Week 24 – Planting in Nottingham
I returned to Nottingham last week to check that the plants were developing as expected… they are. The Euphorbia wulfenii, Digitalis “Helen of Troy’, Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, and Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ are all knitting together nicely under a canopy of pinnate leaves of the multi stemmed Rhus typhina.
Week 23 – Planting our latest green wall.
We’re all quite excited at TLA HQ as we start to plant our new batch of living walls ‘off-site’ at our new nursery space. This will allow us to plant our walls in advance of delivery to site which is good for lots of reasons. Most importantly, the planting in advance means a more mature and developed wall at the point of installation so our clients ultimately get an improved product. We also reduce the time we need to spend on site so it becomes far easier to install our living walls as part of wider garden schemes. On a more selfish level, it is also a joy to work in the peace and quiet of the countryside where all we can hear is the birds chirping away and not the sound of builders, scaffolders and traffic!
Week 22 – Half-term holiday in Norfolk
Relaxing with the family is always a time to reflect, let my mind settle and allow my eyes to see the world around me again. The north norfolk coast is an amazing place full of wildlife and wide colourful skies. Slowing down the pace of life is essential for my soul to survive and it’s often when I notice the most simple beautiful things around me.
Week 21 – What is a show garden?
The “Chelsea Flower Show”, what can I say, am I alone in feeling confused? Is that a show garden over there or is it a trade stand? Can I tell the difference? Do I care anymore? Well yes actually I do. My problem is that I just don’t understand what is so interesting about re-creating a familiar landscape from elsewhere. This seems to be a safe route and one that more and more are following. Be it a quarry in Malta, a vineyard in France, a piece of Dartmoor or a slice of Tuscany. It’s all very ‘inspiring’ apparently. A piece of the moon might be more interesting. I want to see designers developing original ideas and creating inspiring spaces, not showing me how well they can reproduce a ‘scene’ from another location. To my eyes this is just a display of technical ability. Over the years many designers have chosen to delve a little deeper. In 1997 Christopher Bradley Hole’s ‘Latin Garden’ was inspired by a Roman poet and won best in show. Diarmuid Gavin’s 2004 garden drew inspiration from the national lottery and Sarah Ebele’s 2007 garden “600 days with Bradstone” represents the personal space of an Astronaut on a 600 day tour of duty and was an investigation into the psychological effects of long term stay in space. Now that’s what I consider an original and exciting ’show garden’.
Week 20 – Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’ is an amazing, beautiful, delicate and very useful little plant.
Spike moss is another of my little secret weapons. I use it in the same way and often alongside soleirolia soleirolii as an effective ‘surface’ cover. Close cousins to the true ferns, it forms a low creeping mat of feathery leaves. It prefers moist to wet and shady conditions. This variety has leaves of bright chartreuse yellow, forming a beautiful carpet that lends itself to creating all kinds of interesting contrasts when used in one of our living walls.
Week 19 – More living wall maintenance in Knightsbridge
This week it was all back to Knightsbridge to check on another of our walls. Although very different in scale to the pair of walls we visited last week, this little living wall packs a real punch. I have to admit it is one of my personal favourites. It’s packed full of flowers and it is packed full of fun. Fuchsia ‘Hawkshead’ and Erigeron karvinskianus are currently stealing the show but there’s lots of other delights waiting in the wings ready for their star turn. Move over… Bravo!
Week 18 – Knightsbridge living wall maintenance
Last week we were back in Knightsbridge carrying out our regular health check on the pair of living walls we installed last year. I was delighted to see that the plants are knitting together beautifully to create a wonderful green tapestry. Liriope muscari, Soleirolia soleirolii, Euonymus fortunei ‘Harlequin’, Brunner macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Carpet’, Asarum europaeum and Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’ with their differing leaf shape, colour and size have combined to create a picture that I rarely predict correctly. That’s the joy of experimenting with plant varieties and planting combinations… surprise!
This week I returned to a garden we planted last year in Pinner, North West London. I grew up in neighbouring Stanmore and for one reason or another I still find it emotionally challenging to return to the area. On this visit, to my delight, I arrived to find the garden is doing very well. The sort of very well that means more well than one could ever have hoped for. Healthy plants, developing perfectly are knitting together and harmonising in such a way that leads to an end result that is more than the constituent parts. So, I would like to say a heart felt thank you to the plants for reminding me that it is they that are the stars of the show and it is they who are actually in control of what us designers like to try and take credit for. Plants take a bow. I simply planted you. You did the rest. Bravo.
Week 16 – Maintenance
This week I returned to Nottingham to check on one of our living walls. We like to return to each installation every three months to top up the liquid feed, monitor the health and progress of the plants and to undertake any pruning or plant replacement as required. This particular wall is now into it’s second year, is in fine health and starting to mature nicely. The hydrangea are putting on a bit of scale, the Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ (or slender sweet flag) is forming a striking sweep, the ferns are romping away and the hellebores are very happy indeed. If the plants are happy, then I’m happy and that usually means the client is happy too. As Alan is fond of saying – JD (job done).
Week 15 – Dartmoor
Last week I was in Devon with my family (week two of the Easter holidays) and it was fantastic. Walking on Dartmoor is always a pleasure and I often also find it quite humbling. As we start up the increasingly steep hill that climbs out of the picturesque village of Lustleigh you can’t help but notice the increasing numbers of amazing granite boulders slowly appearing from out of the undergrowth. Nearing the top of the long steady climb the woods slowly disappear, the sky grows wide and the view opens up. We stop for our picnic on top of the ridge among the ancient rocks and boulders that are known as ‘clitter’. The quiet stillness is water for the soul and the fresh air feels pure in my lungs. I am alive and I feel happy. My two children, Olive 9 and Frankie 7 follow in my footsteps and we all walk an impressive 7.5 miles. I’m delighted to share one of my favourite pastimes with them, and they seem to enjoy it too!