Compact Stylish Contemporary Garden Design
I was commissioned to create a garden design that was to be contemporary in terms of astestics, form, and planting.
The garden dedign had to be Pet friendly – specifically for the clients two African Grey Parrots. The clients intend to have the proposed seating area of the garden to be covered by an aviary; allowing the parrots the freedom to fly between the house and the garden.
Contemporary Natural stone paving was a must and the clients requested that they wanted the outdoor paving to reflect the tiles that had been used in the kitchen – a rainbow coloured smooth natural sandstone was selected was an almost perfect match.
The site is multifunctional; the clients run a business from the property. Access via the garden to their commercial warehouses needed to stay not be made more difficult – as such suitable access and materials were going to be needed to tie in the domestic garden design and the commercial areas.
The clients wanted the aviary section of the design to have raised planting beds with integrated seating, and table; was to house a fire pit. The existing lawn will be redesigned and fitted with astro turf. The garage, and warehouses were to be covered to suit the new design. The clients wanted the Parrots Java tree to be work into the garden design. Other considerations for the garden design were Subtle lighting, Contrast of old and new materials, Incorporate the clients existing patio heaters.
Nottingham Japanese Garden Design
Peaceful and Relaxing Japanese Garden
The client’s brief to me was simple yet challening – I was to create a contemplative and relaxing Japanese style garden design for a section of a large established garden that had previously served as the clients vegetable patch. The proposed design needed to sit in harmony with the existing garden, and the wider environment.
The garden design implemented the principles of the Japanese gardens focus on three basic principles, reduced scale, symbolization, and borrowed view. Garden Designs that reduced scale represent famous scenes and places in small and confined spaces from landscape around the site – normal Japan. Mountain views and rivers are miniaturized using stones, sand and gravel. Raked sand or gravel symbolizes rivers, groupings of stones and rock can represent islands or Mountains. “Shakkei” as it known, or borrowed views is when the garden design makes use of existing scenery and plants to supplement the garden. The garden design I proposed incompassed as many of these principles as possible without the garden becoming too japanese or looking staged and not suiting the location.
A bespoke contemporary yet oriental fence was designed and installed. A Steel bowl was used to reflect the sky and compliment the planting. Gravel was used to create a Zen style area with the garden.
If you would a garden or garden design like this one please get in touch
Modern and Stylish Garden Design
A natural yet contemporary feel was desired by the client for this garden design. They wanted natural materials to be used wherever possible within the overall garden design. Due to budget restrictions only the patio and some planters would build in stage one of this garden design project. This is totally understandable especially when you look at the quality of paving that was used.
Clean straight lines are prominent within this section of the design. The natural stone used is accentuated by the clever use of a light gravel around the parameter and furniture that is lifted of the ground helps to give the site a feeling of being more spacious than it actually is. Ornamental grasses, heater, and ferns have been put in the planters bringing movement to the garden. The planters have been under planted with ‘ Queen of the Night’ Tulips.
Phase 2 of the garden design will see a floating chunky wooden deck complete with pergola and contemporary swing seat. A walk way leading to an elevated yet cleverly secluded snug complete with pizza oven and outdoor fire place for those chilly nights. A designated play area for the children is proposed with a bespoke fort and long wild grasses. Chunky wood walkways will link the areas together, they seem to flat effortlessly above the planting. Planting will be a mixture of perennials and shrubs to give all year interest to the garden.
As you can see from the photos the clients really enjoy using the space for family time, BBQ’s and just generally relaxing in the sun.
if you would like a garden or a garden design like this please get in touch
Mediation Garden Design – Blidworth
The client approached us with a request for us to help her and her husband fall back in love with the garden again. They’d been in the property a number of years and when they first moved in they have the whole garden decked as it was on a slope they felt would be too costly to resolve.
The client had one main request – she wanted a Yoga deck – the garden design had to essential give off a calm atmosphere. They want any lawn but they wanted us to continue the use of the black limestone they had installed on the top tier near the house.
A design was proposed that made space of the garden and allow them to use all areas. Contrasting white and black basalt gravel was used separated by a stainless edge that cuts a curve across the whole design, The upper patio area was extended to give an area for a hammock possibly a corner sofa unit. Within the garden design with a fit pit was proposed for relaxing evenings and enjoying the stars, this would comprise of a central circle fit pit and seating surrounding this. planted around the back to the soften the hard appearance of the fence behind it.
Natural wood was used as a cladding within the garden design to really lift the journey from the garden up to the house which is situated on a higher elevation. Bespoke steps were installed using the same materials used elsewhere ensuring harmony and unity across the garden design. The planting was simple and when matured will look stunning.
The client loved the garden and was especially pleased with her new Yoga and the contemporary feel that the cladding provides to the garden design.
If you would a garden or garden design like this one please get in touch
Relaxed and Pretty Garden Design
As we know with new build properties gardens are always a blank canvas. Which is good for us garden designers and a garden design as means we get to start without any real obstacles in the way. This garden was no exception – lawned with a single line of paving across the back of the house. As with most developers who care was taken to level the garden so it went up higher into the top right hand corner.
The client expressed a desire for the garden design that would include a large enough patio area for a table and chairs; a location for the Arbour that they wanted, a herb area, something to mute the red brick walls that dominated the garden.
As the client liked a more traditional feel to the site, so within the garden design we opted for using Old Riven from Bradstone Paving Ltd for the patio, arbour stand, paths and stepping stones. sleepers were used as low retaining wall as the existing lawn was on slope and budget restrictions didn’t allow for a total site levelling, and to be honest it was needed the slope adds to its charm. Trellis was erected along the walls and planted with Jasmine and Passion Flowers. The planting beds were curved in order to try to soften the otherwise very angular elements that made up the site and these were planted with a selection of perennials, ornamental grasses and shrubs that will provide all year round interest. Within the main patio two herb garden planters were installed and kitchen herbs added for fragrance and for actually cooking. The garden has been finished with elegant pots and garden ornaments that help to get focus to certain areas.
At the front of the property the same paving was used from the drive to the door and round the back, A simple and clean gravel garden was installed next to the front door and the poorly chosen plants the developers had put in were taking over and growing in front of a window. Its easy to maintain and looks very satisfying.
The client loves the garden garden as with all our clients.
For details on how you get a garden or a garden design like this get in touch.
Long Eaton Garden Design: Firepit
Long Eaton Garden Design: Firepit and Curves – Before
Long Eaton Garden Design: Firepit and Curves – After
The client approached me for a garden design as they were needed help in realising their dream garden. The garden they had already was dark, damp and run down. It had many over growth plants and shrubs that had been placed in spots with little thought.
The client asked for a bright, airy and unique garden – ‘something that you don’t see everyday’ – was my brief. So off i went to drawing board to put together my garden design concepts and ideas. I came back presented and set about the build.
What i proposed in my garden design was a radical change, i suggested that we try to use an much reclaimed materials as possible. Luckily the site had many discarded bricks in it already so these were saved and used in the feature fire-pit and the new retaining wall these elements sat neatly in a site that was surrounded on two sides by red brick Victorian walls as well as marry in with the exterior of property.
To compliment the fire-pit three circular inter-locking bespoke steps were to be built using industrial grade timber, along with 88 individual upright posts that were set in the ground to rising and falling in a wave form to accentuate the curves of the lawn/planting beds.
The steps sit flush with the block paving and natural Indian sandstone patio as well as the lawn. The sandstone slabs and block paving are inter laid to create an unique and interesting upper terrace. To screen the user of the garden and create intrigue in three bespoke stainless steel planters are been planted with various bamboos and placed on the edge of the upper terrace pushing the user to the steps and along the journey to the fire-pit at the bottom of the garden.
The planting is a contemporary in essence with an abundance of ornamental grasses, phoriums, acers, vincas and bamboos. the client had a special desire to have a California plant in the garden so a California Maple was planted. As the site had a mature Betula pendula which we lifted the crown to increase the amount of light in the site, but to give the site more height we planted two Prunus Serula for its beautiful peeling bark.
Nottingham Garden Design | Garden Design | Fire Pit | Landscaping
Garden Design Bramcote Naturalistic Social Garden Gallery
Garden Design Bramcote – The Naturalistic Social Garden – Before Photos
Garden Design Bramcote – The Naturalistic Social Garden – After Photos
The client approached us for a complete Garden Design for her front and rear gardens for her property in Nottingham. She wanted a garden that reflected her desire for a peaceful haven. Somewhere that would give her ample space to entertain and would excite and stimulate visitor’s sense.
She had large plot at the rear that before we started wasn’t very inspiring, planting was past its best and dated. The garden was dominated by a long conifer hedge at the back that due to its darkness really pulled the site in, and made it feel a lot smaller and darker than it actual was. There was a pond and deck which was tired and needed completely removing. The planting in the back was a hodge podge of things collected over the time, it had no scheme or structure. The garden lacked any kind of journey, intrigue or drama and therefore it didn’t spark any desire for a visitor to go out and explore and interactive with it. A tree had become the dominating factor in the garden and this meant the space lacked balance and harmony. The garden just didn’t work for the family.
The front garden was almost a blank a canvas. It had areas that weren’t being used or couldn’t be used by the family. The front aspect had some very mature pine trees that were subject to TPO’s and so these had to remain and be worked with. That being said it had echoes of what would once have been lovely and full planting beds; especially the Rhododendron bed which i can imagine looked stunning in its hay day. It had now become straggly and was ready for an overhaul. The client operates a business from her home and so required plenty of parking but without this becoming the only use. It needed to have other purposes; zones if you like that made you want to go out and enjoy the space. The client also wanted to accentuate the entrance to her property whilst maintaining true to the building, and this was a key consideration for the project – everything had to look as though it had always been there. I had one other consideration that needed to be worked into the garden design; attracting more wildlife to the garden. The client had a steady stream of foxes, badgers and birds that visited and it was important to ensure that whatever work we proposed wouldn’t deter them.
With all this mind i set off to come up with the clients prefect garden. Starting at the front i proposed several big changes to the existing layout and structure. I suggested that we use the driveway as inspiration for the form of the design; the driveway was an organic curve that snaked from the road up to the front/side of the property. Working with this i offered the client the chance to have the parking increased by curving out where it ended now and arching back in to meet the existing drive. This would give me the opportunity to implement several new planting beds that would enhance the approach to the property. I proposed a total redesign of planting to bring in a modern and contemporary planting scheme which would be echoed around the site. The garden design proposed having a pergola located in a wildflower meadow with a mowed path leading to it from the parking space. The pergola would a rustic bench and it would be surrounded by planting that along with the wild flower meadows would attract insects and butterflies.
On the other side of the driveway was a more radical suggestion of creating a Japanese influenced garden planted with an array of plants from the far east. This would be surrounded by yet more wild flowers. The area would be covered with beach cobbles, pebbles, boulders and a Oriental Curved Pergola with echoes of a dried river bed. The client wanted all materials to be rustic so we used Green Indian Sandstone in various sizes throughout the whole project, and in this location they were used as stepping stones to get across the pebbles and to help to introduce some harmony in the design.
All the existing planting in the front was replaced. One the main focal points in the scheme was the old Rhododendron bed where we planted three new trees – the stunning Toona sinensis ‘Flamingo’ which in the sheltered position would thrive and provide some stunning pink foliage in the spring. A variety of grasses were put in, along with many plants that were there to provide all year round interest. Ground cover was important in this location as the tall pines were preventing grass growing and was drawing a lot of nutrients from an already sandy soil. Careful consideration was required to ensure that the plants would suit this location.
The first thing that we did at the back was remove the light absorbing and over powering conifer hedge that ran the width of the back garden. We lifted the crown of the tree in the centre of the garden. This tree was a central focal point that all other elements curved around; it was the centre piece. The clients existing pond was very large and was encroaching into the garden, the viewing deck had been unmaintained and had started to rot and be become a hazard. A reduced pond was designed with a new water feature that would sit on the side of the pond. It would be nestled within tall grasses and would provide some excitement in the form of a waterfall that was raised 1.2m from the ground. The pond would be lined with the same cobbles and pebbles used on the Japanese garden in the front and would be planted up with grasses and aquatic plants.
A new deck was designed that would over hang the new pond giving the fish and wildlife in the pond somewhere protected. The deck would be accessible by a bridge; it designed with clean lines and was very angular in stark contrast to rest of the garden which was all based on curves, and organic forms, but tied in nicely with the contemporary summer house at the other side of the garden. The deck was to be constructed using hard work. It was going to be large so that this could become the main entertaining space. The colour chosen would reflect the colour of the bricks in the house, allowing it to settle nicely in the garden. A hard wood pergola was proposed that would span the length of the deck and would continue to centre of the garden giving another access/exit point from the deck. Under the pergola a stepping stone path was suggested using the Green Indian Sandstone (http://www.ced.ltd.uk), these would be interplanted with threadable alpines that would create a carpet of colour and soften the hard landscape elements of the design, the path would be flanked either side by planting.
A curved lawn would allow the introduction of planting beds, giving some much needed colour and structure to the garden, a large and wide stepping stone path cuts through the lawn leading to an area opposite the pond and deck and this houses a contemporary summer house which helps to balance the garden. The summer house is surrounded yet more stepping stones interplanted with again with threadable alpines and sedums, giving the area a soft and natural appeal. All the hard landscaping is softened by the planting that surrounds, sits in front or behind it. All plants introduced were selected with wildlife and sensory requirements in mind, texture, form, colour, smell and taste are all accounted for. The as the client was keen to on composting a new composting area was built tucked in away from the main attractions of the garden but easily accessible. All plants were provided by http://www.old-hall.com
The client was extremely happy with the garden design and so the build began. I hope you like the garden design as much as the client did.
Nottingham Garden Design | Garden Designer | Landscapers Nottingham
Botanical Mechanical: Can Artificial Grass and Flora really coexist in the Same Garden?
If an Englishman’s home is his castle (or an Englishwoman’s for that matter), then surely our gardens are our vast and sprawling fiefdoms, to be ruled over and defended. Perhaps it’s a quirk of our combined history, climate and geography then that we have become a nation of gardeners. There’s certainly no getting away from it – a lot of us take our gardens and what we have in them very seriously indeed.
The Chelsea Turning Point
Perhaps it was no surprise then, that when, in 2010, the entry of an artificial grass display into the Chelsea Flower Show was announced for the first time in the show’s 148 year history a few cages were rattled. Neither was the disdain from some quarters two years later when a display featuring artificial grass went on to win a Gold Medal at the show. Both were the work of Easigrass and long time collaborator Tony Smith and they can be seen as representing a major shift in attitudes towards artificial grass in our gardens.
Whilst it’s true that the Chelsea Flower Show is a glamorous and glitzy world away from the romanticised yet down-to-earth idylls of our very own English gardens, it does nonetheless represent an aspiration for so many gardeners, landscapers and horticulturalists, both amateur and professional. The existence of artificial grass in Tony Smith’s 2012 display, ‘Green with…’ showed manufactured synthetic grass alongside orchids, ferns and tulips, all of which have been seen as objects of desire at different historical periods. Has astroturf really become so emboldened as to compare itself alongside this magnificent floral trinity?
Well, no. In fact, it’s completely misleading to make comparisons between the plastic grass blade and the flower petal in this manner. Tony’s display never sought to compare the artificial with the real, but instead by lining the cage, in which the enviable flora are contained, in fake turf it’s more as if Tony is seeking to frame and juxtapose his subject matter. This is about contrast not comparison.
Contrast not Comparison
The contrast found in Tony’s display is true of many domestic gardens with artificial grass lawns. There is a general misapprehension that artificial grass intrudes upon the small slice of nature we find in our backyards and seeks to usurp it. I couldn’t disagree more. In many of the gardens we’ve worked on over the years, beautiful and varied flora remains pivotal to the look and feel of the spaces being created. Artificial grass provides a highly realistic and enduring canvas on which to create a floral masterpiece. For many aspiring gardeners and plant lovers with poor quality turf or constantly shaded lawns, artificial grass can be the only way to fully realise their vision.
Of course it would be misleading to say that the appeal of artificial grass is limited to the aesthetic. For most of us the garden serves a more functional role in the family home and most of our customers are initially attracted to the child / pet friendly appeal of our products as well as the durability and low maintenance. But as much as artificial grass can be a lifestyle choice for those with young families, busy lives and little to no time at all to tend to their garden, it can also be a lifestyle choice for the devotee with plenty of time to tend to his or her garden.
With huge advancements in the manufacturing process, modern astroturf is now bringing its own intrinsic aesthetic appeal that can transform, as well as complement any outside environment.
The realism of the modern product is so advanced now that fake lawns can look and feel eerily like the real thing, whilst retaining a perennial perfection that is unachievable with real turf all year round, especially in our unpredictable and increasingly extreme English weather.
Despite remaining a divisive issue amongst gardeners, come rain or shine, flowerbed or Wendy house, it seems that for an increasing number of us, artificial grass is here to stay.
About the Author: Anthony Gallagher is the Managing Director of artificial grass company Easigrass, a network of award-winning franchisees and international licensed partners. In 2010, under his leadership, Easigrass became the first artificial grass company in the world to exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show, then going on to win a Gold Medal in 2012. You can follow Easigrass on Twitter, Facebook or browse their YouTube channel.
Garden Design Trends 2014
According to some sources 2014 is going to see something of a gardening boom, now I’m not sure what you think i but i believe that we’ve been seeing a boom in gardening over the last few years and i think that what we’ll see in 2014 is a continuation of this growing trend in people trying to get back to nature.
Over the last couple of years there has been a real surge in the outdoor lifestyle and last summer in the UK i witness a big increase in the number of folks taking up outdoor pursuits. There has been an increase in social trends like glamping, lawn games and garden parties, there has record sales recorded in outdoor furniture and I’ve had an increased number of clients looking for bespoke structures, ornaments and sculptures.
“2014 is all about balance. People finally appreciate that being in nature and in the garden is true bliss. But now, they want the garden to do double duty: A Zen oasis and the social hub for entertaining,”
The Garden Media Group has recently released its Garden Trends 2014 Report and it makes interesting reading, it focuses on the American market but i’m sure that we’ll soon see these trends coming across the pond and hitting our garden centres and garden shows this year. “2014 is all about balance. People finally appreciate that being in nature and in the garden is true bliss. But now, they want the garden to do double duty: A Zen oasis and the social hub for entertaining,” says Katie Dubow, creative director of Garden Media.
This has always been an ethos of mine and something that I’ve wanted to try and create in even the smallest of spaces. My opinion is that people have always wanted to have beautiful outdoor spaces and that want these to be built with quality Eco-friend cost effective materials, which if your clever and know your market is achievable on almost any budget.
After many hours of research I’ve managed to breakdown what expert analyses are saying will be the garden design/gardening trends of 2014 down to the top 5, and some of these I’m already experiencing from my clients;
1. Sourcing Materials Locally – as previously mentioned, its becoming more and more important try and lower our carbon footprint and when it comes to sourcing materials for garden this would seem to be a forefront of most of my clients minds. Quality Materials from my local suppliers. Also i suspect that we’ll see a surge in the use of native plants the desire for the exotic will be much less.
2. Curves and Informality – straight lines, formal shapes and symmetry are all things for last year, according to certain sources anyway, and already I’m working on a design that is curvaceous and lacking in formality. But I’m not sure that all things formal will be gone as its not always possible to include curves in every design.
3. Wildlife Gardens– design, planting, and structures that attracted wildlife is going to be huge in 2014 and i’m sure that it will be a big focus in many of the show gardens at the RHS show’s in the coming months. Personally this has again been something that i have always tried to encourage my clients to embrace, gardens need wildlife to be bring them alive.
4. Garden Lighting – with the increase in social trends in the garden so it becomes important to spend as much time in the garden as possibly, and with the ever expanding garden lighting market there is now more choice than ever to light your outdoor space. Clever lighting can really help to enhance a space and make it usable on a dull autumn night.
5. Low Maintenance Gardens – This is probably no surprise to any designer or landscaper reading this, and its no surprise to me either. People work hard and want to have smart and easy gardens that don’t take up all of there down time. Expect to see an increase in easy manage planting schemes and smaller lawns and clever concepts to bring the maintenance of gardens.
One other trend that we’ll start to see around the country in 2014 is the greening of urban spaces, more and more people are looking to try and improve their urbanscapes in cost effective ways and a cheaper and smarter solution that than total regeneration is using the spaces for green areas – mark my words little pockets of green spaces will start to pop up all around you 2014. Nottingham watch this space!
I think 2014 is going to be very exciting year for garden design and i can’t wait to start to get my trowel into it!
Have good new years folks and i hope you enjoyed my Garden Design Trends blog.
The Rafflesia, Cat Poo Coffee and Something Special!
A few months ago i was lucky enough to have the chance to travel to Indonesia on a plant hunting expedition to find the worlds biggest flower, the Rafflesia arnoldii. A plant that many people will never get the opportunity to see in bloom in the wild, it was my time to dust of the Indiana Jones hat and whip I’d had since i was kid, like many folks I’m sure i was somewhat obsessed with Steven Spielberg’s creation and i finally had my chance to experience first hand what it must’ve felt like to be heading out on an exhibition into the unknown! A little dramatic you might say, well you might be right but i don’t care i felt just like the crazy archeologist and i was excited to see what the jungles of Indonesia had in store for me. so my adventure begins….
I touched down at Jakarta Airport late in the evening and had to get a taxi across the city to my digs, at 0800hrs i had to be up and ready to get a taxi to the bus station in order to get a bus to take me to the next island of Sumatra. So i got my head down in my rather bizarre surroundings that was a cross between student accommodation and a bed breakfast, but i was too tired to worry and too excited to care, at least the bed was comfy.
Jakarta by day is a completely different experience to Jakarta at night, at night there was almost a stillness across it, but by day its a heaving, pulsing, living entity, it a crazy manic experience and i was looking forward to getting out of it. Now, being ripped off by taxi drivers is almost a given in Jakarta, so after weaving my way across the city and being taken to two different bus stations i finally reach my destination. Pulo gadung bus station, which according to locals is the busiest bus station in Jakarta and I’ve no doubt that this statement is true, if i said it felt like I’d step onto the set of Mad Max only with buses and mango sellers I’d be under describing it you. I went and purchased my ticket, and was told that the bus would be leaving in an hour.
With only five minutes to go till our bus was due to leave the woman who sold me and my companion Stephen our tickets came across with instructions to follow her, so, off we went, in another taxi whizzing around the bus terminal till we came to our ‘bus’. One thing I’ll say is that they like to bend the true slightly when it comes to the transport you’re getting in Indonesia and also the time it takes to get anywhere, this journey was suppose to take 18 hours. My later experiences would confirm this habit of truth bending. When i booked the ticket i was shown a picture of a luxury coach with blacked out windows and leather reclining seats, now in hindsight alarm bells should’ve started ringing as soon as i looked around the bus terminal; there wasn’t a single one of these luxury coaches to be seen anywhere. To say the bus we were taken to was a death trap is no understatement, but little did i know the hellish experience we were about to encounter.
I’ll keep it brief, this is meant to be a blog about my expedition in the jungle not about the journey there. That being said it would be wrong of me not to mention that my supposed 18 hour journey turned into an excruciating, smoked filled, sickly baby twins, cockroach infested, toilet over flowing, broken seat, euro trance, stop ever hour, stick chillis on the roof, nearly driving off a cliff in the dead of night, Jackie Chan movie marathon horror journey. I actually feared for my life at points, some of the death-defying speeds and turns the driver took where straight out an action movie. Anyway i survived, just, and I’d reach my destination – Buckit Tingii
That being said it would be wrong of me not to mention that my supposed 18 hour journey turned into an excruciating, smoked filled, sickly baby twins, cockroach infested, toilet over flowing, broken seat, euro trance, stop ever hour, stick chillis on the roof, nearly driving off a cliff in the dead of night, Jackie Chan movie marathon horror journey.
Buckit Tingii was to be my base camp for getting ready for the next stage of the expedition; our hike into the unknown. Our adventure was to begin the next morning. In the morning of our trip we were met by our guide who loaded our stuff onto the roof of a blatant chop-shop car/bus hybrid and off we went on the 40 minute journey to the foothills of the Batang Palupuh national park. Here we swapped guides and went through our safety checks; water, check! first aid kit, check! change of clothes, check! waterproofs, check! rope, check! and so on.
Fully briefed and feeling excitably anxious about the next 24 hours off we set. Our guide, Andre, was very pleased that he was escorting two Englishman in the jungle, he was pleased because he had the chance to practice his English on us. As we set off Andre explained that the village we were walking through to find the trail was his village and they make their money from two things, jungle treks to see the Rafflesia and Luwak Coffee that was collected from the surrounding jungle by the villagers.
Luwak Coffee I ask? Now, I’d heard of this but I’d always assumed it was a gimmick you gave to someone at Christmas, for those of you that have never heard of this, its coffee that has been passed through the stomach and bowels of a Cevit Cat (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). Yep you read that right its basically cat poo coffee. Andre informed me he had some with him and when we stopped he make us some. I couldn’t wait.
The walk out of the village had us passing rice fields, coffee plants, pepper trees, and hundreds of other plants, we also saw villagers returning with civet scat ready for it to be processed. As we reach the trail that was to take us into the jungle the walk began to steadily move upwards and a seemingly gentle climb began to turn into a wet, muddy, climb up steep banks, and down into shallow dips and back up again. This continued for for what felt like hours, it was in fact only two.
We stopped, and Andre true to his word brewed us a tin mug of Luwak Coffee. Andre went on to tell us about the trade and to explain that in recent years it had been marred by reports of civet farming and he was quick to assure us that his village was one of only a few that still collected the beans from the poo of civets that live in the wild. He said that his village has been collecting this way for hundred of years and that this made it one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
I was intrigued, I’m not sure why as i don’t drink coffee, honestly this was only the second cup I’d ever had in my life and i couldn’t tell you whether it was good or not but Stephen rest assures me it was very good indeed. So, cups away, all food waste bag and took with us and off we went we were hoping to reach our camp in the next few hours, we’d sleep see the flower in the morning and then head back out of the jungle.
Every so often Andre would stop us and point out an exotic plant specimen, but unfortunately he English wasn’t good enough to be able to give us anything but the Indonesian names which was a shame but still it didn’t detract from beauty of the plants. On we pushed to camp, after scaling waterfalls, dodging monitor lizards in the streams, spotting peacocks and spiders .
Within an couple of hours we had reached our destination; Camp. Camp is not the right word, mattress under a plastic sheet with a fire, but after the trek we’d been on, it looked like a 5* four post bed. We sat down for tea; a simple meal of rice, beans, spices and egg wrapped in banana leaf that had been prepared for us by Andres wife, that was warmed up on the camp fire. It was delicious, fantastic in fact, better than most, if not all of the restaurant food we’d tried and on a par with the street food we preferred. We chatted for a while over dinner, whilst the sun sank, it was at this point that we were treated to one of the most amazing natural phenomenon anyone can wish to see. At first i thought i was seeing a meteor shower but Andre kindly pointed out it was something better, it was Fireflies dancing around the sky. Fireflies, Bintang, great food and great company, what a way to top off a very exiting day.
The next day we woke up with the sunrise, packed, ate breakfast, tidied camp for the next lot and set off. Andre said that we weren’t far away from seeing the Rafflesia, but before that he had something special to show us. After a short walk i could Andre was excited about what was a round the corner, but i was not prepared to see an Arum Titan (Amorphophallus titanum) it was not in bloom but it was there in front of me in the wild! It was massive, and a real joy. I couldn’t thank Andre enough because I’d not been expecting to to see this. A few photos later and we were off to try to find our main goal the Rafflesia arnoldii.
It didn’t take long at all to reach the rafflesia but we could smell them before we could see them and what a stench it was like. Its no exaggeration when they say it smells like rotten meat, it really does. There was a one in bloom, a couple in bud and one that had passed it best. They’re massive too at least 800mm across in bloom. They were truly a magnificent sight one that made all the horrors of the journey here pale into insignificance and made the trek all the more worth while.
Now that i reach them, photographed them, and smelled them, we had to get back out the jungle! Stay tuned to my website to read about my visit to La Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens of Granada, Spain.
How to brighten up a sunny spot!
Garden design isn’t just about hard landscaping in this article we’ll give you hints on how to use planting to change your garden.
This planting plan is all about giving you ideas and inspiration for really sunny and parched locations in your garden. The plants that i have included are here because they will cope well in a sunny location, but its important to remember its best to plant them early in the year to give them plenty of time to get established. These plants have a great mixture of shapes, textures, and foliage.
The Verbena will give structure and colour and acts as a back drop to rest of the plan, the yuccas will bring an architectural dimension to the scheme, the lambs ears (stachys byzantina) have fantastic slivery green furry foliage that will help to soften the harsh points of the yucca. The Hebe will bring added volume and will provide an interesting contrast against lambs ears and the luscious carpet of delicate pinky-red Erigeron that sweeps its way around the front of the plan. A couple of things to remember when planting your scheme;
- Add plenty of organic material to location where you are planting. This will be of benefits to all soil types so even if you have great soil it can’t do any real harm.
- Mulch – I tend to use gravel mixed into the soil to help to retain moisture and keep the plant roots cool.
- Plant in spring or summer – so now folks- this will give plants the best chance of getting themselves established. A good system is so important for plants that are located in hot, dry areas of your garden.
- Its important to only use plants that are suitable for location that you are planting in – i know that sounds like common sense but hot dry soil is so tough that some plants will never succeed in it.
- Lastly – remember to always soak your plants in their pots first before planting the ground, sit in buckets until the bubbles stop then plant away.
- Verbena bonariensis x 5
- Yucca gloriosa x 3
- Stachys byzantina x 6
- Erigeron karvinskianus x 7
- Hebe ‘Red Edge’ x 5
Living Walls: The (Not So) Latest Trend
People have been talking about ‘living walls’ for a while now and they’re rapidly growing in popularity. In fact, they have now become the latest design trend in the modern sustainability movement.
75 Years of Green Walls
Living walls, also called vertical gardens or eco-walls, are panels of plants that are grown vertically either on free-standing structures or on structures directly attached to a wall. Breath-taking to view and providing impressive health benefits, green walls have become so popular in the last few years that you might think this is a new concept but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Green walls were in fact first patented back in the 30s – in 1938 to be exact by Stanley Hart White. Green walls didn’t become famous for another 70 years however, when Patrick Blanc created his show-stopping Vegetal wall installation at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
But what makes them so special? And why do people love them that much? Beautifying any type of environment with their great design features is undoubtedly a first good explanation. However, there is more to living green walls than meets the eye.
Good for the Environment
As you may know, plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen-rich air, which is why they are essential to our survival on this planet. What less people know however is that plants also help to filter the air by absorbing and removing pollutants.
It has been proven that green infrastructures help improve the air quality in urban street canons where you typically find high percentages of air pollutants. Green walls can reduce the air contamination in such places by a whopping 40 to 60%!
Easy on the Eyes and Ears
But this is not all – living green walls also help to reduce energy costs as they provide a very good insulation system, which also helps to reduce noise levels. Plants have long been used for such means along noisy roadways as they naturally block high frequency sounds, while the structure of a green wall helps to reduce low-frequency sounds too. In an urban environment, this can have a major impact.
This exceptional combination of beautiful design and great health benefits is what makes living walls so appealing. It has taken time, but they are finally recognized as excellent features to enhance our urban environment. Some people even think that they might be the key to our survival in urban places in the future! What do you think?
Gardening Tips: Things to do in….March
I sometimes think, especially when you aren’t a confident gardener, that you can look out your window onto your garden and feel somewhat disheartened at the sight that lays before you. It is often very difficult to understand where to start when faced with a garden that has not been touched since the start of autumn. Well I thought that I would try and lessen this burden by providing you with some gardening tips for the coming month that should help brighten your garden and give you something that can fill anywhere from half an hour to a whole spring.
- Apply residual weed killer to paths and gravelled areas now to prevent weeds from developing – remember do it when we have a dry few days.
- Good fun thing to do with the kids – do a snail hunt! Getting the snails at this time of the year will prevent them from breeding and spreading saving you time later.
- Lift and divide any perennials. This will mean you can spread them out get them distributed more evenly.
- Prune hard for new growth, many hardy shrubs can be pruned heavily each year. It will promote strong shoots and great foliage.
- Now is the time to start to plan your borders and get planting out ready for the summer display. (check out my previous blog on hot borders here http://want2garden.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/plants-for-a-hot-border/)
- Apply fertiliser around the base of shrubs in particular any roses you have!
- Prepare the soil where you intend to grow hardy annuals next month.
If you have any gardening, planting or design question/problems that you would like me to answer please feel free to email me on Richard@rplgardendesign.co.uk…… and I will be more than happy to get back to you, and you never know we may well include it in my next blog!
Vietnam Horticulture …Part 2
Vietnam Horticulture ….part 1
Planting Plan | Add some structure to your garden
The idea of this planting plan is to help provide a solid foundation on which to build going forward. As we gardeners say ‘gardens grow’. So use this planting plan to give your garden all year round interest. The plant list can be used a guide so don’t worry if you can’t find the exact variety, any helpful garden centre or nursery will be able to give you any alternative that will work just as well. In this planting plan I aim to give an area of you garden some structure by adding some height and depth. I have also left room for some perennials which can be under-planted with bulbs, I’ve suggested using Asters and Alliums but you could use whatever is your favourite.
Key to the planting Plan
- Taxus baccata x 10 to make a hedge.
- Prunus serrula x 1
- Hebe ‘Champagne’ x 3
- Osmanthus delavayi x 3
- Arbutus unedo x 1
- Space for putting bulbs, annuals and perennials.
- Pittosporum tobira x 5
Garden Design Nottingham | Planting Plan | Horticulture | Planting Design | Plant Advice
Planting Design: Plants for a hot border
Hot, Bright and Beautiful….. No this isn’t a personal ad for me its actual the latest craze to be sweeping across gardens, both show and domestic. It is of course the introduction of a hot, fiery border; what’s a hot border? Well it’s a grouping of plants with exotic foliage and bright colours, although this is nothing new; Glebe Cottage for example has had a hot border for over 20 years, what is new and exciting is the range of plants available. And now, March through to April is the time that you need to be getting out there and getting the plants in the ground ready for their emergence in June and September. Planning is key if you are to make the most of your garden so why no draw up a planting design to help you get the plants in the right place. So without further ado here are the fellas that I reckon should be included in a hot border.
Exploding splinters of fire-red, funnel-shaped flowers appear in mid July through to September among attractive mid-green leaves. This ‘hot’ bulbous perennial is a perfect specimen for a mixed or herbaceous border, it does very well in a sunny but sheltered against wind site. To see this in its full glory plant it in slightly daring large drifts. It responds well in a moderately fertile, humus-rich, but well-drained soil.
Rudbeckia ‘Little Gold Star’
This is relative newcomer, its excellent for attracting pollinators into garden. It pretty stocky and compact black-eyed Susan that will give a rather decent display from July onwards. The yellow daisy-like flowers are very vivid and they perch on top of firm branching stems rising above the profuse mounds of rich green foliage. Standing just approximately 40-50cm, it would suit a patio/deck pot, but I would suggest sticking near the front of a mixed or herbaceous border to try to stretch out some seasonal interest.
These are not the easiest of plants to have in your garden, they have rhizomes that will require protection over the winter period, this can be done by simply piling soil up around the plant prior to the cold snap. But boy are these guys worth the effort, they in a number of colours including yellows, creams, and my favourite orange. They are tall, structurally interesting perennials that are best suited at the back of the border or in jungle-themed gardens. They have large, lush lance-shaped leaves and bottlebrush-like bunches of beautifully scented flowers.
Hemerocallis ‘Frans Hals’
This pretty but unusual daylily produces an abundance of rusty red and orange coloured flowers that will continue throughout the summer. Every one of the delicate flowers has three burnt orange outer petals and three almost copper inner petals with a noticeable hot yellow midrib. Like the Crocosmia this plant looks striking when planted in drifts as part of a mixed or herbaceous border. The bright green, strap-like leaves are known to be evergreen in milder areas, but probably not this far north. They are also known to be good natural weed suppressors.
The important things is that in order to get this going its you need to a) get it done now and be don’t be afraid to experiment with combinations and trying planting in drifts for a real big impact.
for more ideas why not contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Planting Ideas: Shady spots don’t have to be blank spots!
Planting Ideas or as us in the garden design world call it ‘A Planting Plan’ are sometimes a more cost effective and easy way to rejuvenate your garden – In my experience implementing a carefully considered and well structure planting plan can invigorate a tired garden. And can, if done correctly accentuate hard landscape elements that had previously been considered past its best! Saving no end of money.
Shady spots are probably one of my biggest client demands, people always seem to struggle with them, but lets be honest don’t exactly live on a sun drench desert island. There are tonnes of great shady loving plants out there! Personally I love shady borders its gives me a chance to use some of my favourite plants, which I mix together to give little sparks throughout the year.
The planting ideas i’ve come up with for this planting plan covers an area of roughly 10m2 but it can easily be done in smaller areas by removing some of the bigger specimen plants. Remember planting in clumps looks more natural so avoid planting singular or paired unless its large shrub or tree like the Amelanchier included in here.
Planting your garden up is my opinion, more often that not a case of trial and error, so don’t be afraid to come up with your own planting ideas, whats the worst that can happen? You lose a few plants! A least you know – one word to the wise though before you start its worth drawing up your own planting plan so that you end up with a plot that looks confused!
Key to the planting plan
- Amelanchier lamarckii x 1
- Anemanthele lessoniana x3
- Sarcococca ruscifloia chinensis x 3
- Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ x 6
- Dicentra spectabilis x 9
- Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’ x 17
Nottingham Garden Design | Planting Ideas | Planting Plans | Horticulture | Landscapers Nottingham