Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Have you been swayed by an Edible Garden?

I will admit to a moment of weakness this week and succumbing to watching TV. Two friends enthused about ALys Fowler's new show The Edible Garden and so great was the enthusing I flipped through it on the iPlayer, and ended up watching all three episodes at once. Thus inspired I hot footed it to the local nursery (ok Homebase!) to buy up anything remotely resembling broad beans and peas.

Not a wholly unsuccessful trip, the herbaceous borders (!) in the garden now host 6 broad bean plants, 8 sweetcorn and in the cold frame, 4 boxes/trays of seeds (peas, zuchs, squash, climbing beans, cleome, nasturtium and Orlaya). Then this morning at 6am, I recalled I had some Cavolo Nero seed from last year so I popped some into mini trays and that's in the cold frame too.

There is almost no space already as spring spouts but in AF mode I will keep plants as big as I WANT them this could be fun.

Next on the list? hmm that dog looked very cute!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beth Chatto knows how to 'do' a spring garden!

An unexpected jaunt to Elmstead Market and to the fabulous gardens of plantswoman Beth Chatto. The gardens look spectacular at this time of year which was a pleasant surprise. I had been in late May last year and was sadly disappointed by the very bedraggled looking dry gardens. This season though it was looking stunning and full of life and vigour. The dell also looked wonderful with the marshy pond edge plantings inspiring my next projects - also has a large set of ponds.

I promised myself no plants and managed to come away with only 5 which is a remarkable achievement in self restraint!

Well worth the trip in the next couple of weeks.
From Collages

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Knoll gardens, a masterclass

I am rather excited about visiting Knoll Gardens for a masterclass with Neil Lucas in the autumn (2010). After a visit last year I was won over by his use of grasses and the ethereal planting-scapes they have created at their gardens in Dorset.

From 2009-10-18 1

Monday, April 19, 2010

Vale of the White Horse gardens in a 3d model

Ever more complex 3d models and using it to design in parts, for example the deck steps in which 6 steps need to go into the length of 3 steps...so using it a a design opportunity I flipped them sideways, hey presto 1 solved problem!

From My Documents

It isn't finished yet but it's a good way along and helping with the Vectorworks modelling

Is Spring planting so difficult to do well?

I put off a trip to Wisely and The Savill 10 days ago due to the apparent lateness of spring. Friday rolled round and it seemed vital to a get out and get at least some of the spring colour on camera.

Wisely was my first stop as they had said their borders were looking good. I should have asked in more detail what that might mean! Indeed the magnolia were stunning as were some early Rhododendron and scads of formal spring bulb bedding, the camellia were mostly browned and over from rain and cold but what disappointed me was the lack of cohesive underplanting.

Oh there were swathes of sunny daffs and muscari bobbing about in the wind, even several large bed of mixed spring bulbs but the stunning spring flowering trees were mostly skirted by dirt or later flowering/greening plants. Where there was consistent underplanting it seemed to be a single block e.g. a large branching apple with a skirt entirely of blue muscari, beautiful, but.....

I will say that the beds were clean and tidy with nothing of a collapsed winter feel to them, inspiring from a horticultural view point, they just didn't fill me with glee in terms of design.

I skipped The Savill on the way home, wrongly assuming they would also have a similar set up, a friend tells me they have great spring borders....oh well my images will have to be 'late spring' borders for this year, next year it'll be down to Cornwall and Devon to see their stunning spring offerings.
From Collages

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Splash! SGD Conference

A rather mixed day, somewhat disheartening but nevertheless some interesting speakers.

I primarily attended to get a feel for the industry body to which I am likely to be affiliated. How professional would they be and what would the benefits of joining be.

An overwhelming number of middle aged women filled the room, never a good sign in my book there were a smattering of chaps but they were in the minority. This only says that more women attended the conference and not that this is the norm in the garden design world, though I suspect it is.

Apart from the technology calamities (and there were many) and the disruption of speakers and running order due to an erupting Icelandic volcano the thing that disturbed me most was hearing the Chairwoman of the SGD ask each speaker if they had openings for 'slaves'. Most looked slightly abashed as they said sure they had room for wannabes.

In an industry that is little valued by the general public, except for the notable celebrity few, it is sad to hear the person chairing the organisation diminish the standing of those entering the profession.

The membership team have high aspirations for new members and those of us mere mortals who deign to demand entry with only a PGDip behind us can look forward to at least 4 years of subs, scrutiny and hoop jumping before being considered worthy of applying for Membership.

Interesting talks especially William Pye's beautiful water sculptures. An interesting day but I suspect attending once will be enough!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Exploring Earthworks

Writing the required essay on 20th Century gardens and their influences I am immersed in research (and writing of course!) around the Land Art movement of the late 60's and 70's and investigating how it has transformed our landscape design aspirations.

Some interesting individuals to look at are:

Robert Smithson

Michael Heizer

Walter de Maria

Christo & Jean Claude

Richard Long

Hamish Fulton
Andy Goldsworthy

Anthony Gormley

Charles Jencks

this is a sample of active artists and not a big one!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's a glorious day and I would rather be outside...

I am slogging through research for an essay. Something on the longevity and history of landforms, earthworks, land art. I have a question and a title and even a synopsis, but can I get inspired and actually write the darn thing? of course not. I am bargaining with myself about how much I MUST write before bed. Today it is 1500 words and not one word less will do.

This is partly due to the fact that I have a couple of short weeks to get the remainder of the tasks for holidays completed, namely project 3 sketch plans, sketch up model, elevations, sections, mood boards and so on ready for a possible client meet on my birthday of all days!

Instead I have frittered time away writing a spec for my new website, updating my HLP and tarting up project 2's specification document. Which makes me smile because when the last 2 were due I was doing anything I could to avoid doing them.

So it's all a bit of a game really. In 1 month I will be re-writing the essay happily avoiding doing my SLP!

In the meantime I have finished reading the excellent book by Malcolm Gladwell called OUTLIERS

and am going back to Marshall Rosenburgs series of books on good communication.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fasciation is unpredictable.........

Flattened, elongated shoots and flower heads that look like many stems compressed together are called fasciation. This strange-looking problem may be ugly or attractive, but is always interesting. The Forsythia in the garden, hacked last year, to within and inch of it's life has produced 3 fasciated stems covered in blossom.

From 2010-04-01

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Contouring in Sketch Up

An eventful Easter Sunday (no rest for the wicked as they say!) spent playing in the Google Sketch Up sandbox. It appears that it is only possible to import level surveys into Pro which is a good plan for making people buy pro a bad plan for us mere students who don't want both Vectorworks and Sketch Up Pro as there are too many cross overs in functionality and the former wins hands down on overall functionality.

So hand contouring it is, tracing over an imported .jpg file exported from Vectorworks where the levels survey is imported (not so professional, but it works).

The site looks precipitous which makes me think I have something wrong (scale maybe?). More contours make it look less so but then the steep banks and suddenly ending contours make it much more complicated to draw in with the sandbox tool.

Still I am pleased at least to have succeeded with the tool itself.

I think project 3 may find itself with much simplified contours and smoother shapes overall, steep banking is out!
From Project 3 - Rural

Friday, April 2, 2010

Skunk anyone?

Although spring hasn't really sprung these extraordinary things have

From 2010-04-01

Lysichiton americanus: Skunk Cabbage
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