Impact Garden

This customer was thrilled to have her ideas become reality. She wanted to create a raised area on which she could install a small water feature. Furthermore, it had to be low maintenance and have a Zen feel to it. She chose two types of slate chips (plum and blue) and mixed them together which work well and I shall store that idea for future use. This was all her vision…I merely provided the brawn :-) I have been assured that photos will follow after her spending spree on plants.


Impact Garden

My customer for this project has a love of plants. She also has a need for an area in which she may relax and enjoy her garden and the frequent visits from the local bird life. Most importantly was a wish for an extremely low maintenance garden that would accommodate her numerous pots. I was also asked to add a storage space at the bottom of the garden which i did using existing paving slabs and have manage to hide this space by building a couple of planters. She was delighted with this idea as it meant…more plants :-)

Now that my customer has finished planting and placing her pots she has kindly sent me some photos as well as a video which I have shared below.

Impact garden updated

I was working yesterday morning in a garden for which I had previously created a sandstone patio. The morning was a continuation of the persistent rain we have experienced all week but the sun finally broke through and I was able to use the patio to enjoy a spot of lunch.

Here are a few photos of how the patio looks now and a reminder of what the area was like before.

A new love in my life...

…and that would be Wales, or more accurately North Wales or to zoom in further still Snowdonia National Park. For the geographical purists amongst you I refer specifically to Snowdon Mountain and for the socially challenged try 53°04'4.75" N, -4°04'19.27" W.

I have lived in the UK for nigh on 28 years and have never visited Wales but that was recently remedied as I spent the weekend camping with a friend and hiking up Snowdon. The brief was quite simple (pitch a tent and hike up Snowdon) and my requirements were even less demanding albeit, in hindsight, ambitious (no rain) Overall, two out of three ain’t bad.

When we set off towards the summit, which we were unable to see, it was blind optimism that convinced us that the cloud and mist would lift and the drizzle would abate. As we ascended the drizzle did ease off but visibility remained poor. Our optimism was challenged when greeted by fellow hikers on their way down with hoods pulled firmly over their heads, the drawstrings tightened so that only their eyes were exposed. Pleasantries were briefly exchanged and on enquiring as to the conditions at the summit the reply was simply “shit!”.

We reached the summit and the conditions were certainly less than ideal. It was dry though. And very crowded. My hiking partner excitedly sprung into action and produced a small gas burner and proceeded to tell me how much he was looking forward to his cup of coffee. He rather smugly produced a container in which was the cream he had carried up for his perfect cup. The look on his face when he opened the container and found the cream had churned to butter was worth the hike alone, actually the whole weekend!

And then the weather began to change for the better and we were afforded previews of the surrounding hills and peaks. It was stunningly beautiful and while photographs give a sense of the location they do not capture the sounds or smells or accurately depict the scale and perspective. I was enchanted.

Preparations are underway to do it all again very soon and my son is keen to tag along :-)

Impact Garden

I really like the simplicity and scale of these raised beds/planters. Being bespoke they can be constructed to fit as required and here they are utilised as a living barrier between the road and the walkway.

I have a project in the pipeline which would use a similar concept to create a staggered divide in a garden and also serve to hide a storage area. I may add a trellis to one of the planters for some extra height.

These could also be used as a surround for a patio providing contrast, height and plants. Also serves as a wind breaker.

The length, width and height can be adjusted and mixed to provide variation. They can also be used to replace troublesome borders…the ones that constantly weed over and the clay is too hard to work :-)

They are handy for, shall I say, the less agile amongst us, as the height would allow for easier plant maintenance.

Always up for further ideas on how to utilise planters (Pintrest is useful but not complete) so feel free to comment on ideas of your own.

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Morning Walk

I am fortunate to live close to a lake which provides the perfect route for a brisk twenty minute “warm up” every morning. I have taken a number of photographs over the past few months and have been rewarded on countless occasions with the most stunning sunrises. As my wife is more of a night owl she thinks it is utter madness to get up so early and complete lunacy to then tog up and go for a walk in “the middle of the night” but it is my favourite time of day and I love how energised I feel when I get back. Guess I will have to continue on my own then :-)

Coffee Time

I drove to Acorn (MK) Nurseries this morning to choose and collect some well established ‘Red Robin’ shrubs for a customer.

On the way back I popped into Alban Hill Nurseries , a few minutes apart, to see what spring plants were available. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafted my way.

In the words of Oscar Wilde, “I can resist anything but temptation”…

By the way, I thoroughly recommend both nurseries. Acorn Nurseries is much larger and has more choice, however, there are no facilities to speak of and that is reflected in the prices. On average they are pretty much 50% less than what you would pay in a garden centre for the same plant. Alban Hill is smaller and not as cheap but it does have a lovely coffee shop which serves food too.

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Impact Gardening

The original path to the front door was destroyed when a water leak was discovered directly below it and had to be dug up in order to fix the leak. The customer was looking for a more permanent solution to the decking boards that were once in place so I suggested Indian Sandstone. I love working with this material for a number of reasons. It is a natural product, it feels smooth and cool, it is much lighter to work with than the average utility paving stones ( something my back is grateful for ) and I love the way they look - no two stones are exactly the same but together they still produce a uniformity.

A few more bags of shingle and a spot of weeding also helped to create the impact :-)

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Scale and Perspective

The news from New Zealand this morning was upsetting and shocking. Intolerance does not support humanity. It serves no one.

I do not wish to express political or religious views but rather to counteract the horror by reminding one that nature is more grand than all of us. Below are some images of how I would prefer to view New Zealand. That is not to disrespect or deny what has happened but rather to express the scale and perspective in relation to these stunning wonders of nature. Nature will ultimately win the game of survival. We would do well to learn how to co-exist with her and each other.

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Impact Gardening

The brief for this project was simple. To repair a path and to create an area which extends from the summer house on which the customer could sit and enjoy the sunshine.

The impact has been immediate as the customer was able to sit on her new patio and once more appreciate and notice the sounds of her pond. She was “delighted”. Another customer reconnecting with nature.

Just the grouting to finish once the frosts disappear :-)

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Harmony between man and nature.

In my early teens I remember being captivated by a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright called Falling water. It is probably his most famous design and the way he combined modernity with an integration with nature is still breathtaking today. Harmony between man and nature.

Of course we can not all achieve the scale of Fallingwater but the message is certainly achievable. There is comfort, joy, hope, health, happiness, vitality and sheer pleasure to be found when we connect with our outdoor space.


** Competition Time **

My last post suggested that you pop down to the garden centre and sweep up a wonderful potted display to instantly add joy to your lives. Now, I’m sure most of you manged to do this but no doubt there will be someone who was unable to do so :-)

I will giveaway a display either exactly like the one pictured below or very similar and all that is required for a chance to win this is to leave a comment as to what is your favourite plant and to tag a friend in that comment.

I will assign a number to each comment(with tag) and a winner will simply be randomly picked at the end of the competition. Of course the person tagged can enter too by commenting and tagging someone too. The closing date is 5 pm on Friday 8 March 2019. Please tag a friend who is reasonably local, say within 10-15 miles of Milton Keynes. As much as I would love to hand deliver a pot of flowers to someone in Australia, I’m afraid I can’t :-)


Affordable Impact

The shift in light and temperature this week prompted a visit to the garden centre. There was a wonderful display of colours, arrangements, scents and ideas.

The pots were particularly eye catching and would offer instant impact to any environment. Perhaps a pot or two placed outside your front door. Impact the eyes and the soul. I challenge you not to break into a smile every time you walk past it.

I took these photos yesterday at Frosts Woburn Sands. They are a fantastic garden centre and in my opinion continually provide quality, inspiration and innovation. No, I’m not paid to say that :-)

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Nature is still in charge...for now.

There is a constant stream of information regarding the environment and our contribution to its demise. The opinions of experts are often divided so it becomes difficult to decide just how much damage we have done and continue to do. One thing is still evident though and that is nature’s ability to reclaim once we have left. I often find this reassuring as well as inspirational for my work.

Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia.jpeg

Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia.

The Abandoned Fishing Village of Houtouwan, China.png

The Abandoned Fishing Village of Houtouwan, China.

Pripyat amusement park, Chernobyl.jpeg

Pripyat amusement park, Chernobyl.

Red Bike, USA.jpeg

Red Bike, USA.

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The Tunnel of Love, Ukraine.

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Valley of the Mills, Italy.

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Car Cemetery, Belgium.

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Abandoned Railway, Paris.

Who was Doc Rock?

Growing up ‘Doc Rock’ was an inspirational columnist for a monthly surf magazine. He provided insights and tips to do with surfing, the ocean and nature as well as encouraging subscribers to write in with their questions and problems. A kind of surf and lifestyle agony aunt if you like. His columns were mostly informative, sometimes humorous and often with a nod towards better living through connecting with nature.

The name always stuck and now an opportunity has presented itself whereby I can rekindle the spirit of ‘The Doc’ and produce regular insights and comments on gardens and the great outdoors. While surfing and the ocean may no longer be at the heart, I hope the direction and tone will follow the soul of his articles and facilitate an appreciation of nature wherever you are.