• 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

      Visits: 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

        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

        • 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

          Visits: 120

        • 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,  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

        • 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

        • Landscape Design & Build,  Landscapes & Gardens,  park

          Have you taken the kids to a park recently?

          This classic park surrounding the simply stunning Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is in Kansas City.

          It is a great place to start – as long as the temperature are being kind !

          Anyone for Badminton?
          Anyone for Badminton?

          The museum has an exhibit which kids would really enjoy, as long as they are accompanied, it’s a glass Labyrinth.

          Picture credit to Chris Smart
          Picture credit to Chris Smart

          In other countries..

          Alternatively, if you were across the pond in say Paris, France.  You could visit a more modern looking park. I think this is  Parc de Villette

          Park in Paris
          Porte de Villette, Paris

          or perhaps a more tropical park in say Honolulu.

          A stunning park in Honolulu
          Honolulu

          Sometimes just the local school has a pleasant surprise in store, as this school in south London achieved.

          A school quiet garden
          A school quiet garden

          Most parks are designed and built to a  high engineering standard. They can last a long time without needing costly repairs.

          Over the years we designed & built a huge array of children’s play areas, mostly in parks or on community housing sites, occasionally in a school, the one above was a really fun project, quite a few years ago now.

          The idea was to have a theme for the closed in ‘quiet’ area, so the architect suggested a ‘Kentish Riverbank’  We developed a dry river bed using kidney stones set in a flowing pattern, added a jetty to link the ‘Oast’ house from the ‘Kentish Barn’ , included a loading ramp – to enable wheel chair access. 

          Then created a few sail boats with trees for masts and sails. All the planting was native to a Kentish riverbank along the dry river, with more architectural plants around the edge.

          We added a ‘hump back bridge’ in natural stone & a fallen oak tree, from years back when there was a very large storm.

          A Quiet School Garden
          School Garden

          One of the art teachers had the kids create a whole series of ceramic fish which we set into the river bed,  they make excellent brass rubbings !

          Ceramic Fish for Riverbed.
          Ceramic Fish for Riverbed.

          Children love to interact with nature, they also enjoy movement. They oddly like some risk. You will notice though that here we kept away from moving objects as this was a ‘Quiet Garden’ .

          City parks in recent years have tended away from moving pieces of play equipment, mainly due to the liability from accidents, they use a more static type of play equipment, although the classic swing is still in evidence in many parks to this day.

          More awareness of other dangers has lead to many play areas being fenced in, to protect the children playing.

          Visiting a local farm is yet another wonderful experience “Pick you Own’ farms can be a wonderful treat for the kids..

          Fruit picking
          Fruit picking

          Here in Weston, Missouri we have a classic old style farm that is just enchanting.

          Early one morning , Weston Red Barn Farm
          Early one morning , Weston Red Barn Farm

          Ann & I, interviewed Farmer Steve last week he will be on our show very soon, to tell you how busy he is kept with  all his animals and field of fruit and pumpkins not to mention around 15,000 kids visiting his farm each year !

          You can hear our other interviews at  Growing Trends

          Or you can visit our show web site at Landscape Knowledge.com   to read more

          Enjoy your weekend, thank you for reading our blog, we would love to hear from you.

          Ann & Chris

          Visits: 35

        • 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

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

          National Farmers Market Week

          Some of you may know that Ann & I have started a daily radio show, we call the show Growing Trends, it’s on at 1pm & 7pm daily at  www.cravingtalkradio.com it’s really an extension of this blog, where we talk to people who are connected with our industry or homeowners that have a special interest or just an interesting landscape, or perhaps just a passion for gardens.

          This past week we have been really fortunate to find some exceptionally gifted folks, our first was a rose grower, who in addition to working a very busy day as an executive still managed to come home and relax by working in his rose garden until late at night, he has a really interesting twist to this but you will have to wait until we broadcast the interview to hear it.

          As our heading says this week is National Farmers Market Week, so Ann & I decided to take an early morning trip to one of our local farmers markets  last Saturday morning. Well ok,  a quick confession, Ann was early, I was late. We were both much later than the first customers who arrived long before 7am to buy the pick of this very fresh crop – some of the farmers were up at 3am to make sure they brought their produce to market!

          Parkville, Missouri
          Parkville, Missouri

          The growers and customers were a very happy group, many were regulars who knew all the growers and would talk with real enthusiasm about the produce they were buying, you will hear this in the interviews.

          The Lake's Family

          All the growers had a wealth of knowledge and experience, which was one of the main reasons the customers came back week after week, they liked the idea of talking to the growers, understanding their efforts to produce good quality despite the variable weather conditions we all experience, some came because they had tried to grow crops themselves but just couldn’t quite succeed.

          Jim's Garlic & Herbs with Beth, Frank & Martha

          Everyone felt that they were obtaining value for money, and just loved the freshness, flavorsome and at times unusually shaped produce.

          We talked to at least half a dozen or so growers and could have if time had permitted talked to many more, we also talked to a number of customers who were clearly regular visitors to the market.

          Fresh Produce

          What struck us most was that everyone was there because they enjoyed meeting each other,the customers liked talking to the growers and the growers really liked meeting their customers, it seems that more and more we see this as we broaden our interviews.

          Buying Produce

          Visits: 46