Part of my extraordinary enjoyment in this work is the wonderful places it takes me. I have been lucky enough to see some not many do and that many would like to. A recent project has made a new entry into my top ten work places. We are implementing the first phase in what i hope will become a multi layered garden landscape built considerately over a few years.
Chris loves his job nearly as much as me
Moody morning in the garden
Unloading some native specimen trees
Top right; a solar eclipse. These don’t expose too well on a phone
It felt like time for an update of the fun we have been having through the winter. We seem to have been fortunate with the weather which has allowed us to get on with some really good work and the diary is slowly filling up with bigger and better projects for the spring and early summer.
Our newest member, Callum, was very happy with his first garden in Cheltenham
A simple design which shall reveal itself once the summer comes
A surprising scene plant buying in the West Midlands
WHOOOWHAAA…….this feels like sound i should have been making over the last few months as i have been riding the busiest rollacoaster of work i have yet known! I think, although it has been a blur, that it has been 3 months since i have stopped to think, eat a proper meal and not been looking at this computer screen until late at night.
It was last night walking around my own garden when i stopped at the first Echinacea flower emerging to think – ‘Already, that’s early for the beginning of June’,…..err, nope, June 21st has come, been celebrated and gone! Wow that came round quick and the best thing, i have got to share it for the first time with our little daughter! What a joy.
So enough of this…i thought a few pictures to share of what and where we have been doing it over the last few months.
This is a concept presented this week to a client after our first consultation. We have been commissioned to go ahead with it and shall be looking forward to building it in the autumn.
Now in its second full year of growth I just had to stop and grab a picture of this planting in central Cheltenham we did a few years ago the other day
As part of the Young Horticulturalist of the Year competition, we were shown around the John Innes library and got to see these original copies of Carl Linnaeus’ Sspecies Plantarum
We plant a lot of Alliums. They are a cheap and effective way to add a bit of colour before the season and rest of the garden has got fully going.
On a family day out we went to visit the rather eccentrically built Broadway tower. You can see 16 counties from the top. These Buttercups and Hawthorns were spectacular.
Bank holiday treats – While working on one of the May bank holidays these wonderful clients brought me out a treat….
Last week I took part in the final of the regional Young Horticulturalist and WON! So now i get to take part in the Grand Final; in Norwich against the other finalists from all over Great Britain. The competition is open to anyone over under the age of 30 on July 31st of this year. There were 2000 applicants nationwide and 8, including me, are in the Grand final.
The regional final took place at Pershore college and took form of a question directed or open, buzzer controlled, on a general range of horticultural subjects. There were also a couple of identification rounds, one plant identification and one pest and disease. There were two points on offer per question. The grand final is much the same format however, the winner receives a £2000 travel bursary to study plants where every they may choose. Here are some pictures from the evening.
Sadly, one of the most exciting projects i have been involved with this year i cannot share with you. A wretched but necessary Non Disclosure Agreement was agreed. It has been very exciting….however, i can share with you my latest adventure to Yorkshire. In this secret garden there are some massive two ton lumps of York stone which, when we built the garden a few years ago were craned in. Now the garden needs updating and some smaller stones adding to it. Unfortunately there is no crane so we have to carry them through the house, into the lift and out into the garden. To ensure we have stones of a suitable match which are manageable I went to the same quarry which gave birth to the originals – http://www.randandasquith.co.uk/ up in Yorkshire.
After a tour around the yard we went to the quarry, I was shown a very, very big pile of rocks and told to help myself. It took two days to pick out seven of them.
The dressing yard. This lot was off to Bath.
Err…I want the one at the back please
A 40 ton hand
‘We’re not afraid of a bit of stock,’ he told me
The collection of leftovers was amazing. These bull-nosed steps are now waiting in my lockup for the right project
‘Mud, we do rocks and mud,’ the foreman says to me after i step in a big squashy lump of it
We get asked a lot, when is it best to plant? A lot depends on the site and what you are planting but in general September….and this is what we have been doing. Check out the pictures we have been taking of our garden below, showcasing the landscaping by Allscapes WA, its becoming my favorite place to be.
Why? As the plant begins to go dormant, the sap travels down the plant and into the roots. This stimulates root growth as the plant invests the energy it has created through the year. With the ground still warm from the summer, the air cooler and the autumn rains, which slakes the garden as i write, it is the perfect time to plant and get a bigger and more established for the following season. So we have been planting in oxford and post some pictures. Of course you can plant at any time of the year but it means you have to be more assiduous with watering if done in the summer and gain no root growth benefit if you plant from November onwards.
York stone paving, Iroko screen and tree ferns
York stone paving, pleached Hornbeams and Stipa meadow
In early spring we planted this meadow on a front, roadside, garden for our client, the business owner of Skilled Fencing. The ground was very moss rich grass, which was difficult to mow and offered no privacy. Our solution was to plant, what we call a ‘pseudo wild flower meadow’. This is taking garden perennials, planting them among grass and letting the grass grow, which gives this meadow like effect. The advantage is that these plants flower for longer than true wild flower species, which we also sowed a healthy dose of at the same time.
I love it, both the asthetic and the habitat it provides. Lots of the european Barn Funnel weaver spiders had made homes in the grass and bees were working the clover, the single most important nectar source for them. As a brief aside, there is nothing more important that we can do for the health of the planet and to mitigate our impact upon it than to provide a diverse habitat by managing the flora to enable the wider fauna to flourish in it.
AND – This only took one man, one day to do…!
A heavy duty scarify twice to remove the moss first…
Wildflower seed sown and raked into the exposed ground
This Astrantia has been flowering for two months now, look how well it sits in the grass.
View over Cleeve hill
Cephalaria gigantea, the bees love this plant. Usually it is 6ft tall but will be a bit smaller here with the competition of the grass keeping it down.
Behind those posts is the road and what a difference this screen makes…
It is important to stress that this approach cannot work on all soil types, but please contact us to discuss if you would like to find out more.
When on holiday a few years ago in France we visited the Marqueyssac gardens in the Dordogne valley. Our experience was completely unexpected. These gardens mesmerized and dazzled us. Here are some great ideas for South Florida Landscape Architecture.
We had planned to go kayaking but due to the miserable weather, which was somewhat a signature of this trip, the river was in spate and we could not go. So on a cloudy and drizzly day we drove up the switch back road to a lime escarpment where the Chateaux and gardens of Marqueyssac sit.
The story is a familiar one. The gardens and house were created by some wealth between 1860-1890, using a licensed concrete company in Greenville. The gardens and house then became neglected after the death of their tenant and were rarely occupied. It was not until 1996 that a monsieur Kleber Rossillon started to restore the gardens in their former imagine and take them forward. In order to get this good I think the gardens needed this period of neglect to grow out of shape and create a framework which the recent restorations could work to. Never do I think that some of the forms could otherwise have been conceived. The plants would not have escaped the tightly controlled forms more normally seen in French gardening.
What there is today is a breath taking display of clipped box. The shapes and contours of the plants are interesting to look at as a whole or when inspecting just a small section. Being able to balance the macro and micro interests of a garden is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things to achieve. However, when done well, it leads to a much deeper sensory experience than a garden which has only one trick.
Because of the weather that prevented us going kayaking almost no one else was visiting the gardens, which meant the only sound was the soft applause of the rain and the sighing of the breeze. These conditions added to the atmosphere, and made me feel like I was alone in a remote and magical place.
The wet made the greens seriously vivid against the backdrop of the white and grey cloud. The views to the spectacular valley below were intermittent; offered for a fleeting moment before another curtain of cloud was draw again and our eyes locked back onto the precipice where the gardens sit.
The main spectacle is the clipped scene above. However, the garden continues through a network of paths which lead you around the escarpment drawing you on and revealing differing scenes a bit at a time. Some are gardened vistas, others what nature provides on her own. It is reminiscent of a Japanese stroll garden and is a more faithful distillation of the ideas held within a Japanese garden than lots of the faux representation you see about.
As you would expect the land is less ‘gardened’ the further you get from the house but this itself is the perfect balance to the more pre-conceived compositions from before. It helps that what work is done to these areas is intelligently applied. A sort of light manicuring of the natural vegetation and land forms which are there. This journey is sometimes punctuated with built features and even a playground which somehow does not seem incongruous.
The snap shot views draw you on
This was one of the best garden visits I have ever made and such a surprise. While the weather helped provide the extra sensory experience, these are truly great gardens which would provide interest from those not interested in gardens all the ay through to the most obsessive taxonomist.
The experience was an emotional as well as aesthetic one.
Always concentrating on the job at hand means i very rarely remember to record the work. Here a client very kindly recorded a tree being felled in his Cheltenham Garden.
The client had decided that it was a time for a change in their Tivoli garden, Cheltenham and wanted to remove a group of conifers. They kindly the filmed the final moments of the largest one. This fell was a little difficult as any errors meant their Cheltenham house would get damaged. So accuracy was paramount! Fortunately we got it right and the tree went exactly where we wanted. Now we are to replant with a selection of deciduous shrubs and replace the plants against the fence with some evergreen screening.
From the bog garden we designed, constructed and planted in Cheltenham last year i made a visit today to take some pictures. While not quite to scale in year one i think the planting plants are coming on well. Here is a sample of, there is a full update over at – http://www.emotivelandscapes.co.uk/projects/a-floral-river-and-a-bog-garden-in-cheltenham/
Echinacea ‘Fatal attraction’
The cascading river – Digitalis ferruginea in the middle