Back to Basics Again: Soil.

This week the importance of soil has featured quite high on the list with clients.

Soil is the medium in which plants grow.

The pH of the soil   and its structure influence the types of plants that can be grown.

Soils can be Neutral, Acid or Alkaline.

Structure varies form sand to silt and then clay.

Sand has large air spaces, while clay has very little.

Soil contains nutrients for plants to grow.

Both the nutrient level and structure can be improved with compost.

It is worth considering making your own from either leaves , grass or vegetable matter.

Various containers can be bought for this.

Mulch is also useful as a means of containing soil moisture and nutrient content.

Plants take water and nutrients from the soil to grow.

Care should be taken to replenish this loss.



Gardens revisited.

This week I have returned to a garden that I designed a couple of years ago.

It was very enjoyable to see how things have developed.

In any occupation it is useful to have feed back.

What better way to achieve this than to revisit the garden.

Some of my ideas about shape of beds and use of space have proved useful.

Clients are individuals .

With experience a Garden Designer becomes accustomed to the fact that the client must use their garden in a way that suits them best.

Garden Designers are there to facilitate change ,impart some knowledge and give encouragement.

This garden reflected these aims.

June is a wonderful time to visit gardens.

Recharging my batteries.

I have been busy designing since March.

There is therefore a need to rest and think about new ideas.

Reading is one way.

I have recently bought two good books.

One is  William Robinson’s Wild Gardening.

The other is Gertrude Jekyll’s Colour Schemes for the Flower Garden.

They were both very influential in establishing planting design as we know it today.

I look forward to a chance to discover more about both these authors and their work.

I am sure this new understanding will add depth to my knowledge.

It will also help inspire me to create gardens with colour and sympathy to the natural landscape.


Getting to grips with Garden Design.

My work this week has lead me to consider what Garden Design is all about.

Here are a few ideas.

It is about change.

Change in use of space.

Change in fashion of styles of planting.

Perhaps change in Garden Accessories ,such as furniture.

A change in the atmosphere of the garden.

Change in the actual substrate for planting. Often soil needs lots of stuff to be added to it . This will improve the chance for growing success.

Effort is needed to bring about a mental change to the concept of the garden.

Physical effort is needed to actually make the changes.

Contemplating having a Garden Designer and making changes in the garden therefore needs to considered with care.



Deserves a close look.

A friend of mine has spent many years putting poles and vivid tape around plants on the grass verges near her home.

She catalogues the wild flowers.

Last week Matthew Wilson of the FT wrote an article about such dedicated volunteers.

Our grass verges are the home of some rare wild flowers, such as Bee Orchid and Sea fern-grass.

Plantlife, the UK charity that lobbies  for  protection of wildflowers , has launched a campaign to raise the profile of verges as a significant bastion of wild plants and genetic diversity.

They hope to encourage local authorities  to think again about  mowing the verges between March and August.

This is when the plants flower.

Dorset has set the example.

Let us hope that the rest of the Local Authorities will follow this example.


London Festival of Architecture.

1–30th June 2014. Various Venues Around London.

There are lots of interesting talks, including one by Will Self June 9th.

Also The proposed Garden Bridge Project is discussed.

There are tours and workshops.

The Garden Museum will be involved.

This is for enthusiasts, families and young people.


This England!

This week end I visited  Stowe .

This is a wonderful example of the English Landscape Gardens created by William Kent and “Capability” Brown.

 After taking in the magnificent view across the whole area I asked myself “How did they  do it”?

It is probable best to leave this aside and concentrate on the amazing vistas.

Every where you look sweeping views  take you to a focal point.

Stretches of grassland are mixed with trees and lakes.

Light coloured paths lead you on a journey through natural  meadows towards sand coloured bridges and Ancient Temples.

Elsewhere are hidden grottos and cascades of water.

The day provided relaxation and contemplation.

It is always useful to give yourself some space from the pressures of daily life to visit a place where time can stand still.

At least for one day!