Results of our poll regarding our eBook.

Landscape Knowledge eBook

First of all thank you for all the replies.

Let’s start with the written requests –

1. Could we add information about Green Walls?

Treated Structural Green Wall
Treated Structural Green Wall

The short answer is certainly, this fully structural Green Wall was designed and built by us in 1984, it won an award, happily we know quite a bit about green walls, designed to last around 50 years they do not require any tie-back as they are designed as a ‘gravity wall’ . We will add a chapter about the How to and Where best to use these lovely walls.

2. Composts, Native and Perennial plants ?

A little more adventurous, next to a small pond.
A little more adventurous, next to a small pond.

We may need to add another eBook for this, what we may well do is add more about Allergies with this rather broad topic.

3. Removing and replacing a lawn – right time of year, plus best ways to water establishing new planting?

Creating movement
Creating movement

We will add a chapter on lawns and how best to use them, if you are in an area of long standing drought it is often wise to consider an alternative. It rather depends on how much area is involved , how much impact will be made. The picture above shows an area that could easily be ‘planted’ with alternatives. Sometimes a small green space in a compact garden is beneficial to the overall feeling of space – green is after all a very significant colour, and probably the most important in nature.

So the top three requests were –

Help with Veggie Growing


An eBook for consumers.

Listen to our digital library anytime
Listen to our digital library anytime

Help with water conservation.

Complete system

Ann and I have taken out our quill pens and started to scribe…..the first ebook will be free for all subscribers to our blog site.

If you would like to write to us with other requests please do..

Ann & Chris

Growing Trends – you can hear our latest interviews at  or on iTunes at Growing Trends


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Heaven is a Garden

A few years ago I read a paper about how grasses ‘moved’ to music, then I read about the effects of harmonious sounds on plant growth.

Just using white summer bedding is very effective in such a large garden
Just using white summer bedding is very effective in such a large garden

Why do I mention this, well a few weeks ago we were talking about Tesla and his discoveries, which led us to talking about vibrations, sound waves, force fields etc., then a strange thing happened.

Ann and I interviewed a wonderful lady landscape architect Jan Johnsen, about her new book “Heaven is a Garden” we talked a little about how at a very young age she discovered during a science fair competition – which against all the odds she won – the effects early morning birds singing have on plants. The sound waves, which are similar to a violin stimulate a plant to open its stomata taking in carbon-dioxide to help it grow quicker.


Jan has written a new book called Heaven is a Garden, it’s a really fascinating and informative read.  Jan has ‘connected’ the dots so as to speak, between the natural world and our emotions. How the Four Winds are important when laying out a space,the careful use of curves, and my favorite Golden Rectangles and the Divine Proportion. – Phi is the mathematical proportion ( 1 : 1.618) we see in every natural form. Using this proportion ensures a sense of harmony in any outdoor space that contains it. I’ve always tried to use these proportions in my designs.

Jan then talks about Trees – natures rechargers as she puts it… The Celts called it shunnache, the Hindu tree devas, and Greek dryads…the Japanese consider the health giving properties of trees the basis of a medical therapy called ‘ forest bathing’ .

Jan then discusses the magnetic attraction in a Zen garden – rocks in these gardens reflect a deep understanding of the geomagnetic properties of stone and its impact on a place.

Finally the benefits of color in a garden.

Be inspired by Jan Johnsen's Book
Be inspired by Jan Johnsen’s Book

You can listen to our truly fascinating interview with Jan Johnsen at or if you prefer on iTunes at Growing Trends

We would love to hear from you our listeners

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“A rare moment of peace in the perfect haven of a garden brings us renewed harmony with nature”

Ann and I are going to produce a series of short daily articles that highlight

“A rare moment of peace in the perfect haven of a garden brings us renewed harmony with nature”

Today’s is a roof garden.

GRP light weight Rocks
Some years ago, well alright 30 years ago we were asked to design and create a roof garden for a packaging company,

Artificial Rocks on Roof

We had always designed to a module which enables you to replicate easily. In this case we took molds of rock faces and made some fiberglass containers that were deep enough to act as planters. This extra depth enabled the plants to really take root and grow, it also prevented the roots from interfering with the roof’s drainage system

Artificial Rocks
Artificial Rocks


Here’s how we made the planters..

Specialised planter box
Specialised planter box


You can listen to Ann & Chris’s fascinating interviews with industry experts at or on iTunes at Growing Trends


Send us an email to Landscape if you would like to be added to our mailing list of interesting articles



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Do you remember the milkman?

How things have changed…..

Express diaries
Express diaries

Back in the 1950’s,60’s,70’s& 80’s in England we had daily fresh milk deliveries direct to your doorstep.

A ‘milk float’ as we called them ran on batteries – they were recharged overnight.

Homes were supplied with grass fed cows milk everyday, in glass bottles that were collected and reused, then when passed their usefulness sent back to the glass bottle plant as ‘cullet’ to be made back into new glass.

The milk was really ‘Fresh’ , being delivered in milk churns daily then pasteurized at the local dairy the day before, stored overnight in the refrigerator then delivered fresh the next day to your door step.

Today :

We have GMO corn fed cows milk, highly processed, long lasting, supplied in one time use plastic bottles that are difficult to recycle.

The ‘Milkman’ has long since lost his job…you have to make a trip to the supermarket to buy your milk.

The local diary is a thing of the past too..

Is this really progress?  what do you think?

[polldaddy poll=8755792]

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Living Shells

Hello everyone.

Ann & I have something a little special for you today.

Living Shells

Ann and I  were very fortunate to interview Dr Charles Rawlings MD , he has an interesting passion studying & photographing ‘living shells’, a scuba diver for the past thirty or so years Dr Rawlings has been observing, studying & photographing ‘living shells’ all over the world.


His knowledge of these creatures, their habits and habitats is extraordinary.

Recently he produced a beautiful coffee table book of pictures of these amazing creatures.

We caught  up with Dr Rawlings as he was planning yet another trip.

You can hear our interview at or on our iTunes Podcast 

We hope you enjoy the interview, do send us any comments you may have.

Chris & Ann

Growing Trends

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Fracking – is this relatively new method of oil & gas extraction the way of the future ?


Some of you may know that Ann & I have a new podcast as well as this blog.

Many years ago, whilst at school.I learned to write  ‘joined up’ or ‘cursive’ style with a quill pen , you can imagine in my ripe old age, it takes me a little time to catch on to new methods of communicating.


That said Ann & I have made a quantum leap forward by using Internet Radio and Podcasting, we call the show Growing Trends.

Our latest podcast is all about Fracking.


This newish method of extracting oil and natural gas has caused quite a stir around the world.

Prices at the pumps have more than halved, there are stories of polluting and even earthquakes caused by this method. Then there are the stories of the huge drop in carbon emissions by countries using this oil production method.

We thought it would make a great interview for Growing Trends so we found, with the help of Bill Sosinsky, an expert, Rich Sapienza to talk to us about this oil extraction method, come and listen to the interview.. Growing Trends Podcast

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Country : Growing Trends -Fracking – is this the future for oil?

Ann & Chris continue their fascinating talk with Rich Sapienza and Bill Sosinsky. Today we spend time talking about Fracking a relatively new industry with maybe a huge potential. Rich works with the 'Fracking' industry and has some interesting things … Continue reading

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How would you plan a new landscape?

With just a few more weeks to Spring, some of us are looking to make changes in the appearance of our garden landscapes.

As we plan some Spring shows we wanted to ask you our readers and listeners  how you would plan a project.

Water feature


Where would you look for ideas?

[polldaddy poll=8679930]

Thank you so much for your help,

Ann & Chris would love to hear from you with additional comments, suggestions, or if you need some ideas, just complete the form below.

You can hear our latest show at  or on iTunes at  Growing Trends

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Are you thinking of having some landscape gardening carried out this year?


About this time of year people who are planning to have some work carried out in time for enjoying this summer are reaching for their phones and seeking out designers and contractors, well those who do not have 5ft of snow on the ground !

The completed terrace, with low walls to enable larger groupings , for entertaining. The gently curved wall naturally leads the eye around the establishing garden
The completed terrace, with low walls to enable larger groupings , for entertaining. The gently curved wall naturally leads the eye around the establishing garden

So, having spent the best part of 45 years going to meet home owners, showing what is possible, listening, photographing, measuring, designing and exploring literally thousands and thousands of different ideas, it seemed like a good idea to put into a blog a few suggestions which might help make the process fun, friendly and ultimately successful for you the homeowner – for my designer friends, I will add , we always charge for our work, although if a client accepts the design and then orders the work we always reduce the cost of the design by 50% ( given as a credit on the second payment).

The softer low timber wall looks at home here.
The softer low timber wall looks at home here.

Let’s start with ideas – all projects start with an idea..

Before you even reach for the telephone or tablet to connect with us or a designer, contractor etc, I would suggest a visit to Houzz, a few magazines, pictures of friends gardens, etc.,

A winding path

  1. These are best gathered over a period of time, some of my favorite methods that I’ve seen over the years were, a lady who cut out examples of what she was trying to achieve from magazines and placed them in a folder, these days you can do a similar process with sites like Houzz. You can also take pictures with your smart phone as you drive around.
  2. Now it’s time to create your likes and dislikes, needs and maybe’s list. This should be agreed with all the family, I would often suggest that couples curled up with a glass of wine after having walked around their garden space jotting down notes of areas to alter, improve or remove.
  3. Before you call in either a designer or a contractor decide on a budget and deduct 10% from the amount ( it’s better to be prepared, costs are nearly always more than you expect, meaning that the design will include items that are more than your budget.
  • So now you have a likes, dislikes list, a needs ( must include) and maybe’s ( it would be nice to include) list, some pictures of the materials, styles and designs that you like.

Now you can call in an expert….to discuss your needs.

Classic English Garden
Classic English Garden

Do you create the Design yourself? or Call a Landscape Architect or Landscape Designer, or a Design & Build Company, or a Specialist Contractor?

My feeling is that each has it’s merits, with pros & cons on either side, costs are also dependent on a multitude of situations so it really depends on how much time you have to be involved, how much you want to spend, who you would prefer to make the day to day decisions, and what you would like. – Our forthcoming ebook will discuss this in more detail soon.

Both Designers  & Contractors will have portfolios of their work to show you, most will have testimonials – which if your project is large or complicated, I would recommend you either call or visit, if possible, to see first hand the results and to gauge how the client found the firm.

Both should be a member of a trade association or professional body, carry liability insurance and if required be registered to conduct business in your area. Some countries have additional requirements, such as building permits or planning permissions etc, local firms you select, should be fully conversant with all these needs.

Both will need to survey your project area, taking pictures and establishing what you want. Personally unless the project is quite modest, I never ever try and complete a drawing for a client on the first visit. The reason is I need time to consider all the variables, before an idea develops and trying to do this whilst talking to a client is in my opinion extremely difficult, to give both the attention they each deserve.

So I discuss in generalities and explain our method of working, whilst asking the client to sign up to a paid design.

Why a paid design?

Well I have also learned about 35 years ago, actually. If you give something to someone you do not know,they often do not value it, but if they pay for it they do value it. Which usually means you will continue with the whole project.

We went out of our way to win awards for our work, having collected a great many over the years, there is no doubt in my mind, “Quality is remembered long after the price has been paid”. We strive to provide the best we can for clients, which means keeping on top of changes, ideas, trends, what works, things to avoid, and providing honest advice.

On average my initial paid design acceptance rate ( with the offer of 50% of the fee back) is around 42% from the initial visit, my continued construction rate is above 95%..

So what should you expect for your money?

Today’s CAD programs can automate the process of photo realistic features  building plans and quotations.

The photo realistic design below is very small but fits nicely on this picture as an illustration, hopefully you get the potential it can and does look quite real.

tall pot with planting

Below is a part CAD part hand finished plan, I’ve tended to do this as it gives me a chance to check the design once more for any glaring errors or omissions, its becoming less of a an issue ( for me that is) with the new CAD programs that store the whole database of information with each design module.

Pool layout2

The Design

So quick recap…It is always best, at the very least to call between two and three firms before deciding on who to select, have at least two provide a price, for the design work – the actual project will be dependent on way too many items at this time.

You have a number of choices at this stage:

1.An independent designer – they often have contractors they know well and work as a team. Do remember though that each is a separate business.

2.A design & build full service company – just one firm to work with, the designers will know the construction teams really well.

3.An individual specialist contractor – ideal if you have just a drive or patio for example, or just planting, or fencing, or perhaps a pond or veggie garden.

As you can see each has its advantages and disadvantages, which is why it’s always a good idea to ask for references or talk to friends and neighbors who have had work completed.

Having chosen, all the firms should complete an accurate survey, including having any buried service lines and pipes plotted, that includes existing irrigation, drainage, power, etc., as well as service lines such as cable, telephone, electricity, water sewage and gas.

You should expect a layout plan, an artist impression or photo realistic impressions, together with a full specification and quotation, which would include material details or prime cost sums for specialist items.

The production of a design is likely to take between one to two weeks, perhaps more during busy periods, with likely programming of the project some months away – which means if you start now the completed project should be ready for this seasons summer months.

Accepting the quotation

Once accepted the firm selected should furnish insurance details and a program for the works, they will also provide a request for payment, often broken down into deposit, with interim payments at specific periods until the final completion payment.

Some design and build firms will offer a discount off the design payment as long as the works are ordered through them, this is fairly standard practice.

Starting the project

Having someone work on your property can be quite disruptive even intimidating at times. We have found that after the initial ‘honeymoon’ period a state of resigned tolerance ensues, helped by having professional,affable staff, who are well aware that the torn up garden or yard they are working in was once quite tidy and needs to be returned to the client as soon as possible, in its newly beautified state.

The new drive

Some of the things we do to help.

We add an extra mat so clients can clean their shoes – or better take them off before entering the house – sand and grit can be a big issue for carpets.

We try and reduce mud and debris to a minimum.. although sometimes we inherit a swamp..

The Drive Before

Restoring some semblance of organized & clean chaos is a priority, as it improves work quality, customer satisfaction and staff moral.


Radios blaring on site are not permitted – although they are in the company vehicles.

Consuming alcohol is only permitted if provided by management or the client.

Client are always referred to as Mr. or Mrs., or their title by all staff, including management until the project is handed over.

Design variations or change orders are issued in triplicate – one for the site foreman, one for the office and one for the client.

Whilst the site foreman is in charge on a day to day basis, management staff make a client visit at least twice a week to meet the client and the foreman during the projects duration.

Toilet facilities are discussed and established with the client prior to commencing work.

Weekend working is avoided, so the client has at least some private time.

When a project is completed, we still return every two weeks or so, for the first two months to ensure that everything is operating as intended.

small rockery with low bridge

Automatic water topping up would be one of the items we keep an eye on to start with.

We added a small stream to flow alongside the path
We added a small stream to flow alongside the path

We also provided the first two months of aftercare completely free, especially for larger properties as we found that even with the best intentions the work load was often way more than expected, even with automatic irrigation, mulching etc.,

We are also starting to add a reference section on our website with some of the techniques and products we have developed, or used over the years. Like this structural green wall, that will last for at least 50 years.

Treated Structural Green Wall
Treated Structural Green Wall

Or this superb bound gravel driveway, with a triple brick gulley.

Bound Gravel driveway

 Ann & I hope you enjoy our work and posts, we would love to hear from you, with ideas, suggestions or requests, or just a Facebook ‘like’ .

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Country: Growing Trends -Sustainability for the world today

Ann and Chris interview Rich Sapienza and Bill Sosinsky  we talk about sustainable solutions for the world today. It's fascinating, interesting and very enlightening. Sustainability must work on its own, grow on its own, support itself with the built-in ability … Continue reading

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