof Garden

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

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

            Herb & Vegetable gardening is becoming very popular today.

            Weekend Garden Kit from Picagardi

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

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

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

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

            Hort Cuisine Grid
            Hort Cuisine Grid

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

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

            Potager 1

            So here are a few questions……

            What new ideas have you seen recently?

            What would you like to see developed?

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

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

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

            or follow our internet radio show at www.grotrends.com

            Hits: 56

          • 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.

             

            Hits: 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

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            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.

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          • 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.

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              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

               

               

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            • 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

               

               

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