• 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

    Visits: 56

  • 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.


    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

  • Gardening,  gardens,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature

    A walk around a garden can be very therapeutic.

    I received an email from a client today, it was most thought provoking, all about the therapeutic effects of a well thought out landscape, in her case an ancient woodland area.

    I’ve been designing and building some amazing landscapes since graduating way back in 1975.

    Sometimes when we finished a project the garden took on it’s own aura – one a Chelsea Flower Show exhibit literally changed colour and became this amazing golden yellow, you could almost feel the colour ( if that’s possible)

    I’m in the business of creating dreams for people – if we manage to design well the garden does indeed make folks feel happy and at peace. More often than not we tend to energise folks into taking more time to enjoy what we have created.

    One of our favourite additions is a path around the garden, it needs to be wide enough for two to walk side by side so about 5ft wide is ideal, in this way the enjoyment of the garden becomes a journey with a destination as well as a practical gardening use.

    In this case we added a pergola for a little shade as you walk, as well as a focal point from the terrace, in the distance you can also make out a well feature, so the path has various destinations as you walk around.


    It’s also a good idea to create a firm edge to a path, to prevent it from migrating into the landscape, the path itself is made with a  sub base of limestone and a dressing of finer binding gravel to act as a wearing surface – requiring a little weeding and a rake & roll every two months.

    Always set the lawn level about 1/2inch (15mm)  to an inch(25mm) above the path edge, in this way you can clean cut the lawn with just the mower, and those dreadful strimmers can be left in the truck !


    You can hear more about our techniques, ideas, views of experts, interviews with home owners with beautiful gardens on our new radio show called Growing Trends – you can find us a www.growingtrends.org


    Visits: 117

  • Gardening,  gardens,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature

    How to start a project from a designer’s perspective.



    It’s been many years since I first visited a client to sell my design & build company to them.

    In all these years , some things never change and first impressions are always top most in my mind. Fortunately with many years of experience, a huge portfolio, a large portfolio of awards, and dozens and dozens of personal recommendations, it’s a little easier. However one should always remember “You are only as good as your last job” !

    My system for want of a better word starts with my secretary, she will engage the potential client, take down details of why they called what they would like and, then make an appointment she knows I can keep – missed appointments or forgotten phone calls are extremely rude and guaranteed to lose you a project.

    Because like most males (I suspect), my navigations skills are not particularly good, when she creates a temporary file it includes site directions, phone  contacts etc.,

    It also includes our questionnaire. We developed this as a means to extract information vital in providing what the customer was really seeking at the price they were willing to pay so that we could “Under promise and over supply” ..

    During the initial visit, I will, listen about twice as much as talk, ( for those of you who know me well, this is a very interesting concept) discuss likes and dislikes, make a few notes, walk around the property and take site pictures, as it is usually the lady of the house only during the day, the site questionnaire is left to be completed, along with a fees for design work – I have never not charged for design work ( we may give part back on acceptance of the project), but we have worked on the principal that if you do not pay for something you do not value it !

    Nothing is free in  this world, and hiding your design costs inside the work is no exception, we are in business to provide an exceptional service at a fair price, that enables us to pay our staff, maintain insurances, replace equipment etc.,etc., finding the right balance is always a challenge.

    Whilst walking around the site, it’s a great idea to make notes of access, height restrictions, positions of services, gate widths etc.

    This initial visit would usually take about an hour perhaps a little longer, and often the acceptance rate to stage two the design would be around 55%.

    Sometimes folks just wanted our award winning design skills, and that was fine as long as they paid the true price for them.

    So here is the questionanaire.

    Brief description of what you are looking
    for : …………………………………………
    How you use your garden :
    Do you have animals ? : Yes / No.

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

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

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

    What sort of Budget you would like us to Design
    to : ……………………………………………………
    (It helps enormously if we can have a figure to
    work to, we should be able to produce a Design
    within 10 percent )
    Some items to consider :
    Lawns. Yes / No
    Shrubberies Yes / No.
    Rockeries Yes / No

    Ponds Yes / No.
    Streams Yes / No

    Fish / Koi Ponds Yes / No.
    Paths Yes / No

    Patios Yes / No.
    Terraces Yes / No.

    Walls Yes / No.
    Ground contouring Yes / No

    Vegetable gardens Yes / No.
    Garden Features :
    Garden Shed : Yes / No.

    Power & Lighting Yes / No.
    Irrigation Yes / No.

    Summerhouses Yes / No.
    Greenhouses Yes / No

    Gazebo’s Yes / No.
    Pergolas Yes / No

    Seating Yes / No.

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


    We also suggested that a likes and dislikes list was created so we knew what to add or avoid.

    Finally, rather than try and describe the items or styles we suggested that clients either take pictures, or articles from a magazine or bookmark web pages. so we could begin to build a profile picture of the type of landscape they sort.

    We can go into this in more detail on our radio show at Growing Trends on www.cravingtalkradio.com


    Visits: 34

  • gardens,  Landscapes & Gardens,  Nature

    We’re ready to record our radio show..!


    We would really like to hear what you think about our program, and to ask you what you would like to hear on the show, or even be interviewed about any of the topics we are planning to present.

    Here’s a typical weeks content:

    The show is intended for the homeowner, with input from homeowners & experts around the world.

    Discussing Edibles, Vegetables and Herbs, what are the easiest to start with, where & how  should I grow them.

    An interview with a homeowner that grows veggies and herbs interspersed within flower borders – growing peppers, rosemary, parsley, beans,cabbage, lettuces, tomatoes, etc., are quite easy,

    Amusing anecdotes from some 40 years of landscaping gardens & commercial sites across the globe.

    Interviewing a small organic vegetable farmer in the MidWest, what they are growing ,how they get to market…

    Around the world trends in growing vegetables & herbs from our colleagues abroad, looking at for example – Allotments in England, Balcony raised beds in Europe,

    Coreopsis 1

    The next week will be:

    Choosing the right plant  – how to plant, prune, and maintain flower beds and plant containers.

    Interviewing a sustainable garden designer in the USA – how to save water, prepare ground, aftercare, etc.,

    More anecdotes from around the globe.

    Trends in Playgrounds, Roof Gardens, Paving, Parks, Grass areas from around the world..

    If you have a question you would like ask, please send us an email with the question we will try and answer questions each week, we may even call you ! We will also send you details of where you can hear the program.

    As the program will be on internet radio, it will be possible to record directly from the web, enabling you to play back when its best for you.

    Visits: 37