Our latest interview is with Kerry Mendez who has a passion for gardening, in her latest book “The right-sized Flower Garden” she discusses how to develop a garden that you can manage, often this will reduce the amount of work involved. As she explains it’s all about making the right choices, whilst at the same time making simple design changes. Here is a practical book with sensible tips, lists, time and energy saving suggestions that will help the beginner and the experienced.
Come take a listen, I’m sure you will learn something new.
We will have two parts to this interview with Kerry you can listen to the first part here….Growing Trends
We would love to hear from you with ideas or suggestions on programs, just send us an email to email@example.com
It's not often you find a garden that was founded in 1673, as the Apothecaries' Garden. Ann was on a trip to Europe recently and dropped in on the beautiful Chelsea Physic Garden on the side of the River Thames in London. The gardens purpose was to train apprentices in identifying plants. The gardens location close to the river created a warmer microclimate, significantly increasing the many non-native plants that could be grown.
In 1700 the garden had started an international botanic garden seed exchange system, which continues to this day.
The gardens cover some four acres and are leased on what is known as a peppercorn rent in perpetuity.
They are with out doubt one of London's secret 'gems' and thoroughly worth a visit.
The gardens mission " Linking people with plants and nature"
The interview starts with Ann talking for around 8 minutes to a group of school children on a field trip, the gardens have over 100 such visits a year. Ann then talks to Michael a very knowledgeable and extremely helpful member of staff. We kept all the typical inner city sounds on the recording – the enthusiasm of the children is very heartening.
Integrated pest management is the preferred method of bug control…
They have a project called "Shelf Life' it is just an incredible way to show children where their food comes from
What one item or feature would you add to your or your clients garden today?
When we started out with our then new company back in 1984 we identified designer drives, especially with ‘In & Out’ drives as the most important – sure enough within 6 months our order book stretched out into the following year, other firms descended on us for information and our advertising showed sporty cars sitting on interlocking concrete block and brick paving..Soon even the manufacturers were calling wanting to take pictures of our drives. Here we used stock brick paving. Although fairly soft, with somewhat irregular shapes, it kept it’s color very well
Here a much harder engineering quality natural brick is used to good effect.
The next was concrete block paving, these were very hard, initially with limited colors, and the color did fade quite quickly. They were also quite slippery in the ice.
As our order book enlarged we started offering more expensive solutions, such as granite setts – something the Romans introduced.
These drives were very hard wearing, color fast, strong and again a little slippery in ice. it wasn’t long before we included ‘Fish scale’ versions, these took quite a long time to set out, but looked absolutely amazing when completed.
Then these circular natural sett patterns became popular, with their sense of movement – just look at them long enough and they seem to ‘move’
What new trend, item or feature do you think will be the favorite for 2015? We will interview the top three on our radio show Growing Trends during the year.
As autumn and winter move in, with leaves changing into many hues of red and gold before falling to the ground.
The weather starts to turn chilly, the growing season is coming to an end or is it? Some plants will head towards dormancy, others being more frost resistant will provide the last gasps of color, before winter sets in.
For the luckier ones living in warmer climates, not so much changes
and for some others the climate has changed enough to wonder if it’s time to convert the ubiquitous lawns
into something more akin to a dessert landscape or perhaps a Mediterranean or Xeriscape landscape.
Now is a great time to start planning any changes as you can follow some simple guidelines.
First establish a budget, then look at the existing and consider what you might want to change and why. Write down a wish list of likes and dislikes, add if I could I would do this, etc,.
Now it’s time to decide if you want to do the work your self, find a contractor to start gathering information on materials and costs etc or engage a designer who can work with you to produce a plan and a program?
Each method has it’s pros and cons, and is often decided by available budget and or available time to allocate to the project.
My experience has been that most busy people are also quite successful and can therefore afford to engage a designer, they also tend to like to know what they are getting into before they start , so a design works great for them, they also like detail.
Practical people can often gain most from actually working on the project themselves, they tend to be natural problem solvers and enjoy the discovery of ‘how to achieve something’
The best advice I learned was to consider what you would like in say 5 years time, as this is often the time when any changes are going to look their best, it is also a time to consider where you may be in your own life cycle, for example age of children, type of free time available etc.
There is a “Growing Trend’ towards sustainability, and growing one’s own food, now is a great time to look at all the methods available and how much time should be allocated to such endeavours.
Many years ago, we often introduced new ideas and products into our designs on a fairly regular basis. Some were because we developed our own ideas, products and subsequently ‘different’ offerings, we then ‘sold’ them to our customers.
When we started offering irrigation systems, we had to find a way to sell them to our more affluent customers, without making the costs too high, but most importantly by not disrupting or destroying the landscapes we had put in only a few years earlier.
We achieved this by finding a rather interesting hydraulic mole from Germany that used compressed air, it worked really well at a depth of 900mm and was pumped a distance of around 5m , which when reversed pulled the water pipe back through the drilled hole. This simple tool saved huge amounts of time and reinstatement costs – more importantly it amazed our clients who were thrilled that we could install such sophisticated systems without a huge amount of disruption.
Next came low voltage lighting systems, which made landscape lighting safe and easy to instal, the picture below isn’t our work it’s a Park in Paris, but it serves it’s purpose quite well.
Today we seem to have slowed down on major changes or have we?
Commercially vertical walled gardens are becoming quite popular and are definitely a recent development.
Whilst in Gardens we have built for over 30 years eco friendly ‘Green Retaining Walls’ such as this one
Roof Gardens have been around for years, we were designing and building them back in the distant 1980’s
Home owners are developing a taste for their own food production.
Herb & Vegetable gardening is becoming very popular today.
I’m seeing a huge demand for food production, but currently the solutions are traditional cold frames, cloches or greenhouses, all very time consuming and with varying degrees of cost.
Today with all the concerns over GMO crops, with apparent excessive use of pesticides, more and more people are either buying from local organic farmers or starting out on the incredibly satisfying journey of producing their own fruit and vegetables.
We’ve been developing an easy to use kit that makes selection, planting and growing much easier and for a much longer time frame.
We call it ‘Hort Cuisine’ our way of saying it’s fun, friendly and offers tasty treats when you gather your crops.
The patented system enables almost limitless combinations of plants to be selected, enabling designs for any climate region.
Creating those beautiful ‘Knot’ gardens just became a simple process.
So here are a few questions……
What new ideas have you seen recently?
What would you like to see developed?
In the last 5 years what is the best landscape invention you’ve seen?
What would your customers like to add to their garden landscape?
Drop us a line with your replies we will have a follow up blog shortly.
Looking back over a good few years, it seems to me that only a few things have changed.
Mostly the changes are in office equipment,our office wasn’t particularly fast to adapt to CAD or computerised pricing, ( which as I recall we started in earnest around 1990) we didn’t produce thousands of drawings, although with three full time designers we might have been able to complete our standard detail book quicker.
What we did have, which was invaluable, was a huge collection of standard minute values for thousands of manual site operations, gathered by a group of work study techs who followed us for years.
These values are still useful today, as I’ve found a ‘rate’ for a job is no where near what the job costs with overhead & profits or is worth in every situation.
Oddly, when you take a real look, it seems not too many on- site tools have changed very much over the years, the hammer remains the same,the pick, the saw, the rake, as does the garden fork, the trowel, the cement mixer, the plate compactor – all are virtually the same as they were years ago.
The one exception being perhaps the Dingo or it’s derivative…
This picture is a classic example, this car park in Kent was being resurfaced in 1978, the equipment although not lazer guided isn’t far removed from today’s.
Engines, drive trains, hydraulics, not that many really new tools, and a few altered methods, such as rotary grass cutting, self sealing sand, geotextile fabrics, and the use of plastics have all appeared – Some , I wonder for how long?
Is it time for a revolution in equipment ? if so, I wonder what will appear ? or has the demise of manufacturing reduced us to just accepting products that are derived from abroad ? Do you have a wish or an idea?
I suspect the humble wheel will take some beating over the next generation.
As a Landscape Design & Build professional, I’ve visited literally thousands of homes over the years, talked to the owners, sold them on design & build, managed the project , with a fantastic team who helped us win a large number awards.
As a Landscape Contractor, I’ve read, priced, won & lost , then programmed, then managed thousands of projects designed by other companies or individuals, with the team still winning a large number of awards in the process.
There have always been the same few common traits.
An agreed Design was produced, with an agreed priced Bill of Quantities.
The Designer kept in touch with the project until completion. – you can see him just in this picture below.
The Foreman, was in charge of the site ( our man on the site) stayed on the site with his team,until the project was completed.
We paid particular attention to detail, keeping the sites clean & tidy.
The client made stage payments to an agreed schedule.
We avoided extras, unless they were essential.
We under promised & over supplied. – the weather was almost always the one item we were unable to control.
We sent our aftercare folks in to show the client how to keep his newly paid for project in good order – irrespective of if we had an aftercare contract. ( Finished photographs are great for the portfolio and are easier to take if the site looks great, plus we treated every job as a potential award winner. !)
We were rarely the cheapest price available, we & the client knew this, we did have a professionally staffed office, we employed our own designers, landscape architects, contracts managers, and building staff who were all fully equipped, with all the necessary tools and machines.
We avoided heavy machinery in gardens preferring to use tracked equipment that didn’t compact the ground too heavily, we hardly ever used ‘Bobcat’s’ , but always used min-360 excavators, and tracked carriers.
The mini-tractor being the exception as it was so useful, perhaps with the advent of the dingo that’s not the case anymore ?
When we installed irrigation we preferred to use hydraulic powered horizontal augers which left almost no mess.
This system was really effective, it used an air compressor, but was able to pull the pipe back through the hole just formed, it worked great with Toro 300 series heads for example.
We preferred to work with natural materials ( like bricks, timber, natural paving cut to rectangles) to artificial ( concrete, concrete blocks, plastic, etc.,)
We always kept the conversations semi formal whilst the job progressed, not becoming too familiar was a huge benefit at times. Once the project was finished we relaxed our formal approach.
It wasn’t possible to not have misunderstandings on occasions, however we documented everything, and on the very rare moments when clients became agitated we gently showed what had been agreed and how we could adapt this to their new wishes – we always remembered that this was our job, we were the experts, but it was their project!
We often acted as Designer, Surveyor, Builder and Quality Controller for the Client, who often had scant knowledge of construction issues, so we tended to be much more, should I say tolerant in these situations.
If we were dealing with fellow professionals, then we played hard ball with the best of them !
Ann & I have started a radio show where we interview Clients, Designers, Creators, Maintainers, and the experts that help them, you can listen to a show here or even download for later – Growing Trends
If you would like to be considered for a show, do drop us a line and tell us why, we are now heard or read in 43 countries !
I’ve been really surprised at all the positive comments the site has been generating from everyone – Thank you all so much, it’s fun to write, improves my awful spelling, maybe my grammar as well ?
You can let me know on that one !
Some of you asked if I would make it possible to donate on this site, I’ve tried to avoid that, as well as adverts as I was trying to be impartial, with the content.
As you may know we do have a fun internet radio show, where we interview folks from around the globe about their Gardens & Landscapes.
When we started this radio show the aim was to find interesting people who had a passion for their Garden or Landscapes. Little did we know what would happen. In just a few months we have an audience stretching across the globe in 43 countries.
We soon added a web site www.grotrends.com to provide details of schedules, information on guests and sponsors, and a growing information area with details of techniques, ideas and examples of projects.
The show Growing Trendsconcentrates on the clients, the designers, the creators, the maintainers and the experts that help them, we would welcome any suggestions on who we should contact – the schedule is filling quickly, which brings me on to how you can help.
We have two one hour shows a day seven days a week, with a little funding help we can update the interviews more often, and tell the story of you, or your friends work, or your garden or landscape.
Can you help us in just a small way ? Contributing just $5 ?
Here’s the link to StartSomeGood the crowdfunding source we are using for this fund raising campaign
Growing Trends is fun, friendly, informative, interesting, amusing & entertaining.
This one acre pond has a water change almost once per hour !
A final interesting project from just outside New York. This fully structural gravity wall is almost 27ft high !
Note the access is less than 4ft !
We really would appreciate your support, so we can interview maybe you, or your colleagues or friends, across the globe – thank you all for your support & comments.