Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.
One of the smallest services performed by us this month was actually one of the most enjoyable. After all, even the smallest job takes on a certain cachet, when it entails visiting RHS Chelsea.
The CAMFED Garden designed by Jilayne Rickards, bringing Zimbabwe to Chelsea. Photo credit: Helen Gazeley.
Attention to detail is an aspect of the job that we take really seriously at Landscaping Solutions, and if there’s one place you’ll find it in spades, it’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Jilayne Rickards, for whom we were delivering materials to add some finishing touches to what was her first Chelsea show garden, designed the CAMFED Garden - promoting “Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow”, an initiative by the Campaign for Female Education. Intended to bring rural Africa to central London, it incorporated an open-air classroom to underline CAMFED’s commitment to education. Made using the same techniques employed in Zimbabwe, it has a completely authentic air.
Mark Gregory’s Welcome to Yorkshire garden at RHS Chelsea 2019. Photo credit: Helen Gazeley.
Further down Main Avenue, Mark Gregory created his second show garden for Welcome to Yorkshire. Last year, his Gold-winning design recreated a hillside complete with stone bothy and trickling beck. This year a canal scene incorporated two full-size sets of genuine lock gates, towpath and, behind the scenes, fifteen different pumps creating the water effect.
Dramatic, certainly, and Mark’s in particular generated a huge amount of media interest…but are they gardens? It’s a question that raises its head every year. After all, is anyone coming to the show really going to go home determined to put a Yorkshire waterway in the back garden, any more than they’ll want to install an African classroom?
Thinking like this misses the point. It’s easy to argue that there’s little for the public to take away from the Show Gardens and the RHS seem to have taken that on board with their introduction of Space to Grow gardens, a category which replaced the controversially contemporary Fresh Gardens last year.
Details make the picture in Jilayne Rickard’s CAMFED Garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2019. Copyright RHS. Credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle.
What these carefully constructed scenes do, though, is demonstrate attention to detail. Designers and builders reproduce a scene so faithfully on such a small area of ground that for a moment you’re there.
To create that moment, the attention to detail, not to mention the thought and planning behind it, is phenomenal. And if you can do that with a show garden, then how much more are you going to be able to think your way around a design conundrum in the real world and create the perfectly detailed garden for a client?
There’s been criticism in recent years about an apparent lack of attention to the plants and too much focus on design, but the show gardens at RHS Chelsea have a serious purpose: to demonstrate what designers and contractors at the height of their game are capable of achieving. Theatre? Yes. This is true performance.
Landscaping Solutions is no stranger to the accuracy and attention to detail required by gardens like these. Apart from five BALI award-winners, we’ve constructed several Gold and Silver-Gilt award-winning gardens at RHS Hampton Court.
Light at the End of the Tunnel, Matthew Childs Gold-winning garden at Hampton Court Flower Show 2012.
Part of Landscaping Solutions’ vision is to create a fulfilling work environment for our staff because teamwork is at the heart of award-winning gardens. Our teams love a challenge, and show gardens give us the chance to show our true colours in a place where there’s no place to hide. Next month we’ll be putting all our skills to work for the fourth time at Hampton Court Flower Show, for Michelle Brandon’s The Forest Will See You Now.
Come back next month for more details. In the meantime, for information on how Landscaping Solutions can put show garden detail into your outdoor space, contact Ben on 0208 2412402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s what you want from a garden and there’s what it and life impose on you. That’s where garden design and skilful landscaping step in - to marry the two into a something that meets your vision, services your needs and deals with its problems in a satisfactory manner. Oh, and looks good too.
Timber slatted fencing increased the privacy of the garden while the limited palette of colour, requested by the client, added to the calm elegance.
This garden in Barnes, south-west London, designed by Justin Greer, was built by us in 2012 and, we’re proud to say, garnered a BALI award for Domestic Garden Construction (costing between £30,000 and £60,000).
What were the problems? Well, it shared issues that we see frequently in London gardens. The plot is pretty much triangular, 10 metres wide at the house, narrowing to 2 metres along its 20-metre length. For tools and toys, it needed storage space that didn’t detract from the look of the garden, and it needed a greater sense of privacy from the houses close by.
In addition, drainage of rainwater from the rear extension had to be dealt with and, as happens so often with major garden projects, enormous changes were taking place in the house at the same time, the most major being the digging of a new cellar.
The triangular shape of the plot was very clear in the garden before its makeover.
These are merely obstacles that we meet frequently in the course of our work, however. Certainly they were nothing to interfere with our mission to remove the dilapidated decking patio and completely replace the existing unstructured and obviously awkwardly shaped garden with an enticing, more formally laid-out space that would indulge the clients’ desire to be outdoors, relaxing, dining and barbecuing with the family.
Creating the garden’s calm, relaxing atmosphere is garden designer Justin Greer’s strongly geometrical layout, with space for entertaining next to the house, a gas barbecue, a play area screened from the main garden and house. The whole has an elegant, timeless feel.
Sawn Yorkstone was used as a traditional paving and, here, benchtop, to complement the reclaimed bricks and old boundary wall.
Part of achieving this feel lies in the materials used. As anyone who’s been in an old London garden knows, the boundaries are usually tall walls, made of weathered London bricks. This was no different, but one of the boundary walls had reached demolition point, so it was replaced before we began work. This provided the ideal opportunity to create coherence in materials by matching design elements to the remaining boundary wall and we recycled the bricks into the raised beds and water feature. This required a fair amount of work in cleaning up the bricks - we also had to bring in some top-ups from the London Reclaim Brick Merchants - but it was worth it for the sense of age and history they add to the design.
Precise planting is absolutely necessary to make a formal garden design work.
Of course, a formal feel is more easily imposed on a regular-shaped plot - think Roman piazzas or Hampton Court’s Privy Garden.
Here, the hardwood screen not only hides the play area and storage shed but squares off the space in a backdrop to the pleached hornbeams, which in combination with box hedging, standard bay trees and Quercus Ilex add the backbone of formal planting. This needs to be placed precisely for the effect to work as planned, otherwise the eye is drawn to the one trunk that’s not quite in line.
Finally, underpinning the design are the foundations that make it work - the sump for the water feature, hidden beneath the polished pebbles, is reinforced to avoid it being damaged when people walk over it; the hard-landscaped areas drain into plant border and through the polished pebbles.
Polished pebbles create contrast with the sawn paving, as well as areas for rain to drain away.
And what about that rainwater draining off the extension? Hidden pipework takes the run-off along the east boundary and into a soak-away beneath the children’s trampoline, which was placed on artificial turf. This was to ensure the soak-away was away from the footings of the old wall, where it could have eventually made it unstable. It took careful planning and installation.
Also demanding a lot of planning, discussion, collaboration and co-operation was the fact that we had to build the deck before the light well was put down into the new cellar. As we explained in The Secret to a BALI Award-Winning Garden Design, communication is key to making sure a project runs smoothly, especially when you’re sharing the space with other contractors.
Strong horizontals slow the eye as you look down the garden, drawing attention away from the narrowing shape.
Thanks to preparation, communication and our team of skilled landscapers, the build was not only completed within the course of two months - August to September 2012 - but also gave us a BALI National Landscape Award Winner in 2013.
If you’re a garden designer and would like to discuss how we can help you with your next project, or if you have a garden would like more information on how we at Landscaping Solutions can help you with its design and landscaping, contact us on 0208 2412402 or email us at email@example.com.
Closed since 2013 for extensive restorations, the Grade I listed building and largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world is set to reopen its doors on 5 May, as the 5 year long and £41m restoration project nears completion.
Originally built in the 1860’s, Temperate House at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in south-west London, is still laid out according to the original design of its architect, Decimus Burton. Covering 4,880 square metres it houses an impressive collection of international, rare and almost extinct plants from places such as the the Mediterranean, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
When it first opened its doors to the public in 1863 crowds flocked for the chance to see plants and exotic environments, that previously could only have been read about. Although a huge success with the public the ambitious project unfortunately ran well over its original budget and wasn’t actually completed for another 40 years.
In a desperate attempt to control the spiralling budget cost cutting measures were implemented, some of which involved cheaper building materials and questionable construction methods. Unfortunately this meant that over a century later the condition of the structure had become a major issue.
To ensure its conservation, the major overhaul of Temperate House began back in 2013. For the restoration work to be carried out over 500 plants were potted up and moved to other nurseries within the gardens. Plants deemed too large and fragile to be moved were left in situ, with provisions made to box them in for protection.
Once all the plants were either moved or protected, restoration work could begin. Over the past 5 years every single glass panel has been replaced, decorative ironwork restored and rotten timber repaired. In addition to the restoration and repair work the entire heating system was also replaced with a more environmentally friendly and energy efficient system.
The restoration project has been a massive undertaking and with the grand reopening looming ever closer, teams of gardeners are now busy with the delicate task of replanting the vast number of plants in to their new beds. In fact, it is estimated that a staggering 10,000 plants (new and old) will eventually have been planted in time for the reopening.
We will certainly be paying the new Temperate House a visit once it reopens in May and if you would like to do so yourself, further information regarding the reopening can be found at kew.org.
Over the years its fair to say some Christmas traditions have certainly dwindled in their popularity (we’re looking at you - yule log) but as festive customs go, none have fared better than the humble Christmas tree.
An enduring symbol of Christmas, people have been bringing trees in to their homes at Christmas time for centuries, that much is certain. A little less certain however is how it all began.
Whilst a small handful of European cities argue over laying claim to the first documented use of the modern Christmas tree, most agree the tradition originated somewhere in central Europe, most likely early modern Germany, some time in the 1500s.
A picture from Germany in 1521 portrays a man on horse back dressed as a bishop (a possible reference to St. Nicholas), parading a tree through the streets. The first person attributed with bringing a Christmas tree into the home however was the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther.
In the early days the tree itself would have been decorated with handmade paper roses, apples, wafers and sweetmeats. It wasn’t until much later, the 18th century in fact, that trees began to be illuminated by candles. These of course were eventually replaced by Christmas lights with the arrival of electricity.
Some of the earliest Christmas Trees to arrive in the UK came sometime in the early 1800s. Queen Charlotte the German wife of George III is said to have set up the first known English Christmas tree at The Queen's Lodge, Windsor in December 1800.
It wasn’t until 1841 though that the tree gained real popularity, when Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert had a Christmas Tree set up in Windsor Castle. As a result the Christmas Tree very quickly become popular in the UK and USA and firmly sealed its place in British and American homes.
Traditionally an evergreen fir tree, Over time the Christmas trees in the UK have taken the form of a number of varieties, the Norway spruce the Nordmann fir, the Noble fir and the Blue spruce to name a few.
In certain parts of the world though it is not uncommon to find other species filling the role. In New Zealand for example they have the Metrosideros excelsa (dubbed the New Zealand Christmas tree), a coastal evergreen tree that produces a brilliant display of red flowers made up of a mass of stamens. It has been associated with Christmas since the mid 1800s and features heavily on a number of Christmas cards.
If all this talk of Christmas trees has sent you in to a needle-shedding panic, it might be worth visiting the British Christmas Tree Growers Association’s website for tips and advice on keeping your tree alive over the Christmas period.
We will of course be back in the New Year with more interesting and informative blog posts, covering a range of topics from landscape gardening and design through to industry trends, nature and the environment.
Until then though, from all the team at Landscaping Solutions, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.