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.
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.
I’ve been really surprised at all the positive comments the site has been generating from everyone – Thank you all so much, it’s fun to write, improves my awful spelling, maybe my grammar as well ?
You can let me know on that one !
Some of you asked if I would make it possible to donate on this site, I’ve tried to avoid that, as well as adverts as I was trying to be impartial, with the content.
As you may know we do have a fun internet radio show, where we interview folks from around the globe about their Gardens & Landscapes.
When we started this radio show the aim was to find interesting people who had a passion for their Garden or Landscapes. Little did we know what would happen. In just a few months we have an audience stretching across the globe in 43 countries.
We soon added a web site www.grotrends.com to provide details of schedules, information on guests and sponsors, and a growing information area with details of techniques, ideas and examples of projects.
The show Growing Trendsconcentrates on the clients, the designers, the creators, the maintainers and the experts that help them, we would welcome any suggestions on who we should contact – the schedule is filling quickly, which brings me on to how you can help.
We have two one hour shows a day seven days a week, with a little funding help we can update the interviews more often, and tell the story of you, or your friends work, or your garden or landscape.
Can you help us in just a small way ? Contributing just $5 ?
Here’s the link to StartSomeGood the crowdfunding source we are using for this fund raising campaign
Growing Trends is fun, friendly, informative, interesting, amusing & entertaining.
This one acre pond has a water change almost once per hour !
A final interesting project from just outside New York. This fully structural gravity wall is almost 27ft high !
Note the access is less than 4ft !
We really would appreciate your support, so we can interview maybe you, or your colleagues or friends, across the globe – thank you all for your support & comments.
Ever wondered how a landscape project is conceived, designed, planned and then implemented?
We have created quite a few over the years, so we thought we would attempt a trial of one here that we did some years ago.
There is an ulterior motive for this, Ann & I would like to attempt to follow a project from ‘Concept to Completion’ on our radio show ‘Growing Trends’
This project started because the owners, a young couple, were starting a family, and wanted the swimming pool that dominated their back garden removed, partly for safety reasons and partly because as you can see it didn’t leave much space for a user friendly garden.
The first step was to survey the garden, in this case we needed to take fairly accurate levels to enable us to quantify the amount of work to do.
This has a number of benefits ;-
When working in tight areas , there was only a side gate access, it is very wise to design in such a way as the least amount of material is taken away or brought in to complete a project – all that hauling is wasting the clients budget.
Secondly it is jolly hard to accommodate too much material when the entire site is being worked on.
With such restricted access the design whilst needing to be imaginative, had to be practical and effective.
The solution was to use the existing access path level as the main level, demolish the pool surrounds, break out the base of the pool, to allow for drainage, then backfill in layers the excavated pool , paving and surplus material to bring the levels up to create a much larger patio.
We even salvaged some of the brick wall to mix in with the new london stocks to create the imposing planter that acts as a statement as you walk around the side of the house to the rear garden.
The new paving extends all the way around the house to give continuity, we added a stock brick edge to the paving so we could link the low black stained timber retaining walls, the raised patio diaz, and the black stained timber edged step to the rest of the garden.
The stained timber edge is protected with polythene sheeting and has a gravel pressure release drain set behind, to prevent water incursion onto the light coloured patio stones, which would stain very easily otherwise.
There is now a much enlarged patio area ideal for young children to play on, which is both safe and secure.
The step detail is modulised to provide continuity and ease of use when walking on, planting the edges will over time soften the strong straight lines and allow the planting to seamlessly flow into the step area.
The steep banks are now lost in the planting, supported by the low stained timber wall, creating a feature rather than an aftercare issue as before.
The completed project, is much easier to maintain, has a huge amount of safe space, opens the garden up, into an interesting useable space, for play, entertaining , whilst giving more light to the inside of the house and a feeling of spaciousness.
You can hear Ann & Chris talking to garden owners and the experts that help them on Growing Trends ( just click this link) it will send you to our internet radio show.
If you have an interesting garden or story to tell do drop us a line, we will get back to you in a few days.
We would love to hear from you..
Ann & Chris
Alternatively take a look at our web site at www.grotrends.com it’s packed with helpful hints.
Today you can chuckle at my expense !!! Enjoy your weekend !
Designing & Building award winning landscapes has been a very rewarding, satisfying, fun filled occupation, of course there have been days one prefers to have skipped or passed by, yet more where looking back it was quite amusing now – I’m sure you too have a few you could share with the growing readers too.
So Ann and Chris are making you an offer you cannot refuse? – well perhaps you can !
Here is the challenge. If you have an amusing enough incident and you share it here by way of a comment,
Ann & I will call you ( we will have to keep this to an English conversation for now) , we will give you at least 5 minutes to describe in your own words the Opps! moment, you may also give your business a gentle plug!
Hows that ?
So let’s get the ball rolling with some of those Opps ! or “Out take” moments that have happened to me.
“Hook – Up”
The first that I remember wasn’t actually related to horticulture it was whilst working during a summer recess from college, working as a summer assistant lock keeper, at Mapledurham, which I think is in Oxfordshire, as I recall a quite well known movie was being filmed at the time called “The Eagle has Landed”, just across the reach from the lock.
On this particular day, there was lots of action and noise from the film set, lots of tourist and regular cruisers plying up and down the Thames. The lock is quite large – from memory nearly 200 ft long and about 16ft wide with a 5 ft rise and fall. Because we were busy we were packing in the boats. Anyway, having filled the lock with boats I opened the sluice gates to let the water out and let the lock water level fall around 5 ft, as this happened I was distracted by the filming. the next minute I turned to see all the boats hooked up with no water beneath! … not a good position to be in !
It took some time to undo the resultant mess….
Sticking to water… one night I was making a visit to a potential client on the way home, it was around dusk, the home owner was a banker, they had a lovely home in Chislehurst, Kent. After a brief talk we took a short stroll around the garden as dusk was fading, it was a long time but it was quite dark by the time we headed back to the house. For some reason, I was talking to the client side by side one moment and the next I was treading muddy water, tearing though a rather decrepit swimming pool cover having missed the dog leg steps on the poolside. The water soon reached my waste, and my suit took on a rather unusual color and smell..meanwhile the client rushed indoors exclaiming I had fallen into the pool, which brought the whole family out giggling !.. somewhat soaking I drove the last 15 miles home. We ended up completing the project, one of the requirements was to break out the miscreant swimming pool !
On another occasion we were contracted to dredge a small lake and construct a weir. ( a pond is in my definition an area of water in which you can throw a stone over it to land on the other bank. A lake is where the stone falls into the water). So dredging a lake is a task, requiring a variety of big toys… in this case we arranged with the local waterways folks to block ( legitimately) the upper inflow channel, allowing the water in the lower lake to fall around 8-12 ft which would allow the use of a piece of equipment similar to a dragline. Unfortunately, whilst we knew the plan, the water folks knew the plan and the parks department knew the plan, nobody had told the security guys – who “unblocked’ the upper lake outfall late in the night, thinking some vandal had blocked up the outfalls !
So after about two days of working we returned in the morning, to find the lake full of water , the equipment marooned 50 ft out in the lake,with their tracks buried and the mud slowly engulfing the cab.. some drastic action was needed, a very heavy lift truck was used to winch out the equipment, and we changed our method of removing the silt,to pumping the now slurry into a temporary lagoon to dry out before carting away.
“An up-lifting experience”
The next was a tad more mundane, well it started that way at least. We had just completed a large ‘cut & fill’ project covering many tens of acres on a setting out ground for a new power station, we were preparing one area of about 30 acres for seeding when suddenly the bomb squad pulled up, I kid you not…
Here is an English sapper exploring on the site !
Apparently they had been told that a lady across the way ( about 1/4mile, you can see the block in the distance) had just recalled a flight of German bombers had dropped their loads of bombs in the 2nd world war ,just where we were working some had failed to explode…
so they dug around for a few days, messing up our seed bed and left, when they failed to find any …..
Some ten years later, whilst preparing for the new Queen Elizabeth II, Dartford bridge, the said 15 or so unexploded bombs were indeed found in the hedge row not 70ft from where the bomb squad had poked around !!!
It was a very useful do not ASSUME moment … you know the meaning don’t Assume as it makes an “ASS out of U and ME”
When you design and build with a number of highly skilled teams, you often can only see a client in the early evening when they come home from work.
This particular evening it was getting late around 8pm, I was a tad tired from driving perhaps 140 miles that day, and wanted to get home.
The client a Brazilian banker, loved detail.. I mean he kept a little book, with jottings in ( it was way more detailed than my site notes – I only kept up because I took pictures of everything).
This particular night we were looking at his pool – not the one in the picture ( I used that as an example) No this pool was an in ground 25 year old pool with a cover, never been emptied and he wanted the pool taken out. Removing 25 year old reinforced concrete pools is hard work, we used to get two a year on average, due to the huge cost of keeping the water warm enough to enjoy a swim.
So this night I’m dressed in a suit, walking next to the client when suddenly, my feet are sort of floating, I had missed the dogleg step area jutting out of the pool and was now attempting to tread water on top of a very old fabric cover, which was tearing fast as I scrambled to get out of this disgusting green smelly liquid..
The client saw what had happened, and ran off to the kitchen… I thought to find perhaps a towel.. but alas no, when I managed to get out somewhat bedraggled, on reaching the back door I hesitated to enter as I was dripping this green smelly liquid everywhere.. I heard ” Darling come quickly with a camera..Mr Coope has fallen in the pool”.. this brought not only his wife but the children as well…who took a few pictures while I sheepishly tried to leave.
The 40 minute drive home was filled with the aroma of a swimming pool that hadn’t been touched in 5 years and the thoughts of what my kids might say, when I finally arrived home !
Ok so this is most important for the final outcome of your project.
Here you will need to come up with a theme or requirement, some are obvious such as better car access or adding a swimming pool, others not so, such as a soft visual appearance, or a colour theme.
Where to start?
I’ve found the best advice here is to visit gardens, homes, garden centers and take pictures of those features you like and would add to your project if you can. Looking in magazines and tearing out the pictures of the style and keeping in a scrap book are also a good way to build up a concept.
1. Initial equipment needed.
A digital camera or smartphone
Notebook and pencil ( pencils are best as they work when its misty or humid outside)
A place to store magazine articles, photographs and notes.
Here’s a before project – the couple were just about to start a family and felt a swimming pool wasn’t a good idea for a young baby
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