Monday, December 28, 2009

First commission - A Country Garden

A seasonal visit to friends elicited a new commission to help them make more of their beautifully aspected country garden. Keen gardeners with the usual family and work demands on their time low-ish maintenance is high on the list.

Measuring up in the -4 degrees sunny winter weather was a challenge and in fact took two attempts. 'Frozen finger breaks' being a new aspect of surveying for me!

With wonderful rural views from almost all angles, a majority south east facing plot and fabulous soil, a complex network of roofline and extensions and several unusual mature trees to be retained it will be a pleasurable challenge.

From commission

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hard Landscape Portfolio - beginnings

I have avoided this Hard Landscape Portfolio task because it is my weakest area. In that what I know about building and construction could fit on half a postage stamp. 200 hrs D says. I think that is optimistic, maybe it will turn out not to be.

The project consists of several parts and will train several core skills. Vectorworks familiarity. Understanding of the construction of out design elements: wall, pergola, decks and so on. Beginnings of familiarity with standard sizes and dimensions of materials e.g planks of wood (sorry timber!), breeze blocks, the humble brick and mortar.

Creativity in the original design of several garden objects, 12 to be precise. In total it's about 50 constructions drawings. If Vectorworks can be tamed that becomes MUCH less daunting, but that's a big IF

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Trentham in Winter

Trentham Estate gardens are a recently restored treasure (2003-2008) with the formal Italian garden plantings being designed by Tom Stuart Smith. In the regenerated formal gardens the planting reflects prairie style so a mix of ornate traditional structure with stunningly modern planting. Apparently they planted 73,000 plants and then there are the spring bulbs. A year round garden? well certainly a 3 season garden.

From Collages

The cold crisp winter day made the most of the structure given by the tall plantings and evergreens. Stunning displays with 'Death' in all it's glory.

And of course the perfect weather and location to play with the new Nikon Lens

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Is it snowing where you are?

From Collages

It started with sleet on Monday night and temps dropped and snow began and melted and began again and melted and now there is a crust of black ice and crunchy snow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Project 2 the post

For some reason this project (project 2) seemed a lot more difficult than the first one. I don't think I learned as much as during the first one but I certainly found a great print supplier locally, managed to navigate Vectorworks to some degree, and enjoyed the rendering aspect more, especially with the new chartpak colours I added last week. But there is so much more to do to develop my 'style' and a confidence with the presentation side of the plans.

I have some time allocated to re-draw the whole thing in Vectorworks, from scratch, I'll need it for the planting plans next term but it is also a good exercise to get ready for project 3 and begin the process of working out what an efficient method of working is, because 5.5 days from go to woe is NOT efficient and that's not taking into account design time.

I'd post examples but I was in such a hurry to get to the post office in the snow storm I forgot to take pics, let's hope postie doesn't lose them! I am off to make gingerbread tree decs and finish xmas cards in time for last post tomorrow. As Alex says, who said this course was easy!

Just as a record, 4 of the 5 sheets, unrendered:

From Collages

From Collages

From Collages

From Collages

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sucess and failure are either side of the same coin!

After a frantic few days I am finally feeling like the deadline of Friday is meetable. With help from Vectorworks whizz OH and technical collaboration with LM, not to mention the man from Brother who sorted out the A3 scanner only scanning at A4 (go figure) I am now on track to complete, more or less (!) in time to deliver the 4 A1 sheets of design work for project 2.

A jaunt south to hand deliver is still looking likely though.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Could you do this in 12 weeks?

A parody I suppose on D's posting could you do this in 8 weeks for our first project. But a mere 4 weeks later and project 2 is in the final stages, i.e. head down panic week to get it all tarted up and ready for submission to D, by close of Friday. The real client will see it at the annual summer show and hopefully chose a design to implement.

Ground plan done and 3d block model done and tweaked. The process is fairly integral in the final stages back and forth between plan and model. Attention to detail is easier to see in the model than on the plan, i.e. forgetting to put in the oil tank or a wall to block it from the road was easily missed on the plan not so the block model. Sketch up continues to be a delight if a bit flaky.

From 2009-12-08 1

3D model

From 2009-12-08 1

Plan draft

Vectorworks is in the wings for the Site Analysis and Functional bubble diagram sheet.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Planting style comparisons

The Plantswoman gave us another lecture yesterday on Planting Style Comparisons. A difficult window as we had our xmas party the night before. But all were present if somewhat weary.

I have to admit to being completely glued to this topic. It is my favorite section, I would do it all day everyday if it was possible. Introducing top designers such as Tom Stuart Smith , Arne Maynard, Dan Pearson and Anthony Paul with a synopsis of their styles, plant favorites and more glorious images of their work to inspire us to greater things. Their extensive horticultural, historical/conservation design, show garden and landscape design credentials are a little daunting to a late starter but then I am trying to be the best I can be which means starting from where I am and not longing to have started several decades ago!

More pointers to gardens to visit this winter ( for our soft landscape portfolio inages) including a new installation at Battersea Park- Winter Garden and possibly The Savill again. Next weekend though it's Trentham Gardens and a site survey of a friends garden.

Is this possible?

It's not that I don't want to blog, it's more that it is all a bit too much atm.

Each lecture session is packed with information but only scratching the surface of the topic to which we need to do further research and study. But then there is no time for this it seems as we move quickly onto the next topic.

I started garden design to get away from the pressure of consulting - i.e. no life, no time, no joy, no fun, lots of money. It's not exactly turning out like this atm. I am standing close to the bottom of a precipitously steep learning curve and my peers stand either in front or near me on this curve. The deadlines loom impossibly fast and I sense that a lot of what I am producing is maybe a bit rushed and less considered and creative than it might be. I suppose I understand why it must be like this and that the course must teach us all these things in this timescale but today it is all a tad overwhelming.

..... and honestly, I am thinking about subbing out a few things to an Indian VA per Tim Ferris' outline for working smarter (4 Hour Work Week), don't tell teach!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Are you this creative?

"Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre are the co-founders of Ecovative Design, a company that builds a completely organic and natural Styrofoam replacement. In non-scientific terms, they grind up seed husks and glue the small pieces together with the mushroom root, yielding a product that’s natural and completely compostable. Unlike other sustainable inventions, like ethanol, their product doesn’t come from anything humans or animals can consume, so their materials are available in abundance."
CNN Young People Who Rock Blog 7th Dec 20009

When I hear young people, or any people for that matter, say " I can't make a difference (to the positive ecology of this planet) on my own" I think about people like this and say "YES, YOU CAN!"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How big is your carbon footprint?

All this talk of environmental impact earlier in the week has had me scouting the web for info and assessing my own 'size nines' environmentally speaking that is (7's in human shoes ;) ).

I am a designer and as such am beginning to build a source book of environmentally sounds suppliers and products, it's hard (all suggestions welcome).

It is naive to think there will be no impact or that it will always be possible to avoid less sound products. In my first design career (graphics), some moons ago, I did refuse to work on a BAE account for ethical reasons, but is it realistic to imagine I have that luxury now, as a self employed garden designer?

It strikes me that putting my money where my mouth is is a good start and so evaluating my own carbon impact is where I am starting.

The Government has ACTONCO2, a page to help me as an individual lower my contribution to polluting the world. I am already an obsessive light turn-er off-er and the heating is on so little and so low it often might as well not be on ( is this a false economy?) I attempt to grow some of my own veg/fruit, try not to print what I can read online, shred and compost most private papers, compost food waste, recycle with the council scheme, paper, cardboard and plastic, recycle with Tesco glass and clothing. I sell whatever I can or give away what is left. The local dump, sorry recycling center, gets only the items that I simply cannot find a home for. I visit maybe once every two years! Then there is showering not bathing, walking to town because I live close. The car is room for improvement.

But maybe that's not enough?

I could green my business too according to Although this is mostly the same as Greening my home

Then of I get into the realms of those who begin to assess natural products - somehow always assumed to be 'better' - with impact of producing all products AND what happens at the end of their life. They call it Eco Design. Not convinced yet, but still investigating....

More to come

Friday, December 4, 2009

Being more Webby - The Milky Way

An excellent master class this evening by Eslpeth Briscoe aka Milky. Focusing on being more web savvy in promoting ourselves and getting up those ranks in Google and so building our network and optimising our assets (that would be web presence!)

A good turn out of people from this year and the last few graduating years and a real mixture of knowledge levels all addressed and enabled a bit more.

I came home a bought a couple more domain names to add to the growing list and then began adding some more links to the blog and even pondered re-url-ing this blog to make it more searchable. That may have to wait until the weekend.

A vid and notes to follow on the OCGD blog.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Virtual World of communicating

I had just had an interesting email 'chat' with a well known Garden Photographer. Her website wouldn't show me the images it promised to hold and suspecting it was some browser issue I emailed to let her know.

At first she explained the complicated hover and scroll set up her designer had come up with to let the viewer navigate more than 3 of her beautiful images. Sounds cool but it probably isn't for anyone but him or others who like geeky gadgets on websites and have the time to play with them.

I let her know that it still wouldn't work on my Firefox install. Now the reply was simple, but in this world of virtual comms what you say, don't say, and how you say it carries a wealth of meaning that conveys your 'tone'. And the tone???... sharp, irritated and not too polite.

Interesting as had I been a buyer, as I may have been in the future, I got a good idea of how short this professionals fuse is and how she may potentially behave in front of clients.

I love her work, but I would think more than twice about putting her forward for work.

So it is another lesson for me to be careful how I communicate virtually and the virtual tone I use with strangers.
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