Monday, November 30, 2009

Modified Diagonals

Teach says modify the diagonals after some heavy hints I find the notes in the course materials. Spent the afternoon fighting with modifying the diagonals, then my niece called and asked me to edit her CV and job applications for investment banks...MUCH simpler. Did that for an hour, fixed my printer, well half fixed and then went back to the diagonals.

D said this will be bread and butter client work which means it needs to take MUCH less time and to be MUCH more creative. I need more practice at this then. Have organized to design a friends garden over xmas which is similar in that the house sits in a large plot, very rural, awkward green spaces. It'll be excellent practice.

Better get back to modifying diagonals without losing the plot totally!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Project 2 - (draft) design 2

Well the 45 degree angle is pleasing the design still has a way to go but I like it in principle.


Sketch Up.... sharing the joy

A great friend has asked me to 'teach her' the basics of sketch up. She is already an accomplished garden designer so I am delighted to share the joys of it with her.

Well at least show her all the fabulous short cuts I have been able to glean and work with.

Sharing the joy could be fun!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Hedge laying got booted as an idea for these folks..ho hum.

We had some lively debate about the location of the veg plot including one wild suggestion that it could be located at a local allotment instead of in the garden. The design purists amongst the group nodded sagely, the rest of us smiled in hesitant disbelief. Design snobbery gone a little mad methinks!?!

I am also a little unsure that a statement, that fruit bushes will in fact grow in full shade, takes into account that they may well grow but imhe the don't give much sweet juicy fruit to speak of, without the old sunlight factor. I am sure someone will point out a cultivar or two that will perform in full shade.

After scouring a couple of John Brookes garden design books I am moving onto a 45 degree angle grid option to see if I can make something more interesting leap off the page. So far not so bad.

Am also planning on a spot of importing on the reference book front having been scared at the cost of the Vectorworks 2010 training manual. I have located it in the USA - NNA Training Guides for £20 less than a discounted UK price...good old exchange rate is back at 1.6 :)

Unhappily the exhaust sheered of the car on the way home so I am car-less for a wee while, not so good!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Project 2

Only 9 1/2 weeks in and struggling again with applying the 'rules'. The rules I can't make work for this one are Base Shape integrity and not having a 'droop' at the end of my pattern analysis. As you can see from an earlier post the house is off centre of the plot with a garden space to the side. Which reminds me I haven't got to grips with the side and front spaces of the house either. Maybe I missed the bit of the lecture when that was covered.

I have ideas about 'decoration' but frankly that is not going to cut it in tomorrows crit...maybe I should aim for a Friday Crit :)

This is one of them to deal with an escaping dog and encourage more wildlife into the garden.

Am beginning to wonder if attempting this in 1 yr was completely mad! Although the 3 yr option was never going to happen... so best just get on with it and hope for inspiration and clarity along the line

Blog Edits

This blog has been edited today and some posts removed, some updated, some placeholder posts written in their entirety.

Please forgive the lateness of the edits.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Instead of getting on with homework I spent this morning filtering and editing some shots to enter into IGPOTY. As D said "you have to be in it to win it!".

So at 9 days 32 hours and 37 minutes to go before the deadline I uploaded my 8 offerings and am 'in it'. And, although I am proud of the shots, given the competition (!) am not that expectant of getting anywhere.

Fingers x'd

From Collages

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Pool Man

This has been a busy and demanding week for all sorts of reasons and lack of sleep hasn't helped the gaff, so the idea of a whole day of 'pond talk' was a tough one. Staying vertical and open eyed, let alone attentive was going to be a challenge.

The Pool man in questioned turned out to be Martin Kelly from Fairwater who has been in the business for 30 yrs+ and trained with Anthony Archer-Wills. Not someone I have heard of but then this learning curve is steep and the research hardly begun!

At break neck speed he took us through the basics of: fountains, pools with chemicals (no plants, no fish), ponds (plants and fish but no chemicals), lakes (big ponds with bank eroding waves), natural swimming pools(eco swimming holes and jolly cold in the UK), reed beds (eco & almost free cleaning systems for ponds and pools), construction materials (75mm neoprene anyone?) some construction do's and don'ts (!), pumps and more.

Hardly had time to blink let alone sleep. So enthused is he about his subject that lunch break (1pm) arrived in no time and the end of class (3.30pm) just after that.
Great images of his work went along with plenty of entertaining anecdotal evidence to back up theories and practices.

It is always great to listen to an expert who clearly enjoys their work and of course who has a depth of knowledge and experience to answer detailed and sometimes unexpected questions.

D was recording him for the distance learning course that OCGD is planning to offer soon and of course for us to listen to again and extract all the detail we missed first time round.

I left knowing that whilst using a firm like this will add to a budget, that the expense will be well worth it!

Building begins

We had our first set of lectures on the nitty gritty of building and plans for contractors. Led by the John Heather, who is also Dad of the principal!. We went methodically through site survey requirements and level taking and recording. It reminds me again that this business is likely to be as much about good and clear communication with all parties as it is about good design. It also reinforces how much we will rely on good contractors to implement.

In the afternoon we headed off for the picturesque village in which the house for our second design project is located. Levels was the order of the day and after splitting into small groups we went through the main types of level measuring kit. A theodolite & rod (traditional level, a laser level and zip level. We all of course thoroughly agreed that the zip level was by far the best option for a level should we buy one (£750 smackers!)

Taking the site survey in a small group was good fun and much more organised. I was impressed with the neat and accurate drawings of my team mates and am resolved to practice making mine better before the course is up. Having only one set of figures was not ideal but we're learning, project 3 will no doubt be perfect!

It took about an hour and a half to get the first set of rudimentary 3D models done in Sketch Up. Getting faster all the time

From My Pictures

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vectorworks 2010 Training days

2 very intense days of VectorWorks training with Tamsin Slatter of Vectorworks Training. FANTASTIC.

This is the first time I have used a CAD type package, well Sketch Up I suppose but this is really in a different league (as promised by TS!). Learning the whole thing from scratch is always daunting but it was a fascinating tour through the basics and a good level of repetition and trawling through functionality.

I feel fortunate to be in a group with 3 CAD experts, 2 interior designers and a Landscaper all of whom brought clarity to various elements, be it explanations of functions in AutoCAD through to the basics of real life wall building (a 101 for dummies like me!). Being with a group who are much better at something than I am makes me take a step up and try and match them. I love that!

TS sailed us through the exercises and knowledge with aplomb, not in the least phased by the vargaries of hardware, user foibles, OS's or anything else for that matter. She even helped me change my memory cards (from in record time. I am now loving he double speed action of my new 4gb RAM.

Exhausting all this learning but very satisfying, now for the 30 mins a day to build the real foundations to work from.

And of course saving pennies for that iMac with 27" screen... totally green with envy over that

Monday, November 16, 2009

Timeline 18th thru 20th Century

Not due quite yet but given the next weeks are chokker with more design work we have been advised to complete this piece of work this week.

It's been fun and interesting to complete. There have been some eye openers for me too, who knew it took Rodin so long to complete the Gates of Hell or that he was still working when Picasso was in his Blue period. Or that so many fabulous works of art were done in 1937 (Picasso, Nicholson, Dali and more all producing) That the 20th Century had almost 1 war, or more, a decade, that Gertude Jekyll's gardens are listed no-where on the net - books maybe but not on the net - or that so much of what we consider 'modern' now was actually being done in the 20's, 30's and 40's by visionary artists and designers. I have even begun a 21st century set to see what I would chose for this first decade in categories, Garden, Art, Architecture and Socio economic. A tough one.

Main text initially was Landscape of Man but after wading through the 18th Century I gave up. Jellicoe may be a landscape visionary but in the art of effective communication he is not.

18th Century
From 2009-11-16

19th Century
From 2009-11-16

From 2009-11-16

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vectorworks 2010 downloaded...FINALLY

After about 2 weeks of faffing about I have finally downloaded and installed the treasured package Vectorworks 2010.

Upon opening it it has decided to ask for more updates to be installed. Oh PLEASE!

After all that palaver, you think I am going to risk losing it with updates and file name changes and re-activations... I don't think so!

Also feeling a little smug about extending my Windows partition. I know small potatoes to most techies but a first for me. Gotta love Ubuntu Live CD - 8.10 Intrepid Ibex from which I resized... Windows itself makes the resize much harder.

Back to the Garden History timeline...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Project 1 presentations

Not a great day tbh.

I was really pleased with the learning curve achievements last night and in fact right up to presentation was in a relatively good space.

Coming pretty low down in the alphabetical running order is good and bad, the 'client' has heard it all before, you're beginning to sound like a cracked record but it's time find something new to entice them. That comes across like a form of desperation. And the client is trying to find new things to say that haven't been said already to other students. On the upside you've heard all the feedback for others and can tailor your own presentation accordingly.

The feedback, from all came in the form of 3d models too small and badly rendered, elevations ok but not great and 'your bubble diagram looks like hieroglyphics' (I think that's supposed to be a complement!). I feel like a complete re-draw is what I have to do and have absolutely no desire to do it. I feel like I gave it my best shot and failed.

CK asked where I thought I'd come marks wise 'low to middle' was the answer. Right now I feel like I'll be lucky to pass this one. 4 days of solid slog and I have to ask was it worth it?

Sure I'll pick up tomorrow, get back on the horse and try again, identify areas which needs work - all of them given the feedback - and practice practice practice... Instead of seeing and appreciating the hurdles I have overcome this week and the steps forward I have taken I am deflated and disappointed.

I should say there were some awesome and inspiring solutions and presentations. People often surprise you and today was no exception.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deadline frenzy

This week is our first deadline for our Post Grad Dip at Oxford College of Garden Design. A full set of drawings for the first design project to be handed in after presenting them to the client. Thursday is the day. Preparation is exciting and exhausting.

As with anything there are hiccups first time out and this exercise is no exception. Lack of supplies, supplies failing to work as described, realising you're missing some of the key facts, realising one half day session is not enough to make a drawing exercise easy and so on. BUT during this steep learning curve, I have learnt, been creative when things fail, listened to peers who have better skills or simply there to provide an ear. I am thrilled to be at a point, on Tuesday pm, when I have the bulk of the work done and the fun bit, well the bits I find easier, to come.

Architectural Blank 1 - Bubble diagram
From 2009_11_10

Architectural blank 2 - sketch plans and 3d models (SketchUp7)
From 2009_11_10

Architectural blank 3 - Planting plan, elevations and 1 point perspective drawing.
From 2009_11_10

2 mood boards and some rendering to come. This is a really pleasing accomplishment :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tate Modern

A day at the Tate modern was on the agenda today.

Loud groan and eye rolling from inner art student.

CK and I pitched up fractionally late but in time to hear the basics about searching out form and shape and finding the inspiration of the piece, or maybe the last bit was form Sylvia Crowe's boo?, anyway the basic tenet of the day was to be inspired and to see what could be brought into our garden design projects and our HLP project over xmas.

Inner student yawned loudly....BORING.....she shouts. I don't listen.

After fielding coats to the cloakroom, finding loos and grabbing a cuppa we embarked on the 5th floor rooms. Swarms of school children drawing, mooching, discussing and listening flowed around us. Asians snapping happily as they stood next to the 'no camera' signs. I began to sketch, self consciously and hiding my book from anyone who wanted to see what was being scribbled. Never been a big fan of public drawing.

Inner art student nods in agreement.

Gradually as I noted things that inspired me, scribbled shapes and tones along with names and dates, picture refs and titles I began to realise how much inspiration I was gathering from this place. My 1st 4 visits here were to the top floor restau only, not even bothering with the galleries. Shameful!

I saw artists that I know well, Miro, Monet, Braques, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky and some I have not heard of before but want to see more of. It's not the Musee D'Orsay (I spent A LOT of time there when I lived in Paris) nor the Tate proper but it is great to see modern works of all media and mode.

My favorites of the day were '30 pieces of silver', the stands upon which 4 cubist sculptures sat and a fallen over palm tree covered in clay - go figure. ... and of course Matisse's 'L'Escargot' and Rothko's 'Untitled' and Miro's mobile and and and.....

In the end inner art student had a great day and my sketch book is much fuller than I thought it would be with ideas and collages of ideas and forms of ideas.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Full Time and then some

Funny really I thought a full time course would be just that but this Post Grad Dipl in Garden Design at Oxford College of Garden Design is a bit like being back at Graphic Design degree stage. I was the only person amongst school friends with more than about 10hrs a week in class. We had class 9-6, Mon to Fri and then of course there was homework too. OCGD is a bit like that, only 2 days a week in class but I seem to spend ALL of the rest of my time working on projects, that's a 'no weekends off' policy :).

Right now I have a set of designs, elevations, 3D model, mood boards to finish for next Friday, for this I also have to find and learn to use Transtext, a 3 x A3 page pictorial timeline (120 images and text) for Dec 10, I have to think up an essay title and write a plan for it, for Dec 15. Before the end of term we have another garden to design and hand in plans - we haven't seen it yet. Then in the 6 week xmas holidays (ho ho ho) we have approx 200 hrs of work to complete a Hard Landscape Portfolio.

Concurrently with this there are gardens to visit, seasonal images to be taken of borders and flowers/plants for the soft landscape portfolio and we need to learn Vector Works (a type of CAD). GULP

I thought it would be knowledge expanding, and it is, I didn't quite realise how time consuming it would be, nor how much planning it would require, nor how obsessive one can become about filling in background info - that would be reading the reading list books I have bought and the magazines I have subscribed to!

I am off to read the entry rules for igpoty Garden Photographer of the Year 2010, got to relax some how

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Silvia Crowe - Garden Design

Found this Dame Sylvia Crowe book lurking in the annals of the town library under 'books no-one reads anymore'.

Took them 10 days to get it from storage. Good job really as the only copy on Amazon is retailing for about £3.5m... no I am not kidding!

Praise to the British library system.
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