Tag Archive: patio

Portland inspiration between the paving Ernst Fuller GardensBefore starting to lay foundations for a paved area, decide on the position of plants around a terrace or patio and in planting pockets within the space and leave the areas free of foundation material and paving (wooden shuttering can be used for larger areas). Once the works are over, replace the topsoil of the planting areas with John Innes number 3 compost (and grit if you’re putting in things like Thymes). This will ensure a weed free growing medium with the right nutrients so plants establish quickly.

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest 1999

Old School Gardener

Patio, Cordoba, Spain

Patio, Cordoba, Spain


We’ve been to Lisbon, Portugal quite a few times, but only on our most recent trip did we discover a beautful little restaurant/club/social centre/cultural hub close to the restaurant quarter- Casa do Alentejo.

While the outside of the former Palacio Alverca is unspectacular, its true beauty lies inside: moorish design including beautiful tiles and a huge patio. It was created 85 years ago, as a meeting place for people from Portugal’s historical province Alentejo (além Tejo means beyond the Tagus) and to cultivate its unique culture. At that time many people from this region left home in search for a better life in Lisbon.

The palace dates from the last quarter of the 17th C., but its current appearance is a result of considerable alterations carried out in 1918. Nowadays it’s the headquarters of the association of the Alentejo people. Many activities take place here: on Saturdays there are ‘Alentejo afternoons’ (tardes Alentejanas), with choral groups. On Sundays, dancing begins at 3;30 pm. Mostly elderly people come here to socialize. There’s also a library and a handicraft shop of typical products of the Alentejo region.

The dining rooms are picturesque, with open fireplaces and decorated with beautiful tiles (azulejos). The azulejo is a form of Portuguese painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tilework (Azulejo comes from the Arabic word az-zulayj, meaning polished stone).

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Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Somewhere in Argentina?

via Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Old School Gardener

I’ve been writing about my recent trip to Andalucia, and in my last post covered the day we spent in Granada and especially the palaces of the Generalife and Alhambra. One of the powerful impressions of this visit was how water can be used to enhance a particular feeling or ambience of a space, so I took a couple of short videos to demonstrate this. The first is from the Generalife and is of a series of fountains in a fairly narrow court or garden. The feeling I get is of an active space, one which you’re encouraged to move through, onwards to the palace…. would you agree?

The second sound is of the Patio of the Myrtles in the Alhambra’s Nasrid Palace; a  simpler, larger space where the barest burble of water adds to the restful atmosphere, and as I said in my previous post, the space is almost like an ‘outdoor cathedral’ in the way that sound is softened… enjoy…

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It was our second full day. We left home along mountain tracks and soon found our way onto one of the very good motorways here. I guess it took us a little over an hour to reach our destination for the day, Granada. Deborah and I had been here before, some 9 years ago, visiting our daughter who was studying at the University. I was excited about returning, especially to see the Alhambra, which was one of the experiences that turned me on to garden design.

We spent the morning and early afternoon walking the streets. Oh, and took a rather disappointing open-topped bus ride of the city, which we’d done before, but this time it seemed to be a stagger from one traffic light to the next, amidst heavy traffic and which, I guess, lacked the novelty of that first trip. Still, a nice coffee in the precincts of the cathedral and a wander around the moorish quarter, including a wonderful lunch in a restaurant overlooking the Alhambra, all made for a good start to the day.

The afternoon began with the ascent to the main entrance to the Alhambra, where pre booked tickets are essential as the place gets very busy and you need to have a time slot for the most famous bit, the Nasrid Palace. Ours was for late afternoon so we had a few hours to take in the Generalife (the adjacent palace) and the rest of the Alhambra before the real treat. I seem to remember we didn’t get much of a look around the Generalife 9 years before, so today we began there and it was well worth spending more time amongst its wonderful gardens. Here are a few pictures…

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We wove our way through crowds towards the Alhambra and made it up to the castellated viewpoint of the Alcazaba, just in time to get to our allotted spot at the nearby Nasrid Palace. This consists of a series of interlocking rooms, chambers and courtyards or patios. It was worth the preamble.

As you enter the Palace you plunge into a room of near darkness, only to emerge into the dazzling light of the outside space. I’d forgotten how simple, peaceful and mystical the Patio of the Myrtles was, with its sheet of water and simple structural planting. I sat and took in the scene, which was rather like an outdoor cathedral- you know, even though there are people around and making noise, the space seems to dissipate and soften that so that it forms a sort of background murmur, almost of reverence?

The slow trickle of water from a fountain added to the ambience, quite a contrast to the rushing of the arched fountains in the Generalife (I’ll post a couple of videos comparing them in the next day or two). Here are some pictures of the outer Alhambra and the Nasrid Palace…

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The moorish ornamentation of the rooms and external walls is breathtaking in its complexity, but there is an overall harmony. The light is used cleverly to provide alternating experiences of rich, internal splendour and simpler, but equally impressive outside spaces. The Patio of the Lions was altogether grander and more ornamental in style, the sort of space you can imagine political deals being concluded under the loggia, perhaps having spent time meditating on these in the previous patio? From there we gradually ‘came down’ through simple, lush outside spaces which are more expansive, but still attractive; blocks of colourful planting beginning to re-engage you with the outside world of colour and noise.

Well, I got my ‘fix’. Our drive home was a little more eventful than our outward one, as we had both darkness and rain to contend with. But we rolled safely into the Cortijo and managed a late night supper (I think it must have been 11pm before we ate) round the pool. A quieter day tomorrow, perhaps?

Further information: Granada- Wikipedia

Old School Gardener

Using pallets and other recycled materials to create useful garden equipment and features seems to have really taken off in the last year- at least the posts I’ve made to Old School Garden during that time are among my most popular.

My own exploits to date have been limited to a set of vertical planters, shortly to be used as mini raised beds for some young children at my local primary school. Following a bit of a reorganisation of outside stores here at the Old School, I have a redundant wooden bicycle rack which looks perfect as the base for a ‘plant theatre’ so I might get round to doing that as the days lengthen and (hopefully) the air warms up. In the meantime here’s the latest batch of ideas I’ve gleaned from Facebook sites like 1001 pallets, urban gardens, container gardening and the like. Enjoy!

First some sheds, shacks and greenhouses….


Next a few planters…..

And now some serious outdoor building work…..

Finally a few odds and ends…..

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My latest crop of ideas for creating useful and beautiful objects for the garden and outside (mostly from 1001 Pallets). Today a focus on chairs, benches, tables and associated ‘what nots’…

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PicPost: Fire Sculpture #2

Fire Pit image via Grow Veg

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My earlier articles about projects using pallets seem to have been a big hit – they’ve certainly had a lot of visitors. I’ve been working on my own project with local school children to create vertical planters and these are due to be finished off next week, so I’ll do a piece on that project and the lessons I’ve learned. I’m still collecting examples of novel recycled uses of old wooden things and so here are a few more pictures of some other interesting ideas. If you have any ideas or examples of your own, please send me some pictures!

This amazing shed is made out of old fruit trays. you can see that they're from the 'Royal Fruit Farm' at Sandringham, Norfolk! (For those who don't know, Sandringham is one of the grand residences of the Brtish Royal family - about 30 miles away from  Old School Garden and a lovely landscape with some beautiful trees.

This amazing shed is made out of old fruit trays. you can see that they’re from the ‘Royal Fruit Farm’ at Sandringham, Norfolk! (For those who don’t know, Sandringham is one of the grand residences of the British Royal family – about 30 miles away from Old School Garden and a lovely landscape with some beautiful trees)

pallet decking

Here’s a super example of the ways in which pallets can be reused and how they can be finished off to look like an up market product. These pallets have been taken apart, reassembled and sanded off to give a smooth surface. Laid like giant decking tiles they create a pleasing, practical terrace. Note that it uses quite thick planks, an important consideration if the floor is to bear body weight!

vertical planter adam haden

My previous articles on pallet projects can be seen here:

Pallet Power

Pallet Power- the sequel

Raised beds on the cheap

Old School Gardener

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