Saturday, February 20, 2010


Just saw this fabulous little tool which should help with some colour combos in later projects.

"Discover Adobe® Kuler™ — the web-hosted application for generating color themes that can inspire any project. No matter what you're creating, with Kuler you can experiment quickly with color variations and browse thousands of themes from the Kuler community."

So Kuler it is!

From Colour

Original posting from Tracy McQue whose blog ( is filling up with useful tips.

Trip to France

The class is taking a trip to France to see some of the chateau gardens and festivals. The first rendezvous post exhibition is Chaumont with visits to Amboise following. Teach has proposed including Villandry in the tour and one more whose name escapes me...maybe Marqueyssac

I have put these in my plan for coming years as this year I am focusing on another long trip in September so won't be making this trip.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Planting Planning

Project 2 has been completed and much to my surprise, I have managed to catch up and complete it this evening. Tomorrow it will be bound and delivered to 'Teach', one day ahead of deadline. PHEW. A slight nagging feeling that it can't really be this straight forward but I am quashing that as simple nerves!

This section of work is a specification document, which will be used in a tendering process and along with it all the associated drawings - a Key Plan, Cascade Drawings (Drainage, Setting out, Levels, Paving) and of course Planting plans.

The Planting plan took me a good deal longer than I thought it would and after two false starts, one involving the full rendering of the plan before I realised it fulfilled nothing that I had set out to achieve. Being a confirmed plant-aholic it is hard to limit myself to the 20 species recommended. If I am honest I went over a little but not too wildly. It is a process of learning the balancing of grouping and labeling and this one is not perfect but it I find it pleasing and am hoping that those marking it agree with me!

From Finished Drawings

Tomorrow we have an afternoon of feed back on the Hard Landscape portfolio and the Bespoke portfolio handed in 10 days ago which will be fascinating to see the work of peers and find out how well, or not, mine went down.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It is Masterclass seaons - begning with Andy Sturgeon

One of a series of Masterclasses run by Oxford College of Garden Design at St Hughs college Oxford.

A well known TV personality Andy Sturgeon talked us through his extensive portfolio of work residential and commercial and then a quick foray into show gardening for the RHS. Regaling us with tales of his early days, which to be honest was a relief to hear that all was not plain sailing, and that a smattering of speculative risk taking and opportunity making was required to establish himself early on. Sometimes it is just hard to hear over and over how tough it is going to be and how many people fail, sometimes it is simply good to hear 'you can do it if you believe in yourself' and, take steps to put you money where your mouth is.

Interesting to hear his philosophy on taking inspiration from artists, such as Anish Kapoor, and how it can be successfully interpreted for the garden situation.

A highly entertaining and informative lecture.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chelsea preparations on GQT

Good to hear Chris Marchant of Orchard Dene nurseries, one of the tutors on the OCGD Post Grad Dip course, speaking on GQT about the nurseries preparations for the show gardens of Tom Hoblyn at Chelsea flower show this year.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

is NanoTech about to change how we live?

A new development in the world of nano technology is going to be changing how a few things are done. This could mean eternal life for a timber post immersed in water for example....

Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything

Imagine having an excellent local library

Lucky for me I don't have to imagine.

Amazingly the county library, based in my home town, has yards (maybe that should be meters?) of garden design and horticultural books.

Over the seasonal holiday I trudged home with 12 heavy hardback volumes bursting with information and images to inspire me. This week yet more new books graced the shelves, how could I resist? I couldn't! A couple of samples of current reading are:

The Garden Design Sourcebook


Monday, February 8, 2010

Useful lists for Gardens to visit and seasons they excel during

I am regularly hunting for recommendations for spectacular gardens to visit in each season. These lists are the ones I have found useful so far and any additions or suggestions would be most welcome. Surely there must be many more!



Summer - small gardens via the NGS

Autumn - Jane Perrone

Autumn - Roy Lancaster

Then of course there is
Future gardens

and for Top 50 gardening websites try this:

then she added one!

Last but not least is the very useful Garden Finder, which is worldwide.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What is a Hard Landscape Portfolio?

I was asked this lately and realise I have skirted around the details in previous postings.

The task was to prepare full construction drawings from Plan, Elevation and Section through to the Detail. Enough to allow a contractor to build each project successfully.

Furnished with some plans, some photographs and some written material the level of detail was up to each person to decide upon.

For some of the students, me included, this meant learning the 'how' of what to build i.e foundation width, depth and content, how does a retaining wall retain, what are the components of a decking structure and how do they fit together, how deep is a pond? and what sits beneath it? how deep is a step riser?, what are the dims of a brick?, a concrete slab? and even a roof tile? plus endless beams, joists, noggins, hoggin, mortar and sub-base components. This detail fathomed, how to brace, hang, support and wedge (!) together. Lastly to gather it all elegantly and efficiently into the CAD program of choice, Vectorworks 2010 which turned out to be stage two of the steep climb to knowledge.

Stage three was printing it all out with perfect titling, positioning, labeling and the right amount of information. Each requiring detailed knowledge of printer performance, features and why DPI might be relevant.

The learning aim was clearly about getting the written construction material off the page and into heads. Then from heads and sketch pads into Vectorworks. Upping skills in both areas, pronto. Having a real project is, for me at least, a blessing, something to actually 'do' rather than play at doing.

I leanrt more than I needed to in some areas and not enough in others.

The final part was a Bespoke portfolio of 12 pieces drawn with enough detail for a craftsman or woman to build for our clients. A creative exercise and most enjoyable although some of my crafts people will need to be magicians as well!

All in all my HLP and bespoke took me 192 hours (curtesy of to complete. That's sitting down at the computer hours, not faffing about making tea, reading, researching, getting help, discussing with peers, tutors, sending 'help' emails, completing Vectorworks tutorial book, deciphering VW help text (bad, really bad!) and the many other tasks that surrounded it. For that, Tickspot reckons another 40 hrs, give or take.

All will be on show at the end of year exhibition in June (16/17), of course updated per instructions from those marking them in the coming weeks.

Winter Gardening

A regular listener to GQT and today (well Friday!) Bob Flowerdew headed off to Cambridge Botanic gardens to investigate the winter garden there. Plenty of reference to Mahonia japonica, Lonicera purpusii, Cornus alba(dogwood), Berberis, Rubrus cobernii, Prunus subhertella autunmnalis, Festuca glauca and so on.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Night Lighting

An interesting afternoon lecture on lighting with John Marriott of Lighting for Landscapes including the ins and out of armour cabling (!) followed by a demonstration in situ at the beautiful Greystone garden of Duncan and Carol Heather.

Features lit up in the pitch black - a rural property took on an eerie and mystical glow when lit by a variety of lamps including LED (Light Emitting Diode)and Metal halide examples.

The Hunza 'Euro' range being my favorite especially tiny spot in a coppery bronze, defining elegant details of individual plants or textures.

From Collages
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