Wednesday, 27 November 2013

What I took away from FutureScape.....

I’m not talking about the sample piece of artificial turf courtesy of namgrass, which my ten year old creatively utilised in his Lego ‘Hagrid’s Hut’ installation, nor the Toro light pen, which is annihilating our house in its laser gun guise assumed by my youngest, but as a industry novice and inspiring garden designer I wanted to share a relatively serious comment on this event and its relevancy to my new career path.

FutureScape is in its infancy, the second annual single day event occurred on Nov 19th 2013 at Kempton Park Racecourse, and given the exponential growth of visitors from its inauguration last year, it is sure to need re-housing in the near future. It is aimed at both designers and landscapers, delivering product stands, seminars and expert Q&A sessions across a variety of related subjects.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Community spirit still alive and well

Responding to a call for help from a designer I greatly admire, I dashed up the A1(M) to Peterborough last week. Chris Beardshaw had been invited by the DIY SOS Big Build TeamChildren in Need Special’, to design a landscaped garden and playground surrounding a newly built community center that will primarily house the Little Miracles Charity, a parent led support group for families with children that have additional needs, disabilities and life limiting conditions.

The project commenced on Tue 17th Sept 2013 and by the time I arrived a week later the entire main building had been completed externally and the landscaping was in full swing although with completion due in three days, there was a significant amount of work still to do. So all checked in and hard hat adorned, I entered the site to get stuck in.

Main building and surround

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Contemporary Temporary?

‘Really, are you sure, an arch spanning the Long Walk?’ For those who don’t know the Long Walk is a perfectly straight path/road that stretches 2.64 miles from her majesty’s castle residence in Windsor up Snow Hill terminating near the foot of the imposing ‘Copper Horse’ statue. You receive stunning vistas from either end, in fact from any point along it!

I'm a big fan of modern art sculpture, specifically the large outdoor varieties and appreciate installations that contrast against classic architecture. This however would have to be something truly spectacular to have any sort of impact in this location, particularly in terms of scale.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Un Jardin Magnifique

It’s been a long break since my last post, I've been enjoying an actual summer with sun this year and given that our choice of family holiday was decidedly risky weather-wise, we were extremely lucky!

Our destination was a small chambre d’hôte in Saint Denis sur Sarthon, Normandy. What do you mean you've not heard of it? To be honest I’m glad, I think it’s generally and somewhat inappropriately only used as a stopover for those heading further south or a quick weekend break for Parisians, but as our fellow short staying guests frequently exclaimed as we told them we were staying for 10 days ‘I wish we’d booked our stay here longer,’ this house and location definitely deserve more time.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

It's not just what's inside that counts

It's all relative

There’s a little hotel ‘round our way, called Cowarth Park, you may have even heard of it! Part of its attraction, and there are plenty, are the sumptuous gardens, constantly maintained by the knowledgeable and friendly garden staff.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Food for too much thought

Like most, I enjoy the barbecue season, and I don’t just mean guarding the grill, beer in hand, tong armed and comedy apron attired. I mean the whole process, food preparation, marinades, sauces, salads, cooking, alfresco dining etc. As a mild pyromaniac, I was introduced to the barbecue at a fairly early age, perhaps as a vain attempt to channel my fire obsession, but more likely as a cleverly disguised chore. In those days our cooking device was little more than a stack of un-mortared bricks and a wire grill rack, but I used to revel in the process of getting the temperature/coals just right to ensure that my mum’s Indonesian recipe skewers (more on those in a future post) were cooked to perfection, and I rarely failed.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Recycle and re-buy British

It used to pain me, the way my parents and grandparents labelled us the ‘throw away’ generation.
“It’s not worth replacing, it’ll cost almost as much as buying new,” I would argue. Or “Don’t blame us, were the consumers not the manufacturers.”
But now as a parent myself, a little older and slightly more responsible (!), I now discover myself agreeing with them to a certain degree, but don’t let on.

Now I’m not saying every product built today is inferior to those of yesteryear, that would be ridiculous, although quite why advancements in technology and our so called increased intelligence do not allow the smartphone devices we urgently rely upon today to last longer than a couple of years annoys me, but I guess that’s the point, intelligence has taught us that we need to replace items frequently to maintain positive economical sustainment. Confusing isn’t it?

Whilst I do find myself reluctantly accepting of shorter product lifecycles, I am also instinctively becoming more attracted to older and solidly made items particularly with interior and exterior furniture and now more recently garden tools.

Have I found a 'free lunch'?

If you ever wanted a clear example of the importance pricing plays in a marketing strategy to increase the desirability of a product or service, then look no further than The Royal Landscape, part of The Crown Estate near Windsor.

The area is broken down into three areas, namely The Savill Garden, Virginia Water and The Valley Gardens all housed within the Windsor Great Park. Very fortunately I live on the doorstep of this thousand acre site, and utilise its entirety often for various family activities.

Arguably the leading attraction is The Savill Garden, a 35 acre site wonderfully fronted by the strikingly modern The Savill Building, a 2007 RIBA Sterling Award Finalist. As you would expect this garden offers diverse planting with a myriad of plants, design and landscaping and of particular splendour is the fairly new contemporary rose garden addition, designed by RHS judge Andrew Wilson.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

There’s no such thing as a small garden project!

I have a little lawn to the north facing front of my house. Over time I've added some box hedging to line the front path, some birch trees, that I intend to keep small with regular pruning, a few pale narcissus that pop up briefly in the spring and a Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' rambling rose which I'm currently training along the wall and adjacent fence.

Unfortunately the lawn is a bit of eyesore, with neglect leaving it overrun with moss and a brown colour suggesting a small infestation of Chafer grubs, and whilst I do like a bit of the old green blades, I’m still finding the area fairly featureless and so decided to attempt a little bit of simple landscaping to create a new central bed.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Providing even more treasure

Dorney Court Kitchen Garden is a delightful collective nursery, café, children’s play area and garden providing the perfect coffee and cake destination for all the family to enjoy. Obviously the main attractions for us are the three ride-on pedal tractors that our children use to explore the site, keeping them amused and allowing our uninterrupted cappuccino supping!