Week 17 – An olive tree. Well nearly.
Outside of gardens, living walls, trees and plants, one of my favourite things is enjoying a well earned martini. Perhaps there is some similarity. After all there are endless varieties of martini to enjoy, all with their own unique colours, aromas and flavours. They’re all different and they’re all great. Some of them even come with an olive which brings me back to thinking about gardens…
Week 16 – A head for heights
Whilst Adam is enjoying the delights of rural Devon I have been getting to enjoy the delights of a building site on Old Street. Lucky me. Actually the view from the roof terrace is pretty good, especially on a sunny day. It is nice to know that it will be even better in a few months once we have installed a large living wall that tracks the shape of the neighbouring building’s gable end. My only slight concern is all the working at height we will be doing – I’d have taken a photo of the view to the pavement but I didn’t dare get that close to the edge of the terrace!
Week 15 – A fledgling blog post
With business booming and hundreds of meters of living wall to create Adam has fallen behind on his weekly blog posts. A long way behind. I have agreed to step in and lend a hand. For my first post I thought I should write about my own living wall which we created almost exactly a year ago. The living wall is located in our side return and is in full view from our large kitchen windows. This spring it has proven to be a massive distraction for my children with meals and homework endlessly interrupted. The reason? Well we have had robins nesting in the corner of the living wall and so every time they swoop in or out we all look up and watch the robins. They don’t like to leave the nest for more than a few seconds at a time so the distractions are pretty much constant! If you look closely you’ll see the mother tucked away amongst the Asarum caudatum. Beautiful.
Week 14 – Fairy wings or horny goat weed?
I love Epimediums. Also known as barrenwort, bishop’s hat, fairy wings, horny goat weed or yin yang huo in Chinese. The majority of species come from China with a huge range of forms and species, many of which make a great choice for my living walls as they prefer a moist environment. Handy. They can be evergreen or deciduous and there are so many to choose from it makes my eyes water. I’ll be testing various varieties in my living walls throughout 2018 and will, I’m sure, slowly edit my selection down to a half dozen… yeah right, as if… make that two dozen. They’re just too fabulous.
Epimedium x perralchicum ‘Frohnleitun’, forms beautiful spreading evergreen ground cover and has the most wonderfully delicate yellow flowers. Perfect for creating wonderful flashes of brightness amongst the mottled greens and reds of it’s equally fabulous foliage. Like I said, I love epimediums.
Week 13 – Asplenium trichomanes
Easy to miss, Asplenium trichomanes or Maidenhair Spleenwort, whilst delicate looking is actually extremely hardy (H6 – which is down to −20 °C). The leaves of this species are composed of numerous tiny leaflets held onto a wiry deep brown central stem which comes from the centre of the rosette. Numerous rosettes make a clump.
It’s one of our native evergreen ferns which grows in a range of rocky habitats, including cliffs, rock faces, screes, and perhaps now most commonly, on walls. Yes, walls! Of course they do. I’ve seen them! How could I have not used this fern already in one of my schemes? Maybe because they are so unassuming. They don’t shout out at you saying ‘use me, I’m a beautiful fern’. So they get overlooked. But it will be ignored no longer. I intend to test the little Spleenwort out and include it in my next living wall. Mixed in with some Soleirolia soleirolii, moss and a few other ferns, it’ll look ace, just as it does in nature. They are however tiny and I’m going to need a lot of them, so I better get plant hunting. (Lucky for me they grow like weeds in devon!)
Week 12 – My Favourite Tree
On friday I flew home from the sunny south of Fance to the snowy south of England. Driving home from Bristol airport the weather got wilder, colder and as I neared home suddenly very much snowier. Now I know everyone has been getting a bit carried away with beautiful photos of everything ‘snowy’ including me, but this shot simply sums up my love of south Devon. A wind sculpted Ash that looks amazing most days, but on this particular wintery evening, looked simply stunning. I know when I see this tree I’m almost home, and on this particular occasion I was very very glad to see it…
Week 11 – Villefranche sur Mer
This week I returned to France to check on a garden we created in 2015. It’s always nice to return to see how things are developing albeit with a certain amount of nerves. You never know how your planting plans are going to develop… it might have turned into a shambles! I am pleased to report however that the garden is looking rather good. No death, disasters, or disease here just happy healthy plants that are all maturing as they should. I’m now heading back to Devon and more snow!
Week 10 – Tom Massey
I’m starting my next wall in a few weeks which is destined for a very nice garden in Richmond designed by the charming, talented, RHS gold medal winning, Tom Massey. As always I’ll be experimenting with my plant selection and this time I’m looking to include a number of fabulous Epimedium’s including the stunning Epimedium stellatum ‘Wudang Star’.
Week 9 – London Calling
The full TLA team all met up in London this week to install not one but two living walls. Alan and the Stevington squad brought their walls for a fab courtyard in Highgate whilst I (the current Devon team) brought up my latest offering which slotted straight into a wonderfully modern garden in St Johns Wood designed by John Davies. John’s a fabulous designer who we’ve produced a number of living walls for over the years and you can see his beautiful portfolio of gardens here.
Week 8 – The Beast from the East
Snow, sledging and slipping around. I fleeced up the living wall that I’ve just finished (installing next week in St. John’s Wood) and headed for the slopes! Well, our own personal sledging field which sometimes doubles as a farm. Much fun was had by all including yours truly.