I have very few if any heroes in horticulture. Maybe that there didn’t exist many when I first grew seeds way back in 1981. Maybe growing up we very simply weren’t a family that did a whole lot of sitting still, Mom 😉 And that act would by default have included being seated in front of the tele visual.
When I got to an age when I could afford to buy books, that were not second hand and pre 1960’s brimmed with illustrations, as versus images, one of the first that I treated myself to was a book by Andrew Wilson. I was not aware of Andrew at the time and though there is no specific reason why I purchased the book, I can tell you that in 2004, it cost me €36.75.
In 2007 Andrew judged my Silver medal garden and in Bloom 2008 he was there again. Some Peter growing up, baby changes and almost four years later, today, fresh from The Chelsea Flower show where he was a judge for The RHS in one catgeory and in another where his garden design won Silver-Gilt and now judging at Bloom 2013, we got to meet again.
Garden merits and acclaims aside Andrew is an absolute gentleman and this Friday on The Sodshow we sit down to talk in part 1 of a 2 part show.
And if you’re maybe wondering why my head hair is a bit Olly Mursoverly quiffed messed up, I had literally just crawled out of a hedge 30 minutes previous 😉 Back to gardens; I’ll return to landscaping here on the blog tomorrow, or the next day. I’ll see how dirty or clean my hands are.
The next big Q is when or if I’ll make a return to show gardening and/ or Bloom 2014. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m gonna go for a cuppa. I’ve got a garden to finish with a tomorrow deadline and a jeep to remove much foliage from.
I’m sometimes hesitant to recommend composters in gardens. Partly when it comes to those spaces a little more dimensionally challenged, but more often it becomes a dilemma [or not] when it comes to gardens that are set to become a little more eloquent in their [after works are complete] appearance.
Where do you put that thing that should not be seen or just does not fit in ?
I get the point where biodiversity, wild flower meadows and potato peels not heading to landfill is the route we should all be travelling. But equally, there is a lot to be said for damn good-looking sexy gardens and I’m not too sure that hedgehogs and piles of leaves fit in with the latest Brown Thomas collection, if you get where I’m coming from.
When we think back on the eloquence of 17th and 18th Century garden design the thought process was quite different from todays. The messy fellows namely the herbaceous, the vegetables and fruit gardens, were to an extent hidden. It may have been within a walled garden, behind rows of Buxus semprevirens or quite simply to the far left of the sunken garden; And though the layout did vary hither dither, the immediate view from the home was one of grandiose stately and proportionate beauty with consideration for each season in it’s very evident pre-planning.
With that in mind why, would I wish to place a grey plastic cube or other so visible within my space outdoors ?
Sometimes, the space simply just does not exist for one to fit into the great wish list. Equally there is a case where practical straight lined paths to the shed, bypassing the washing line as you go is not in any way the greatest way to showcase the prettiest in the room.
My composting area is constructed a bit like above, from pallets bolted together. I have chosen to surround the outer with a wall of Bay Laurel [Laurus nobilis] hedging – it also means masses of the herb free gratis – the dark glossy green foliage now forming the back drop for what is a bright coloured red bench. Minimal it maybe, but my garden is set on about 1 acre, allowing me a little more freedom and space to play with.
And play with it I do. It is a constant tesing ground for designs and concepts that may pop into my head…. just, to be sure, to be sure 😉
Irrespective of budget and garden size, I’ve always felt the better gardens completed are those where the client divulges the full want list. This may or may not include a composting bin or other. But the trouble aesthetically, is always when one tries to squeeze something into a space after the garden has already been designed to suit.
I created this split on two level garden some time ago now. The one thing I love about it, is just that. Well, that and the fact that, just a couple of metres away, there is a journey to get to somewhere else that isn’t actually that far away.
Surprisingly that’s a bit of a rarity installed in the thinking behind many a gardens. In that I refer to the journey, of the imagination and the within the garden. More than that, there’s something in our Irish genetic make up that makes us want to go around that corner, to that place that feels that little further away. In garden design, that’s a good thing. That intrigue, makes a space more interesting and instills a sense of wonder that is the reason why, maybe, some gardens feel better than others as a getaway, an escape or a haven.
In reality, this garden isn’t that long. ie. from back door to back wall. But with the longest points from one angle to the other used to its best, it definitely does not feel that way.
I like to think of the setting now being slightly Rolling Stones on vinyl as versus brand spanking new shiny compact disc. Partly that has come by way of what the space pre my gettingthere inherited. It’s also a lot down to the new planting – which was a mixture of semi mature instant and brand spanking new youth – this giving the resulting fresh umph; A sort of looks like its been there for ages, yet extremely well maintained, with a hint of fresh. Behind the scenes however, it was a very different story that began with just a pile of clay.
Although it may be considered sometimes mildly bold the use of a feature colour in garden design, when one looks back through the ages and historically we quickly realise there is absolutely nothing new to its use at all.
Red seems to resonate more with some when referring to Oriental themed type gardens – a garden style that uses a usually green or basic colour range, at least when compared to that of the olde English type herbaceous borders. Historic, avant-garde or modern-day, that it is used to lead the eye from afar or [reworded maybe] to draw one to a particular space, in its most basic explanation what it does is change entirely what would have been a pretty bland and monotone photograph.
The following examples and explanations show that there is little variance behind the theory in the usage of the colour. More than that it also shows when used correctly just how effective one colour can change the entire feel of a gardens design and your space outside.
1. The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens
On the go since the 18th Century – The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens are one of my all time favourites ever visited. But, can you picture just how boring [?] this image might be if the red was removed ? It may well be exciting to the plants person or horticulturist like myself, from afar or when up close – but as a garden to draw one in – would it actually do that ?
2. A Red Garden Bench
A stark change from The Monte Palace Gardens of Madeira but – this is the most basic format in which I have used and can show this theory – put simple, a bright colour against a neutral backdrop. A solitary garden seat that prior to was beige and appeared so, aged in appearance on a dark shaded side to the garden that very simply needed a lift. Personally, I knew I liked sitting here – but it just didn’t feel it was entirely me when it was just so bland. Can you picture the grey beige bench ? A much, much happier place to sit and have a coffee now.
3. The Red Dead Tree
Just like the walkway of the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, the colour palette I used in this garden is a smooth groove from brown to yellow to green – all great neighbours on the colour wheel. What was required was something that would stand out whilst the similar coloured flowering Penstemons were not in flower, yet also compliment when they were. The red-painted dead Sophora isn’t as stark and unusual as one might think in situ – yet just enough to bolt some inspiration into a fairly solid toned plant choice colour base.
4. The Red Satellite
Once again the colour palette here is quite close on the spectrum, but it was my recycling of my own satellite painted bright red that created the highlight in this garden. Sometimes it is the mildly unusual, highlighted, that can change the entire image of how a garden is perceived. Just imagine for a moment [once again] if you can how this garden might have looked had I chosen not to use it ?
5. The Red Exhaust Pipe Bird Feeder
The exhaust pipe bird feeder – a little different, a little intrigue and whilst the planting had a little to go in order to make this image a little more picturesque, it is clear to see that yet again the neutral colour scheme is used to highlight the more unusual. Imagine if you will, that all the plants are red ? In which case I’d most likely have painted the exhaust pipe photosynthetic green.
And the more we think about it – the more we see it. Masses of green with red being used to highlight where we are intended to go towards and what it is the [beauty is in the eye of] beholder actually wants us to see. Highbury Stadium maybe an unusual one to finish off with but as an image, it proves the point – once again, just imagine if you will for a moment, should the seats be coloured green…. or see below.
The attendees in this case were 75% [approximate] apartment dwellers/ balcony owners. the other 25% only wished to garden that same amount of space [unless Nick came up with a great idea 😉 ]. Of course, if everyone had allotments/ waned to garden a larger space – parsley *and parsnip would have been covered. In this case a logic decision to skip most of the root crops was taken…. think rotovator and balcony!
I covered all that I intended and felt was needed from sowing seeds – what, which and why to watering. Onto potatoes, onions, sets growing in window boxes and to plants in a small space such as herbs and the pruning, growing and selecting of so that they could be kept there. I could beat on but Louise really does summise it very well.
From an alternate perspective. Did the €60 cover charge multiplied by 7 people make it worth my while to do so. No. Not on your nelly. The reason why? We did demonstrations and all of the products [one each of everything] used were taken away. I knew to make money, how I should do it and a comment on the garden blog confirms that. That and the twitter message. No offence Geoff mate 😉
Try it yourself. Go into a garden centre, pick up some seed potatoes, onion sets, 2/3 window boxes, some pots, compost and seeds and see how much it costs…. growing your own can be cheap… when you know how 😉 If I’m to talk however on garden design with zero overheads…. Ye know yourself. Moving on….
The flip side of that however is something very different. Did I enjoy it ? More than you realise. I really am so pleased that such a nice group of people collated so I could talk about something I love so much.
I know that doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t even cover the time spent baking and collecting the products we did use. And yes if I wish to do it again and again I need to refine. But then I knew that already. It was always to be a trial. A way of noting and timing. Perfecting one could say. Perfecting for those those who do attend.
Now I’m just wondering if there’s another 9 or 10 people who’d be interested…. While I brew on that… I’ll go water my own seeds.
note: it was Jason’s idea that I did this in the first place. Thanks mate. I also borrowed some of his images for this post.
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