Young Horticulturalist of The Year – West Midlands and South Wales 2014

 Cheltenham garden, Cheltenham gardeners, Landscapers in Cheltenham, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Young Horticulturalist of The Year – West Midlands and South Wales 2014
Mar 202014
 

Winner!

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.

Scoreboard

YHOY Winner Cheltenham reduced

In height order

The competition Cheltenham garden

The finalists

YHOY Cheltenham garden design

Identification round

‘He’ll get the birch’

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on ‘He’ll get the birch’
Dec 242013
 

Not a punishment for speeeling errors in my homework, or a flagellated Scandinavian loosening of the pores in the sauna but sleeping beauties from Stone Lane Gardens  have arrived.

We have all seen white Betula utilis (Himalayan birches) in fancy office block car parks, show gardens, designer magazines or public gardens. If you have not, then start looking as you move about the internet or the built environment and you shall see them. They’re wide spread use is because these ARE GREAT TREES. Lovely bark in the winter, an open and not too spreading a canopy and roots not so demanding that they prevent the growth of all but nettles underneath them making them perfect for the garden. Their timescale fits with ours too…

Yes trees are great, but in most cases we plant for posterity and enjoy the labours of those before us. However, birches look their best in our timescale. The trees photographed below are 7-12 years from planting and will reach their best around 25 years. This is, for the average tenure of a homeowner just perfect. Sold? I’ll plant you another white multi-stemmed birch….BUT WAIT, there is a new way.

From recent seed collections in China and the Himalayas we now have access to trees with a wider range of colours. These pictures below were taken at the the national collection and my supplier ‘s garden, Stone Lane. I have spoken to those who have seen forests of these trees in the wild and I can onvly enviously imagine that it must be one of natures grandest sites.

In the latest planting we are planting groves to subtly shift in colour from orange through to red and then to pink to back a large pond.

Stone lane birches

Stone lane birches

B. Mt Luoji

B. Mt Luoji

Landscape gardeners Cheltenham

B. ‘Forest Blush’

Garden designers in cheltenham

B ‘China Rose’

Cheltenham landscapers

Betula seedlings showing natural variation

Sep 132013
 

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, 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. We found out more at progressivetree.com on when to work on your garden, which 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, Iroko screen and tree ferns

Cheltenham garden designer

York stone paving, pleached Hornbeams and Stipa meadow

Cheltenham garden

Curved brick walls and tree ferns

Cheltenham lightwell garden

Inside out

Reference: Los Angeles residential paving options.

Oxford landscaping and Cheltenham wild flower meadow part 2

 Cheltenham gardeners, Landscapers in Cheltenham  Comments Off on Oxford landscaping and Cheltenham wild flower meadow part 2
Jul 062013
 

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, this way we can walk around nature with our Zenith ankle brace knowing that we did something good for this planet.

AND – This only took one man, one day to do…!

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow....

A heavy duty scarify twice to remove the moss first…

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow…..

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow wild flower seed

Wildflower seed sown and raked into the exposed ground

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow

This Astrantia has been flowering for two months now, look how well it sits in the grass.

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow...

View over Cleeve hill

Battledown, Cheltenham wildflower meadow..

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.

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow.

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.

Oxford landscaping and Cheltenham wild flower meadow part 1

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Oxford landscaping and Cheltenham wild flower meadow part 1
Jul 062013
 

The summer has arrived and this morning sees me and her going to Mold, north Wales, for a friends wedding, but before we go i wanted to share these pictures from our gardening in and around Cheltenham…..and Oxford!

First up we have a pic from some terracing we designed for a basement extension in Oxford. There shall be many more pics and explanations to come from this garden once we have done the planting in September, but for now just a this pic of these walls.

Oxford terracing

Oxford terrace.

Recent landscaping and gardening around Cheltenham

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Recent landscaping and gardening around Cheltenham
Jun 202013
 

Too long, too long between posts. We have been extremely busy with longer than usual spring fever. Some interesting projects going on in Cheltenham, Oxford and London which means we will be able to update the landscaping project’s page soon. So i thought the best i could do would be to add some photo’s from recent travels and work. As ever these are straight out of the camera, not time to edit.

Cheltenham gardens

Too long, too long between posting. We have been extremely busy with a longer than usual spring fever. Some interesting project going on which means we will be able to update the landscaping project’s page soon. So i thought the best i could do would be to add some photo’s from recent travels. As ever these are straight out of the camera, not time to edit.

Cheltenham landscape gardeners

Bought from a market in its native island, Shikoku – Japan, Arisaema sikokianum. What magical flowers.

Cheltenham gardeners

Part of our increasing even work we made these planter for Let’s Rent opening office party. Some more coming up for the Cheltenham music fesitval.

Cheltenham landscapers

Chelsea flower show – i liked this detail and what show gardens allow you to do. In the artisan/small gardens there always seems to be some beautifully artistic yet completely structurally deficient arrangement of dry stone walling. I liked this.

Cheltenham landscape architect

See – root’s don’t grow downwards but outwards. It took me a long time to get this, but how beautifully shown here!

Landscape gardeners cheltenham

And we planted some Jasmine in a London garden.

Cheltenham garden design

If your still reading here is a garden we go to regularly and this year i think we have won. It is starting to look really good and i think we will have some open days next year. This moment, however, if a quick one in spring. Don’t blink!

Cheltenham garden designers

This will be a beautiful curved terrace and steps for a basement extension in Oxford. I shall be back on site soon to take some more pictures. Check back to see them.

May 162013
 

We are asked to help beautify the Cheltenham Jazz Festival in return for some publicity….so we did this…

A piano plant party

A piano plant party

Garden designers in Cheltenham

Wall flowers, Brunera and Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’

Cheltenham Garden designers

Daisy for the flats

Cheltenham gardeners

Amelanchier lamarkii

Cheltenham Landscapers

Early hours

Landscapers gardeners Cheltenham

Plant palette – Brunnera, Dicentra (bleeding heart) and a favourite foliage plant for Chelsea flower show gardens, Cynara (Globe thistle)

Somethings did grow last year

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Somethings did grow last year
Apr 062013
 

It is a such a treat to  get pictures of past landscape garden design and build projects that I don’t get to visit and one such e-mail landed in my box this week. These pictures from last year were accompanied with nice words such as;

  • I thought you might appreciate a few photos of how well the garden did last year. Those early photos on your web site, a few plants, low in the ground, with a lot of space between them, have been joyfully superceded.
  • The Eryngium got into a survival battle with the washing line; the eryngium won, I made other, temporary, arrangements for the washing.
  • The Estate Agent who originally sold me the house came to have an ‘advisory’ look round, and was very complimentary about the back garden; that it had been one of the sticking points in selling the house, but that I (ie, you) had had the  vision to see it could be so different, since he thought the house could have bigger windows, and even recommended me a service of sunroom window replacement near me for this. But still, many thanks for a lovely garden.

Mixed summer planting

Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstonne’ – A bit taller than normal here because of the weather. This is a great self supporting late flowering Rubeckia. I love its presence…

Woodland planting with Astrantia ‘Shaggy’, doing what is does for most of the summer in a cool wet place, flowering!

Feb 202013
 

As part of our recent trip around New Zealand we flew back up to  Auckland from the geologically sublime south of Queenstown and Fjordland (below). More on this and the Punga (tree ferns) trees of this area to come.

Tree line of the so called Goblin forest, Fjordland. Looking north east to sea.

From Auckland we picked up our hire car and got as far north as daylight and time would allow for the day to the winterless north and Maori land. As our enthusiasm for the days travel waned we found ourself’s approaching a campsite in the same little town as The Kauri museum. So we decided to make camp for the night and begin our introduction to the Kauri by way of the Museum. I have never seen or heard of a whole museum dedicated to one species of tree, let along one so expansive.  A mainstay of the exhibitions is the storey of what I think is an underrepresented aspect of the told history of our relationship with trees and their forests. That is the life and conditions of those working  at the time which is now dismissed as a senseless act of mass deforestation by a previous  generations.  This is not to celebrate and the museum didn’t give this feeling, but rather to tell a storey of a tough life and virgin forest unknown to us now. There is an Eastern poem i once read which some of the lives

Karui wood

A few of my highlights were, an exhibition larger than the combined size of all the walls in our house of Kauri gum, a whole wall display of chainsaws through the ages. It is frightening to look at some of these instruments with the eyes of modern Health and Safety. Heavy machines, no chain brake or clutch and even more lethal than todays tools. However, with big trees you need big saws.

Chainsaws of yesteryear

Lots of pictures of this and these are used with kind permission of the museum. To move such big trees through thick forest you need innovative transport. So they used to build dams to collect the logs on the high side. Then pull a release lever and wash the logs down stream to the next dam and eventually to the sea or saw mill.

Release

 

Big logs

From here we ventured further north to see the trees and their forest and they are massive. Photographs never do such big trees justice. Never. These trees are approximately 2000 years old and are just huge. The phrase ‘It’s just like in the movies’ always grates a little. I think it is expressed the wrong way around. For places like this are the inspiration for the movies. Here it is easy to draw comparisons with these forests and those depicted in Avatar. How easily ‘Home Tree’  could have been based on a the Kauri. Fortunately the Kauri are now protected and cannot be felled.

Kauri’s, Agathis australis, are a hard wood confier . The timber it yields is of the finest quality. A lot of the timber was used in ship building and the younger trees which grow so straight and do not deviate for the light or around other vegetation were sought out for the masts. The Maori’s used the large and strong trees to make single construction dug out canoes which could reportedly hold over 100 warriors.

The trees can grow to 50m tall and provide the emergent canopy in these forests. One of the most interesting physiological adaptations of the Kauri is how it inhibits colonisation by parasites or climbers. As with lots of conifers  the lower branches are readily discarded by the tree, however, as the canopies are not particularly dense and do not prevent anything else growing at their base they need another method to prevent them being climbed upon. The bark of Kauri trees  is extremely flaky. This means that once any weight is applied the bark detaches and the climbers can’t hold of for very long.

The fattest of them all - Te Matua Ngahere 

The lord of the forest - Tāne Mahuta

Kauri, Agathis australis

Amazing winter protection – Cycas revoluta

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Amazing winter protection – Cycas revoluta
Jan 312013
 

On a recent trip to Japan i visited Katsura Rikyu, the Imperial villa. Our  equivalent may be Chequers. This was my second visit to the garden and it has to be one of the best in world. I shall be posting over the next few weeks all about this trip to Japan and the others to New Zealand. However, this; in the depth of winter seemed appropriate to share first.

I cannot say what the material is made from as the translation did not come across clearly enough to understand. They use this construction to protect Cycads (Cycas revoluta). Cycads are a bit at odds with the concept that Japanese gardens are trying convey. Yet they valued the plants as gifts from and as a inference to, their more southerly islands so that in a few very traditional Japanese gardens you get these wonderful installations during the winter.

Cycas revoluta – installation guide

Cycas revoluta – Tokyo

Cycas revoluta – Katsura Rikyu, Kyoto

Cycas revoluta – Nijo-in, Kyoto