Category: Style Counsel: snippets on garden styles


Gardening-Boots2Two new rounds of my courses on Garden Design and Grow Your Own Food for Beginners start soon, and I’m also offering a new, one day course on Wildlife Gardening. I ran the last Garden Design course earlier this year and had great feedback on it (I even had a thank you present from the students!). All the courses feature a lot of group discussion and some practical tasks as well as useful tips and tricks to help particpants apply what they learn to their own plots.

The Garden Design course takes students through a customised design process, prompting a fresh look at participants’ own gardens, giving them the opportunity to develop their own ideas in a systematic way and benefitting from ideas generated in the whole group. I support participants to draw up their own scale plan design for their garden and supply plenty of useful background information and links to helpful web sources as well as the opportunity to borrow from my own garden book library. The course can also feature a visit to a well known garden to look at design ideas in practice.

The ‘GYO’ course is aimed at food-growing beginners or novices and gets off to a flying start with making paper pots and sowing broad bean seeds. It also prompts students to look at what they want to eat/grow and how they might do this most effectively in their own plots – this can include growing in containers for those with little or no garden.The course includes a visit to Old School Garden to look at my own approach to food growing, and covers topics like soils and soil improvement, growing under glass, encouraging beneficial wildlife into your garden and how to effectively control pests and diseases.

Narrow beds in the Kitchen Garden at Old School GardenNarrow beds in the Kitchen Garden at Old School Garden

The one day Wildlife Gardening course, taking place at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, makes use of the Wildlife Garden at the Museum and includes some practical work to help develop the wildlife -friendly features there as well as helping participants to focus on their own gardens and gardening practices. The aim is for them to develop  their own action plans for the future.

The Wild life Garden at Gressenhall Farm and Museum

The Wild life Garden at Gressenhall Farm and Museum

The courses are fast filling up but there are some places still available if you’re quick!

They are running as follows:

Garden Design–  6 Monday evenings, 7pm-9pm at Reepham High School & College, commencing on 12th May.

Grow Your Own Food for Beginners – 6 Wednesday evenings, 7pm-9pm at Reepham High School and College, commencing 14th May.

Get more details and how to enrol at www.reephamlearningcommunity.co.uk

Wildlife Gardening- Sunday 18th May, 10am-4pm at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum, near Dereham.

For more information on this and other short courses at the Museum see www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Old School Gardener

What if all new houses had to be built with living roofs? Imagine if your apartment rent also included free fruit and vegetables from the roof garden…
http://ecosalon.com/high-tech-green-roof-technology-in-architecture/

living wall

Image by: Laura Manning

A guest article by Gavin Harvey

As urban spaces are growing, the desire to have a little bit of nature return to the living and working space is greater than ever. Living green walls help to escape the wasteland of concrete we find ourselves in, and counteract pollution to restore a natural balance to the local atmosphere.

Invented by Stanley Hart White in 1938, living green walls (also called vertical gardens or eco-walls) are more than just climbing plants. It is sustainable architecture at its finest!

 Benefits of Living Green Walls

With the expansion of cities everywhere, air pollution has increased; unknown to many people, toxins are not only outdoors on the streets filled with car fumes, but can build up indoors too thanks to air fresheners, cooking fumes and myriad other things. Plants filter these pollutants and improve air quality, whether that’s indoors or outdoors.

Living green walls on the outside of buildings also help to reduce energy costs by cooling the building in summer and insulating it in winter. Damages to walls are minimised by regulating the temperature fluctuations and diverting rainwater from the wall. Plants have long been used to block high frequency sounds on roadsides, and living green walls are a new way of diminishing noise pollution in busy urban areas.

Green walls also increase the property’s value by gaining LEED credits! This is an internationally recognised green building certification system, which rewards commercial buildings and home owners alike for developing certain green criteria.

 How Does it Work?

According to the climate of the location, carefully selected plants are put on structures that are either free-standing or attached to walls. These are irrigated by a drip-irrigation method, using recirculation systems to reduce water wastage.

Each wall is individually designed for the specific project. Plants for the exterior differ from those you would use indoors. They are chosen according to climate zones, usually for a higher zone than the location’s climate to ensure survival. Plants that have a wide range of tolerances and are able to adapt to a new environment quickly are perfect for the green walls.

If required, the wall can even feature a custom design, such as a logo crafted from carefully planted blooms in different colours.

 Cost and Maintenance

Plants grown on the wall are the cheaper option, but they will need a year before they are fully grown so if you want a stunning display immediately this isn’t your best option. Plants grown off-site and later inserted into the wall have their cost, as the nursery has to be paid plus fertilisers and day-to-day care.

Maintenance is crucial for a long-lasting living green wall. As the technology is still relatively young, it is hard to tell how long the plants will survive. The hardware can last up to 25 years whereas the plants will only grow until their roots run out of space within the panels, so it’s wise to choose species that don’t grow very rapidly! Plants in a tray system have to be replaced every year.

For more information about living green walls, check out The Ultimate Guide to Living Green Walls.

 Thanks to Gavin Harvey and Johann Heb for supplying this article.

You might also be interested in – Style Counsel: Gardens in the Sky

Old School Gardener

 

A Roof Garden by Hugo Nicolle Design

A Roof Garden by Hugo Nicolle Design

This ‘snippet on style’ focuses on gardening above ground – roof gardens (including ‘green roofs’), balconies and vertical gardens. Growing plants above ground has been going on for centuries: e.g. the ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia and the Villa of the Mysteries in Roman Pompeii.

Roof gardens

A roof garden is any garden on the roof of a building. Roof gardens can be of ornamental value – especially in urban locations where no ground level garden is available. They can also play a part in:

  • providing food – Trent University has a rooftop garden which provides food to the student café and local citizens
  • temperature control – plants can help to reduce heat absorption on buildings (so reducing the need for artificial air conditioning), achieving a cooling of the environment by between 3.6 and 11.3 degrees Celsius
  • controlling and harvesting rain water run off – where urban areas are increasingly hard – surfaced, roof gardens can delay peak run off and so help to prevent flooding, as well as retaining moisture for later use by the plants.
  • adding to the appearance of a building
  • providing habitats or corridors for wildlife
  • recreational opportunities
PicPost: Up on the roof

A great place to grow vegetables

Cultivating food on the rooftops of buildings is sometimes referred to as rooftop farming, and is usually done using special systems such as hydroponics, aeroponics/air-dynaponics or in containers. These systems can also help to reduce the stress on the roof that would otherwise have to carry a depth of soil over its whole surface. Sometimes as well as using the space on a roof, additional growing areas are added as ‘air bridges’ between buildings.

In creating a roof garden there are several important factors to consider:

  • primarily the bearing capacity of the roof structure – this can be designed to be minimal, so really creating a ‘green roof’ (bearing about 100-300kgs per square metre) or ‘stepable’ (bearing over 300kgs per square metre)

  • prevention of roots and water penetrating the roof structure

  • the inclination of the roof (this should not exceed 30°)

  • the altitude of any attic, etc.

Roof gardens are likely to feature more and more in major cities – 80% of Singapore residents voted for more roof gardens in the City’s future plans. The containers/planters on a roof garden may be designed for a variety of functions and vary greatly in depth to satisfy aesthetic and recreational purposes. These planters can hold a range of ornamental plants: anything from trees, shrubs, vines, or an assortment of flowers. Where aesthetics and recreation are the priority roof gardens may not provide the environmental and energy benefits of a green roof.

A 'green roof' made up of various succulent plants

A ‘green roof’ made up of various succulent plants

Balconies

Once again you need to be aware of how much weight your balcony can take, so seek structural engineer or architect advice if you’re unsure. Balconies can be used for both ornamental or food plants, but it’s worth thinking about your layout before you start. To maximise growing space,  suspend window boxes along the balcony edges, place soil-warming terracotta planters in the sunniest patches, and put lean-to shelves against the wall to accommodate extra pots. Here’s a video about setting up a balcony garden using permaculture principles.

Vertical Gardens

For those who live in small apartments with little space, ‘square foot gardening’, or (when even less space is available) vertical gardens or ‘living walls’ can be a solution. These use much less space than traditional gardening – square foot gardening is said to use 20% of the space of conventional rows and ten times more produce can be generated from vertical gardens. These also encourage environmentally responsible practices – eliminating tilling, reducing or eliminating pesticides, and weeding, and encouraging the recycling of wastes through composting. Some of the most familiar vertical gardens are called ‘living walls’ – a concept where low growing and small plants are placed into a matrix which is then fixed to a wall. Such designs can be immense in size, covering the entire sides of buildings. They are also increasingly being used inside building spaces, such as foyers and receptions, to create a contemporary and eco-friendly ambiance. There is a trend towards more living walls in people’s homes. This has led to many companies now providing products which create a vertical garden to liven up the side of a house or patio, and platforms of pots which can be planted with herbs and vegetables on a balcony. Some of my own articles feature the use of old pallets for vertical planters and these too can be considered as ‘living walls’ and are a useful addition to conventional ground level gardens as well as homes which lack much outside space.

There are clear advantages to vertical gardens:

  • creating growing space where normal ground level space is restricted

  • offering a green outlook to those who want to avoid views of concrete and bricks

  • creating spaces which are beneficial to both mental and physical health

  • making it easy to grow food plants such as herbs and salads

Sources and links:

Wikipedia – roof gardens

Wikipedia – green roofs

RHS- roof gardens and balconies

The Roof Gardens- Kensington

6 green roofs you can relate to

How to design a roof garden

Vertical gardens

A garden on your balcony

Balcony Garden and rooftop garden ideas

10 Inspiring Balcony Gardens

Green Roof and Green Wall ona Sydney high rise building – David Eugene

Other articles in the ‘Style Counsel’ series:

Foliage Gardens

Family Gardens

Productive Gardens

Japanese Gardens

Country Gardens

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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All about the leaves- Fatsia japonica

All about the leaves- Fatsia japonica

This latest  ‘snippet on style’  focuses on leaves. You might think that gardens designed around leaves would be boring. Not a bit of it. Foliage comes in all shapes, sizes and many colours (or shades of green). With the occasional splash of floral colour and other focal points thay can provide a  wonderfully soothing, and sometimes exotic air.  Foliage gardens are typified by the use of leaf and plant texture and shapes as well as subtle variations in leaf colour to provide interest, rather than floral display at different times of the year, which tends to drive other garden styles or at least their planting plans.

Sometimes the whole garden is about foliage, punctuated with flower or other colour (for example The Exotic Garden in Norwich – see link below). Sometimes specific areas in a larger garden are devoted to foliage, with the emphasis on contrasting varieties and plant forms. These gardens are typically organic in shape, with no hard edges and informal in layout and feel. They can also feature items such as sculpture or garden furniture made out of rustic materials and used as focal points set off against the foliage. Other key features of foliage gardens include:

  • Bold foliage

  • Colourful highlights

  • Pools and reflections

  • Containers

  • Locally sourced, rough materials

  • Height and structure

Links:

Other articles in the ‘Style Counsel’ series:

Family Gardens

Productive Gardens

Japanese Gardens

Country Gardens

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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family eating in the gardenYou might not think of ‘family gardens’ as a particular garden style, but there are some common ingredients needed for a successful space for everyone from the toddler through to parents (and possibly grandparents) as well as the family pet(s) of course! My latest ‘snippet on style’ focuses on what you might need in your family space.

Having said that there are some common ingredients in family gardens, in terms of its overall look these spaces can adopt almost any of the more common design styles such as formal, country, cottage etc., though the functional needs of the family garden do impose some limitations. The minimum requirements are usually to provide a flexible space for games (and scope for these games to change as children grow), room for entertainment and play, and an area for outside dining (maybe including an area for cooking the food too, such as a barbeque). The smallest gardens can accommodate a sandpit or swing, while larger plots have space for separate adult- and child-friendly zones. The key features often include:

  • Play equipment

  • Colourful materials

  • Dens and tents

  • Tough plants

  • Wildlife features

  • Easy care seating

For tips on including play opportunities in gardens see my earlier article ”Free range’ children? – seven tips for successful garden play’ and others on play.

Other articles in the ‘Style Counsel’ series:

Productive Gardens

Japanese Gardens

Country Gardens

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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The Kitchen Garden in Old School Garden- my attempt to create something productive and also pleasant to look at.

The Kitchen Garden in Old School Garden- my attempt to create something productive and also pleasant to look at.

This week’s ‘snippet on style’ looks at Productive Gardens- those where the emphasis is on growing food.

The layout of productive gardens tends to be orderly, with geometric beds separated by paths for ease of maintenance and access. Beds are often a maximum of 1.5 metres wide along two parallel sides to prevent the need for walking on the soil. Materials can vary but are often utilitarian rather than ornamental (unless the garden is intended as an ornamental kitchen garden or French ‘potager’). Concrete slabs, brick paths or even compacted earth are common  surfaces. Planting varies seasonally and may rotate to reduce the risks of pests and diseases and to avoid sapping the soil by growing the same crops each year. Other features of productive gardens include:

  • raised beds

  • wide paths

  • rustic obelisks

  • planting in rows or blocks

  • simple if any decoration and with a practical angle- e.g. ornamental bird scarers

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Here’s an example of a productive garden shared between two neighbours.Communal food growing also takes place at larger scales, for whole neighbourhoods in shared beds or in long established ‘allotments’ where each tenant gardens their own plot.

If you're a keen cook and you have the space, you may want to create a special herb garden like this- or if not just find a sunny spot for a few fragrant favourites!

If you’re a keen cook and you have the space, you may want to create a special herb garden like this – or if not just find a sunny spot for a few fragrant favourites!

Let me know what you think makes a Productive style garden, and if you have some pictures I’d love to see them!

Links/ further information:

Garden Organic

RHS Campaign for School Gardening

Food for Life- school gardening

Growing communities

Space for food growing- free guide

Vertical veg

RHS- grow your own food

Food growing case studies – pdf

Other posts in the series:

Japanese Gardens

Country Gardens

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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Maples (Acers) provide glorious autumn colour in this Japanese style garden

Maples (Acers) provide glorious autumn colour in this Japanese style garden

Today’s ‘snippet’ on different garden styles focuses on a very distinctive form, ‘Japanese Gardens’.

Japanese gardens have a balance which is achieved through the careful placing of objects and plants of various sizes, forms and textures. These are placed asymmetrically around the garden and are often used in contrast – rough and smooth, vertical and horizontal, hard and soft. These gardens often create miniature idealized landscapes, frequently in a highly abstract and stylised way. Pruning and garden layout are usually considered to be more important than the plants themselves which are used sparingly and with restricted use of both different species and colours.

Historically, there are four distinctive types of Japanese garden:

  1. Rock Gardens (karesansui) or Zen Gardens, which are meditation gardens where white sand replaces water

  2. Simple, rustic gardens (roji)  with tea houses where the Japanese Tea ceremony is conducted

  3. Promenade or Stroll Gardens (kaiyū-shiki-teien), where the visitor follows a path around the garden to see carefully composed landscapes

  4. Courtyard Gardens (tsubo-niwa)

Other key features of Japanese Gardens include:

  • Typical Japanese plants – e.g. Azalea, Camellia, Bamboo, Cherry (blossom), Chrysanthemum, Fatsia japonica, Irises, Japanese Quince and Plum, Maples, Lotus, Peony, Wisteria and moss, used as ground/stone cover

  • Water features and pools

  • Symbolic ornaments

  • Gravel and rocks

  • Bamboo fencing

  • Stepping stones

 

Bonsai- literally meaning ‘plantings in tray’ – is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower). Bonsai is not intended for food production, medicine, or for creating domestic or park-size gardens or landscapes, though some people display their bonsai specimens in garden settings, as this video shows.

Let me know what you think makes a Japanese style garden, and if you have some pictures I’d love to see them!

Further information:

Wikipedia – Japanese Gardens

Pictures of popular Japanese plants

Japanese plants

Japanese Garden Database

Japanese Garden history etc.

Wikipedia- Bonsai

Other posts in the series:

Country Gardens

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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In this latest article about different garden styles I turn my attention to Country Gardens, trying to capture their essence in a few words and images.

Country Gardens are usually fairly large (in some senses they can be seen as a larger version of the Cottage Garden). They tend to follow a pattern of straight-line formality or other clear geometrical shape near to the house, with increasing informality as you move further away, where the garden becomes more and more integrated with the surrounding countryside. Likewise, planting tends to be more formal near the house (possibly featuring topiarised shrubs), but becomes more naturalistic towards the edges. Other key features of Country Gardens are:

  • Luxuriant planting

  • Large pools and/or streams

  • Views into the surrounding landscape, sometimes ‘framed’ by boundaries or planting

  • Sweeping lawns

  • Hedging and other screens that might divide up the garden into different areas

  • Natural materials, especially as the garden moves away from the house

  • Garden structures, furniture or specimen plants that act as eye catchers/ focal points

Let me know what you think makes a Country style garden, and if you have some pictures I’d love to see them!

Other posts in the series:

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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This is the fourth in a series of ‘snippets’ that try to capture the essence of a particular garden style. today, ‘modernist’ gardens – I prefer this term to ‘contemporary’ as it is less laden with connotations of what is deemed to be ‘fashionable’ – so a more neutral term, hopefully!

Modernist gardens are crisp and clean. They rely on scale and proportion to provide a dramatic setting and there is simplicity and an absence of ornamentation or embellishment. They often have a strong geometric layout and are open and uncluttered. Sharp lines – whether straight, angled or curved – reinforce the contrast between verticals and horizontals, which are created by the use of structures (walls, pergolas, arbours, seating etc.) and planting (especially those with strong ‘architectural’ forms). Other key features include:

  • asymmetry

  • subtle but clear changes in level

  • modern materials (e.g. concrete, steel, glass, plastics)

  • planting in blocks

  • contemporary furniture

  • reflective water

Let me know what you think makes a Modernist style garden, and if you have some pictures I’d love to see them!

Sources and further information:

Jilly Welch article on modernism

Living-gardens.co.uk

Other posts in the series:

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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