Growing Trends our new Radio Show

About three months ago, Ann ( my Co Host on Growing Trends) & I were given the opportunity to Host a radio show, we were basically given the chance to create our very own show, we wanted to be a little different, so after much thought and deliberations ‘Growing Trends’  was born, we would both love to hear what you think ? What we could include in the shows?

We’ve been having a ball talking to the most amazing folks in their spaces, they are in our midst and yet we hardly ever see them in this  light,  we all rush around in our daily lives, heads buried in smartphones or tablets, completely disconnected with the nature that is all around us.

Our guests are all connected by either their garden or the landscape where they work, some are keen gardeners, others technical experts in their field, all are in tune with nature, it’s as if it’s a constant healing process.

“A little oasis in the middle of suburbia.”

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( Belinda & Terry’s Garden)

All find time to re connect almost daily with their space, we feel so privileged to be able to hear all their stories and bring them to you usually in their own homes.

Sometimes the recordings will be a little quirky, it’s because we are not in a studio. Some are far away, and we have to rely on the internet, which gives an odd echo from time to time, but talking to folks in Australia, England, South Africa, brings us all together.

“Chestnut growing down under!”

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( John Stanley’s Australian outback)

We caught up with John in Australia early one morning.

“In my global work I see new trends in merchandising, display, social media marketing, general retailing, culinary eco-tourism and lifestyle retail”

we will catch up with John again shortly in the meantime.

“Finding happiness in a garden – how it’s done at the Kelly Gallery”


(Kelly Daniels – The Kelly Gallery)

Kelly was just inspirational , almost magical, her photography is enchanting.

You can find us on the internet at , or download the phone app Live365 or you can  download Growing Trends as a podcast from the website.

Our upcoming schedule is both varied, fun and very different, here’s a few pictures taken on locations we visited..just wait till you hear the stories…

( half-pint McGee !)

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“A simple stunning memorial garden”

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” A sculpture park extraordinaire”



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Weekend Landscape & Garden Projects

if you need some inspiration for a small landscape or garden project read on….

We’ve been designing & building dream gardens for homeowners for 40 years now, winning awards, being creative and watching various trends come & go, customers desires and generally  listening to clients wishes.

Some have been quite modest…  as below.

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others rather more ambitious..


Almost all the clients, wanted to complete some of the work themselves. The part they most wanted to do was the planting, either spring, summer or fall bedding, bulb planting, or perennial , shrub and herb planting. Recently we have seen an interest in vegetable growing.

Being folks that listen to our customers , it’s how we win awards, we also understood that we would have to make it much easier for folks, than a traditional planting plan we started out a few years ago to develop a new easy way to layout a planting scheme- we consulted other experts , eventually settling on one method with two products ( one a normal version the other an eco friendly version). inspired we then applied for a patent.( this in itself should be the subject of a blog all on its own)

Last week I am very happy to say we picked up our patent for the “Weekend Garden Kit”, which I have to confess  was exciting,  a big thank you for all who helped us, of which there were many.

Here’s how it works.

Weekend Garden Kit

This simple to use system enables you to place the plants & features in the correct position without the need for time consuming setting out or measuring.


By using a grid system , we can add the position on the pot label, it makes the whole process much faster, and less likely for error. – they actually come as part of the kit.


so to set this out all you need is the special landscape fabric and where to plant or place the feature.


The result should then be this


To make this even easier we developed a free app called “PicaGardi” available on iTunes, Google play and Kindle to enable you to see ‘How ‘ an idea might look in your own project before you buy, take a look it’s fun and free and works on Phones and Tablets.

You can download it  here

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You can either select a picture from your ‘Gallery’ or take a new one with the ‘Camera’ button, then press ‘Ideas’ to see and idea float across the screen, tap it, pinch, scale and place to see how it would look on your project.

Phone app clean

If you would like to make some comments or suggestions or just receive more information please fill in the form..


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Edibles continued….

Continuing from our last blog, we move to a slightly larger herb and veggie garden. Using our newly patented Weekend Garden Kits.


We’ve also added some african marigolds to help keep pests away, our next one will include some nasturtiums to further help protect naturally.

This garden uses one of our recently patented Weekend Garden Kits, which helps save a huge amount of time, reduces significantly weed growth and helps preserve moisture levels.

By purchasing the kit early, you can use it to almost effortlessly remove weeds in your plot area – this is achieved quite simply by, marking out the area and then covering with a generous layer of old newspapers, place the weekend garden kit fabric over the newspaper and use the pegs provided to keep in position. After about 4- 6 weeks all the weed growth beneath will have been stopped and the earth should be almost clear.

Simply remove the newspapers, and any debris, reset the weekend garden kit, and plant as directed for the chosen layout.

The one above took less than 2 hours to plant  you can see how here.

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The Hedge


Often used to create a boundary between sections of gardens, or to lead you around a garden, or to act as a privacy barrier, a hedge can be a very useful garden tool.

We’ve even used ones for security – by choosing a suitably thorny subject it can make it impossible for someone or something to get through it.

Here the hedge is used as an entrance into a garden, creating some privacy and yet leading the eye to the main terrace doors.


A hedge can be grown using any plant material that will withstand clipping , so the list is quite large. At the smaller end you have the traditional box hedging often used in kitchen gardens, or to surround ornamental flower beds, as seen below.


To create a less formal barrier, you could use forsythia – but remember that forsythia flowers of last years wood, so pruning and shaping should be restricted to just after flowering if possible. Hornbeam, Beech, Rose , Escallonia, Cotoneaster, Laurel, Yew, Leylandii, Thuja all make a nice  hedge .


of course the height you desire makes a difference in choice


The height is also dictated by how often and by what method is used to keep the hedge clipped. As can be seen below, this hedge would take many hours to keep it in this condition.




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Herbs & Edibles in the landscape.

As youngster I remember going blackberry & wild raspberry picking in the hedgerows in the country lanes near where we lived in England. Then later after I was married we would holiday in the Jura mountains in France each year, where we would hike a few days and find the most amazing tiny wild strawberries  and a blue berry  ( makes the most amazing Tarte au Myrtilles)  with the most intense flavors. All washed down with a delightful Crement du Cerdon slightly sweet sparkling wine.


In England we would often pop down to the local ‘Pick your Own’ and gather raspberries, strawberries and sometimes gooseberries when in season.


Which was great fun, especially as we could test taste a few along the way….

Today there is a much bigger demand for growing your own at home, due in part to a return to more natural activities ( getting lost behind a small screen is ok, it’s not very energetic, and it’s probably a strain on the eyes) . A lot of today’s youngsters would like to know how to grow plants. Many younger adults are seeking to help them, whilst us old-en’s have the knowledge.


The trick is, as always a balanced approach, until you feel confident enough to really ‘go for it’

Can you see the edibles in the picture below?


Of course if you happen to have the odd Châteaux just lying around you could always develop something on a rather more grand scale..


Sadly unless you happen to be a Hedge Fund manager, Politician, CEO of a public company or Daddy was very generous this approach is beyond most of us.

So with this in mind we have started to develop a rather novel approach, tailored to today’s rather busy folks and designed to grow with you as they say. First however, try something quick easy and useful, a Deck or Patio vertical herb garden. – just growing a few herbs is both fun, educational and beneficial.


Once you are happy with the herbs, then start being more adventurous, depending on the space available you can start a larger edibles garden.

The next phase, slightly larger edible area will be our next blog, along with ideas on how to implant within the landscape.

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Landscape gardens for a purpose

Today I thought we might make a start on Landscape gardens with a purpose. There are any number of reasons for starting to develop a landscape, or for that matter to continue with one that has been developing over the years. Sometimes we want to create spaces for particular needs and wishes, these can range from play areas, to formal areas to potagers and topiary etc.,

We can also create gardens for those among us who have, for what ever reason lost or been born without all our senses or are disabled in some other way.

Lets start with one of the  senses…sight.

We designed and built our first Garden for the blind some 22 years ago at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, the idea was to use the other senses of touch and smell to create an interesting area for someone who could not ‘see’ the flowers or structures, but was able to take in the various scents and feel the different textures.

So in addition to be able to hear water, touch stone, brick, wood and plant leaves, you could also smell flower scents, touch and smell aromatic herbs etc.,

It was also possible by using different textures of paving for someone to ‘feel’ their way around the garden and know (with practice) where they were.


Some years later quite by chance I had the opportunity of taking a partially sighted student on our sailing boat.

It took this  fellow about five minutes to understand where the wind was coming from, and his sense of touch was so good he

was able to adjust the sail trim & thus the boats heeling just from feeling the mainsheet with one hand. His other hand was holding the tiller and the pressure from the rudder told him how easily and thus quickly we were sailing..


Moving to wheelchairs.

Creating a garden for wheelchair access requires a few sensible initial planning steps. The first is, it is really quite a good idea to have a hard surface on which the wheel chair can travel ( or should I say perambulate, mmm  much more descriptive) around the landscape.

So concrete, asphalt, hard paving in the form of brick or block or slabs all work well. Grass, bark, gravel etc are not very suitable as they tend to make it much harder to move the wheelchair, they also tend to make it dirty.

The next considerations are the width of the path – I’ve always believed paths should be wide enough for two people to walk side by side, it’s much more friendly and inviting to take an afternoon ‘Constitutional’ walk around your garden landscape – it reminds me of the age old tradition of the mayors of towns and village ‘beating the bounds’ once a year. With two people walking side by side a path width is best at around 5ft ( 1.4m) , this works well for a wheel chair too as most need about 32inches clearance when considering the users hands.

The final and perhaps most important design consideration apart from the initial access and egress is the ground contouring, often gardens have changes in levels, these can be quite severe at times and often involve steps ( wheel chairs are not good with steps), they are also an incredible amount of work on steep slopes. So a wise soul has come up with a standard that suggest fairly sensibly that a slope of no more than 1 in 12 is used ( that means 1ft change in level for every 12 ft travelled) , well it could also mean 1m change in level for every 12 m travelled, but I figured that was obvious. To this I might suggest that a 1in12 slope hundreds of yards long isn’t such a great idea with out some resting landings as it is still a lot of work involved. So there is an additional requirement for a landing every 30 ft in length.

Finally, if an event is planned it isn’t that hard to create a temporary access ramp that can be removed when its over.

In the picture below we created a disabled ramp, that double as a pretend boat launching ramp.



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Are we moving back to a more traditional garden landscape?


Anyone know what this wild flower is?

We’ve conducted five interviews this month, with many more in the pipeline. What’s been really interesting to see is that many homeowners genuinely want to grow many more of their own vegetables and herbs.

Given the effects of climate change on major food production areas like California this is probably a very opportune time to be doing this, although it is a good idea to plan and prepare correctly, otherwise results may turn out unpredictable.

The biggest surprise is that many already have quite large vegetable growing areas, some are actual kitchen gardens, others  are interspersed within the existing garden landscape ( for those of you in the USA us Brits refer to a ‘yard’ as the rear garden landscape, and for the Brits reading this a ‘yard’ was an old imperial measurement that went out of fashion in the 1970’s).

So it seems many are experimenting with growing vegetables, herbs and fruits.

Across Europe there have since the time of the Great War been public areas that are often known as ‘Allotments’ – an allotment was a small area of public land that is usually enclosed, and managed by the local town, it has parcels of land often in strips that are rented to local residents specifically to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers. Today a more modern name might be ‘Community Gardens’ – although often community gardens involve a collective approach rather than the individual growing plot.

What’s also starting to emerge are ‘School Gardens’ this is particularly good to see as young children are now learning some of the secrets to growing and harvesting vegetables and fruits, as well as then learning how to preserve and cook them.

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We will be interviewing a number of these ‘School Garden’ groups in the coming weeks, some have been around for many years, they have mastered the curriculum so that this wonderful resource becomes a true education learning cycle.

The term Organic growing often turns up in these areas. The science of GMO seed’s and increased pesticide use has many skeptical about long term health effects, and new studies and books are beginning to emerge with additional information about the effects on allergy sufferers, asthma , etc.

We are horticulturists not scientists so our observation will be focused on the growing aspects, although we do see that the Bee population has been decimated in recent years – without bees over 80% of our food production could be seriously impacted, what is causing this malaise is only just beginning to become apparent, although it appears that increased pesticides is not helping.

Our first interviews with vegetable growers will be with traditional ‘Organic Farmers’ so we can see how they grow and produce a crop, if there is enough interest we can explore the world of the more mechanical intensive growers, just let us know what you would like us to add to our shows .

Growing Trends can be heard daily at 1pm & 7pm Central Time at


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Interview spots


We thought one of our interviews should be on board a sailing boat, after all it’s about as tranquil and peaceful as

a lovely garden – unless like yesterday it was blowing at about 40 mph ( then it requires a little more skill and a lot less sails)

First however our next interviews are going to be fun.


The first is in an absolutely amazing sculpture garden, that has 13 Henry Moore sculptures among a host of others that are equally interesting. Sculptures are fantastic for creating a interesting focal point in a garden, leading the eye from one part to another as you travel through the garden and it’s story unfolds. Sadly sculptures like these superb Henry Moore’s are beyond most folks budgets, although a number of firms make very acceptable stone sculptures, urns and statues.

The next is with a truly traditional  organic vegetable grower, this is a growing trend as we discover more and more information about some of the effects of GMO seeds and the long term effects of today’s insecticides & pesticides.

The opportunity to design, develop and use the garden landscape is now more important than ever, with the erratic climate swings we’ve been experiencing, growing your own vegetables is both economical, generally healthier in many ways, and fun.

Schools are beginning to realise that not only is it a learning resource but also a huge cost saving when it comes to providing nutritional foods for the kids to eat – the kids learn where their food comes from, how to grow it, and then how to prepare and eat it – a truly win, win , win situation.

With the advent of vertical gardens, and mixed planting in pots, it’s possible to grow herbs and vegetables even on the smallest of spaces, all you need is light, protection from extreme heat and cold and of course water.


This herb pot is quick & easy to create and will last most of the summer.





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Growing Trends internet radio

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Yesterday was the launch of our new internet radio show, it’s really all about people, how they make a difference to the environment they live in, how they have created their very own paradise, landscape or garden space, where they retreat to recharge their batteries after a hectic working day.

Each has it’s very own charisma, all are different, personal, delightful and special, Ann and I are very grateful to these wonderful people opening their truly amazing spaces to us, to interview them.

You can find us at – Growing Trends, we hope you will enjoy each visit with us. Please do, drop us a line at ask a question or request we visit you, or like us on Facebook  – Growing Trends where you can see more pictures of the garden landscapes we visit each week.

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Growing Trends is now on air

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So folks now you can get to hear our dulcet tones along with our pretty pictures and design ideas.

Our very own internet radio show is available to all , you can find us at the show is called Growing Trends, and broadcasts at 1pm and 7pm central time. Ann Miller & Chris Coope are the Co Hosts.

Do take a moment to listen, and by all means send us a note at  – a nice note please ! or even a question, you never know we may be able to answer it for you.

On the other hand if you have an interesting landscape we could interview you..



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