We called in to the farm early one morning, just as the sun was rising, to talk to Steve before his busy day had got into full swing. A trip to the Weston Red Barn Farm is like visiting a … Continue reading →
What one item or feature would you add to your or your clients garden today?
When we started out with our then new company back in 1984 we identified designer drives, especially with ‘In & Out’ drives as the most important – sure enough within 6 months our order book stretched out into the following year, other firms descended on us for information and our advertising showed sporty cars sitting on interlocking concrete block and brick paving..Soon even the manufacturers were calling wanting to take pictures of our drives. Here we used stock brick paving. Although fairly soft, with somewhat irregular shapes, it kept it’s color very well
Here a much harder engineering quality natural brick is used to good effect.
The next was concrete block paving, these were very hard, initially with limited colors, and the color did fade quite quickly. They were also quite slippery in the ice.
As our order book enlarged we started offering more expensive solutions, such as granite setts – something the Romans introduced.
These drives were very hard wearing, color fast, strong and again a little slippery in ice. it wasn’t long before we included ‘Fish scale’ versions, these took quite a long time to set out, but looked absolutely amazing when completed.
Then these circular natural sett patterns became popular, with their sense of movement – just look at them long enough and they seem to ‘move’
What new trend, item or feature do you think will be the favorite for 2015? We will interview the top three on our radio show Growing Trends during the year.
I was reading an interesting article the other day, it was discussing what today’s children know about plants.
The part that caused me to sit up and wonder was this line.. “Today’s children can identify about 1000 company logos but only identify 10 plants outside”
I wonder how accurate this statement is?
So a quick test – could you identify the plant below?
or perhaps this one.?
Thinking a little about it, brings to mind the simple realization that many children do not really understand where much of our food comes from.
We really need to change this for many reasons, perhaps our internet radio show, can help?
We want to engage ‘Granny Growers’ and introduce them to the ‘Growing Uppers’ , to start this rolling we’re heading off to interview a few senior citizens in our retirement community, to ask them what they learned and how they think we can help our grand children.
if you have some ideas , we would love to hear from you to… just drop us a line
As autumn and winter move in, with leaves changing into many hues of red and gold before falling to the ground.
The weather starts to turn chilly, the growing season is coming to an end or is it? Some plants will head towards dormancy, others being more frost resistant will provide the last gasps of color, before winter sets in.
For the luckier ones living in warmer climates, not so much changes
and for some others the climate has changed enough to wonder if it’s time to convert the ubiquitous lawns
into something more akin to a dessert landscape or perhaps a Mediterranean or Xeriscape landscape.
Now is a great time to start planning any changes as you can follow some simple guidelines.
First establish a budget, then look at the existing and consider what you might want to change and why. Write down a wish list of likes and dislikes, add if I could I would do this, etc,.
Now it’s time to decide if you want to do the work your self, find a contractor to start gathering information on materials and costs etc or engage a designer who can work with you to produce a plan and a program?
Each method has it’s pros and cons, and is often decided by available budget and or available time to allocate to the project.
My experience has been that most busy people are also quite successful and can therefore afford to engage a designer, they also tend to like to know what they are getting into before they start , so a design works great for them, they also like detail.
Practical people can often gain most from actually working on the project themselves, they tend to be natural problem solvers and enjoy the discovery of ‘how to achieve something’
The best advice I learned was to consider what you would like in say 5 years time, as this is often the time when any changes are going to look their best, it is also a time to consider where you may be in your own life cycle, for example age of children, type of free time available etc.
There is a “Growing Trend’ towards sustainability, and growing one’s own food, now is a great time to look at all the methods available and how much time should be allocated to such endeavours.
Our internet radio show Growing Trends has attracted listeners from across the globe, we’ve been really amazed how many people comment and listen – thank you all so much, it really is a lot of fun to produce.
We would love to hear from you with your ideas & suggestions on the shows content.
We’ve interviewed some amazing people, from many different walks of life, with many differing interests in our outside environment – from a keen homeowner gardener, to a commercial grower, to an environmentalist to an estate gardener, to a very knowledgeable bee keeper, to an expert consultant. All have fascinating insights into the hugely diverse world of horticulture and our environment.
We are making some programming adjustments to our fall schedule to better reflect this diverse interest.
Many years ago, we often introduced new ideas and products into our designs on a fairly regular basis. Some were because we developed our own ideas, products and subsequently ‘different’ offerings, we then ‘sold’ them to our customers.
When we started offering irrigation systems, we had to find a way to sell them to our more affluent customers, without making the costs too high, but most importantly by not disrupting or destroying the landscapes we had put in only a few years earlier.
We achieved this by finding a rather interesting hydraulic mole from Germany that used compressed air, it worked really well at a depth of 900mm and was pumped a distance of around 5m , which when reversed pulled the water pipe back through the drilled hole. This simple tool saved huge amounts of time and reinstatement costs – more importantly it amazed our clients who were thrilled that we could install such sophisticated systems without a huge amount of disruption.
Next came low voltage lighting systems, which made landscape lighting safe and easy to instal, the picture below isn’t our work it’s a Park in Paris, but it serves it’s purpose quite well.
Today we seem to have slowed down on major changes or have we?
Commercially vertical walled gardens are becoming quite popular and are definitely a recent development.
Whilst in Gardens we have built for over 30 years eco friendly ‘Green Retaining Walls’ such as this one
Roof Gardens have been around for years, we were designing and building them back in the distant 1980’s
Home owners are developing a taste for their own food production.
Herb & Vegetable gardening is becoming very popular today.
I’m seeing a huge demand for food production, but currently the solutions are traditional cold frames, cloches or greenhouses, all very time consuming and with varying degrees of cost.
Today with all the concerns over GMO crops, with apparent excessive use of pesticides, more and more people are either buying from local organic farmers or starting out on the incredibly satisfying journey of producing their own fruit and vegetables.
We’ve been developing an easy to use kit that makes selection, planting and growing much easier and for a much longer time frame.
We call it ‘Hort Cuisine’ our way of saying it’s fun, friendly and offers tasty treats when you gather your crops.
The patented system enables almost limitless combinations of plants to be selected, enabling designs for any climate region.
Creating those beautiful ‘Knot’ gardens just became a simple process.
So here are a few questions……
What new ideas have you seen recently?
What would you like to see developed?
In the last 5 years what is the best landscape invention you’ve seen?
What would your customers like to add to their garden landscape?
Drop us a line with your replies we will have a follow up blog shortly.
Starting with an existing landscape is always a challenge..
How do you develop an idea?
Does it just grow on you?
I’ve often been asked this seemingly simple question
‘Where do you find your inspiration? ‘ or perhaps it might be
‘ Where do you get your ideas from?’ .
At first it was from seeing new things and figuring we could apply them to specific projects we were working on, albeit with a different slant, or approach. As we gained more and more knowledge ( experience) we instinctively knew what would work and what would require more thought ( more thought equates to time, experimentation and thus expense) – That’s not to say we didn’t make errors, because we surely did, luckily most times these ‘mistakes’ were of a limited nature, involving us spending more time than we expected.
I’ve always been happy to let staff experiment as long as there’s a learning process, in which they figure that making the same mistake more than once is avoidable. I’ve also found that the good old notebook and pencil is an invaluable tool, even today, writing information down has saved all manner of accidents from occurring, both financial and construction wise.
The beginnings of a well
The finished well, using bricks, oak and peg tiles.
Today our emphasis is firmly on simplifying ‘How to ‘ , in particular , with the huge changes to the worlds weather, we’ve been working hard on adapting our patented techniques so that home owners growing their own veggies & herbs in a quick ,efficiently and simply method as possible.
We are also close to enabling an 11 month growing cycle for anyone living in zones 5 and above.
Using well tried & tested, mainly low tech solutions , to achieve this.
Our “Hort Cuisine Kit” will be available soon !
Using our internet radio show & this blog , has enabled us to reach hither too undreamed of audiences across the world – currently we have been listened to or read in 43 countries, so a big thank you to you all for keeping on reading.
We would love to hear from you – Ann my co – host and I are hoping we can find as many ‘Granny Growers’ as possible and link them to ‘Growing Uppers’ ( our grandchildren ) , so that the knowledge, skills and techniques learned over generations of growing our own food, can be passed down before we all succumb to the mass produced, widely transported, heavily chemically sprayed, produce that has changed our once balanced diets.
Healthy Living,Growing Trends is all about people who are passionate about Nature, their Gardens & Landscapes along with the Experts that help them. With interviews from home owners & experts all around the world discussing projects, trends, ideas, designs, sustainability, construction, planning and just having fun.
“We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Living a healthy lifestyle can mean many things, regular sleep, exercise, reduced stress, enjoying work, balanced eating, learning something new everyday, exploring new sights, meeting friends & relatives or a gentle stroll around a park.
Almost all involve going outside at some stage, or even spending time outside. Like this walk across the Jura Mountains in France.
When we were kids we used to dig in the ‘dirt’ , now it turns out this passed beneficial microbes to us. Plenty of microbes on the Farm.
Today we hear of parks and recreations departments that are banning pesticides and herbicides from play areas, and sports fields – 40 years ago we were more concerned with flint stones breaking the surface of the grass and ‘skinning’ kids knees when they played sports.
Field hockey needed a very even playing surface of grass to be played well, so it was often heavily compacted and over fed to keep the grass green & growing !
Research shows time and again how beneficial taking a walk in a woodland is, or sitting under a tree, or making a garden or landscape.
Yet most of us, move from one hermetically sealed air conditioned room, to our hermetically sealed air conditioned car,
to our hermetically sealed air conditioned office – is it any wonder we are losing a connection with nature?
Those folks lucky enough to live outside cities and away from the urban sprawl , are indeed fortunate.
They can leave windows open at night, refreshing the air inside, removing stale contaminated air, rarely using air conditioning.
We figured a hedge around the house and a tree canopy above was more than enough to reduce the inside temperature 20 degrees or more. It creates its own microclimate between the hedge & the house.while also providing a fair degree of privacy.
The planning process hasn’t helped much either with 140ft set backs, single story developments , individual car parking areas for each business and strip malls, that encourage you to ‘hop’ in the car to go from store to store.
Then same style sub divisions, with all vegetation ‘stripped’ , the topsoil structure almost non-existent at the construction stage, then hardly any landscaping to create interest, shade, or harmony with surrounding areas.
In fact it wouldn’t be too far to say that the effect is boring !
I wonder how many years it takes before this picture changes?
All this contributes to built in obsolescence within 25 years, the developments have very little diversity of style and worse a total lack of walking from home to the stores, – one of the healthiest pursuits for us all.
One of the major advantages of living in towns or cities is this easy connection with homes, stores, work places and amenities.
We all tend to be creatures of habit, so this routine is a hard one to alter
There are signs of a healthier approach.
Mass transit provides a wealth of benefits, less pollution, easier and quicker commuter travelling, safer travelling, an opportunity to connect with fellow citizens. A more relaxed journey.
Green walls in the urban environment soften an otherwise ‘hard’ landscape, reducing the carbon footprint of the area, making a much more ‘pleasing’ view.
Roof gardens make a more focused impact, they improve the carbon foot print, offer a new habitat and an amenity for the buildings users.
It seems all those ideas, methods and activities from yesteryear were not all that bad for us.
Our connection with nature is again expanding with more and more people exploring the option to grow their own food, or seek out farmers markets.
I suspect for this to become even more popular there will be a need to initially at least simplify the mysteries of growing your own?
The Community Garden or Allotment is a great way to learn the ‘tricks of the trade’ – these are either individual growing areas ‘Allotments’ or the more common these days communal ‘Community Garden’
Of course there is the local ‘Pick your Own’ farms for all those inseason goodies.
From ‘Farm to Table’ might be best said as from ‘Grower to Consumer’ – if this were local, it would have a huge impact on carbon emission reductions ( a lettuce travels 1400 miles to reach your table, not sure how that could ever be described as fresh!).
The more we as professionals make this process easier the greater the likely uptake by households in towns and cities, where new skills will need to be developed.
A really easy start.
A stacked group of herbs, perfect for a compact space.
or much more complex, this lovely exhibition garden shows how to create small garden boxes of produce.
Now all we need is a simple method for the consumer… It will need to have an option which includes a growing medium as many urban yards have very poor soil conditions.
Using a unique patented layout grid. enabling almost anyone to place plants in the correct positions is an option.
Listen to our up coming internet radio show all about developing gardens at www.grotrends.com we call it ‘Hort Cusine’ !
The very popular and effective Square Foot Gardening Foundation, developed by Mel Bartholomew has been around for many years, with countless books, examples and users.
As has the New Organic Grower & Four Season Harvest to name but a few from Eliot Coleman, an amazing grower in Maine.
It’s time to really try and add herbs & veggies into our urban landscapes.
We as landscape professionals need to promote home grown food more when we plan new landscapes for clients.
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