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    Possibly the smallest design for a garden in London. Ever!

    Katrina was called to Stoke Newington property to come up with a courtyard design for a garden in London. Measuring just 2m x 5m, it is possibly the smallest garden Katrina has ever worked on!

    The garden brief

    Possibly the smallest garden in London?

    This property is located on the edge of a very green, unusually private space in an urban area London. The main living area of the property is on the first floor, which includes a small atrium space measuring 1.5 m x 1.5 m. The main outdoor area is downstairs and also has limited space. It is also overshadowed by the high boundary wall and the upstairs balcony which overhangs half of the space. The client would like the design to include an area for seating and storage, and some greenery if possible.

    Small courtyard design for a garden in London.

    Multi functional space

    This design seeks to make maximum use of the limited space available in the garden.

    Focal point

    Self contained water feature creates a focal point

    Self contained water feature creates a focal point

    The floor will be paved with large rectangular porcelain paving slabs and will feature a central panel of decorative mosaic tiling. This tiled motif will continue up the boundary wall to create a stunning focal point from the door leading to the interior of the property. A self-contained Moroccan style water feature installed on the mosaic wall panel will imbue the space with the gentle sound of running water.

    Storage solutions

    Surfboard storage

    Surfboard storage

    To the right hand side of the courtyard will be a bespoke hardwood timber storage unit with a living roof trough planter filled with ferns on top. To the left of this area will be a built-in storage unit large enough to accommodate the client’s surfboards and other equipment. The front of this storage unit will be faced with coloured Perspex sheets to create a clean, contemporary look.

    Multi purpose seating

    A bench, that stores and becomes a bed. Genius

    This design for a garden in London needs to have several states. The left side of the space will feature a bespoke hardwood timber bench/day bed with under storage and a bespoke coffee table featuring an industrial-style metal frame (height adjustable with a crank handle) and timber top.

     

    Inspirations include Balenciaga, Morocco and Tetris

    Inspirations include Balenciaga, Morocco and Tetris

    Neat storage solutions and decorative tiles are the order of the day

    Neat storage solutions and decorative tiles are the order of the day

    Scale plan showing how the multi-purpose furniture will work

    Scale plan showing how the multi-purpose furniture will work

    Storage solutions, multi purpose seating and Moroccan decor - we pack it all in!

    Storage solutions, multi purpose seating and Moroccan decor – we pack it all in!

    Simply ferns and ivy in this hugely shaded garden

    Simply ferns and ivy in this hugely shaded garden

    If you are looking for a design for a garden in London and would like some of Katrina’s creative pizazz, then please do get in touch.

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  • Dark-backdrops-add-drama-and-make-the-planting-pop.jpg

    How to transform my garden from drab to fab! 10 quick fix weekend solutions

    How can I transform my garden? A garden can be as depressing as it is pleasurable. Without maintenance it can soon look tired and past its best. However with a bit of thought and planning it can be given a new lease of life without spending vast amounts of time and money. Read on for our 10 top tips to give your garden a boost.

    Keep it clean

    It seems simple, but giving your patio or decking a thorough clean can give an instant lift to your garden. If you really want to go to town, consider re-treating your decking. For hardwood, use a decking oil and for softwood consider a coloured stain. In both cases, if it is badly weathered sand it first to give give a sound, bare surface. For paving use a pressure washer to clean off as much inground dirt and algae as you can. If it is badly soiled you may need to use a heavy duty stone cleaner, such as Lithofin Algex or Intensive Cleaner. Once cleaned you can keep it looking good for longer by sealing the surface. The type of sealant you use will depend on your paving type, so be sure to do a little research online before purchasing. Whatever sealant you choose to transform my garden, make sure the paving (and weather forcast) is completely dry before applying and be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

    Remove broken slabs

    If the odd slab is damaged or impossible to get clean, try removing it (and any sub-base) and replace with soil. You can then install ground cover plants to create an attractive feature in your pastio. Good plants for this are:

    • Camomile
    • Creeping thyme
    • Sedums

    Alternatively you could replace the odd slab with gravel/pebbles or add a vintage feel with reclaimed Victorian tile. Remove slabs around the border of the patio to break up any straight lines and allow the planting to encroach a little. It will feel make it feel less formal and give the plants more room to spread out and show their true potential.

    Consider adding old tiles or pebbles for interest

    Consider adding old tiles or pebbles for interest


    Scale it Up

    Adding a huge planter can really transform your garden. It draws the eye and adds drama to any space. Trees can be planted in big containers. Give it a go. You will be amazed at the results.

    Scaling it up with oversized planters adds excitement

    Scaling it up with oversized planters adds excitement


    Add structure

    If you can include a structure, do. It might be an archway, a pergola or arbour. Whatever you choose it will become a focal point, adding height and definition. It automatically suggests where to walk, look or rest. It will also help you focus your creativity on one area of the garden if dealing with whole space seems daunting.

    Add structure to define a pathway or area

    Add structure to define a pathway or area


    Around the edge

    Treat your boundaries to an overhaul. If they look tired, they will detract from whatever else you do to the garden. Consider cladding them with a decorative material such as Perspex, metal, or laser cut screens to make the space more exciting. Or paint in a dark, neutral colour (dark grey always works well) to make the planting stand out and add a dose of designer elegance.

    Clad part of a boundary with a different material

    Clad part of a boundary with a different material


    Texturise

    Add contrasting textures will creates instant interest. Mix up surfaces – rough with smooth, shiny and matt, soft and hard. Plant grasses amongst existing shrubs. Install a decorative chain curtain to an existing pergola. Simple but effective.

    Add contrast. Shiny and matt.

    Add contrast. Shiny and matt.


    Accessorise away

    Dress your space. If you have a garden chair or bench, add cushions and a throw. Light the garden with storm lanterns or groups of jam jars and tea lights. Bring vase ofDress your space. There are some fabulous outdoor rugs on the market at the moment. Consider investing in one to give a simple injection of colour or pattern to transform your space.

    Add an outdoor rug for a high impact accessory

    Add an outdoor rug for a high impact accessory


    Review your planting

    Take a good look at your plants and decide whether they are a good asset for your garden. If they are overgrown or ragged looking, see if you can prune, feed and generally bring them back to former glory. If not, then they may need to be replaced. Plants can be expensive though, so go for a few good quality specimens to pep up a tired bed rather than a load of cheap bedding from your local DIY store. Make sure you concentrate on leaf shape, colour and texture.


    Screening

    It is my number 1 tip for most gardens. Screens add personality, texture, and can alter the shape and the journey through the space. They will also do you a massive favour if you need to hide or disguise things. Used well, screens are a designer’s secret weapon.

    Use screens to change the shape of the space

    Use screens to change the shape of the space

     

    Colour it in

    Colour is transformative. Paint your fences in dark hues to make planting pop and give it a glamourous trendy look. Paint tired furniture to revive it and give it a new lease of life. Use colour wisely and it will pay in spades. Don’t be tempted to go for bright colours on sheds and fences unless they need to be attention grabbing. Go for darks and neutrals to make the space seem bigger and let the plants and features take centre stage.

    Dark backdrops add drama and make the planting pop

    Dark backdrops add drama and make the planting pop

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  • photo-01-09-2017-09-44-49.jpg

    Stillness and hubbub, London Landscapes and garden design inspiration through the ‘Sounds of the City exhibition.

    Katrina Kieffer-Wells, explores London Landscapes. She is Earth Designs senior designer, and is always on the lookout for fresh inspiration for her garden designs. Recently she went to check out the ‘Sounds of the City’ exhibition at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. It was surprisingly interesting.

    The sound of Kew Gardens. Kate Morgan

    The sound of Kew Gardens. Kate Morgan


    The Big Idea

    The premise was simple and absorbing, comprising a showcase of images representing the many common noises that punctuate city life. It was primarily but not exclusively London based. This was a purely visual experience – the space was silent and devoid of any soundtrack.

    Oranges and Lemons. Sounds of London Landscapes - George McAusland

    Oranges and Lemons. Sounds of London Landscapes – George McAusland


    Types of Noise

    The artists explored a wide and indiscriminate range of sounds: quick and slow, noisy and quiet, lyrics, languages, mechanical, organic, the mundaneand the unexpected. They sought out sounds in tower blocks and urban gardens. Everything that could make a sound was a potential subject, including wildlife, traffic, commuters, the noise on the streets, in the bars, on the rivers. Some of the artists chose to focus on one particular theme or sound, while others took a more wide ranging approach.

    Tuning onto the London scene via the tube network Sarah Perkins


    London Landscapes

    It really got me thinking about how you can interpret and use or controlnoises in the garden. Naturally if you live near a main road, you could use plants as a buffer to the traffic. Often the biggest use of noise in the garden will be water and how that works. If it’s fast flowing water, what would that that look like as a picture? Other influences of sound on garden designs design might include the sound of birdsong, of children playing, or the wind rustling in the trees. Sound is probably the most underused all of
    the senses in garden design. We usually consider what the garden looks like first, and then, depending on what we plant, may consider scent, touch and texture as well. But I rarely consider sound unless it is to deploy a feature to solve a problem.

    As a garden designer it is important to recognise all of the senses and to try and ensure that you have fed them in one way or another to your designs.

    Katrina is always on the lookout for garden design inspiration. If you have a Garden needs some creative solutions, please get in touch. To see more London Landscapes and Soundscapes please visit ‘Sounds of the City’ on our Facebook page.

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  • A-sketch-for-a-garden-design-in-Wanstead

    Red phone Sketch #2: Japanese inspired garden design in Wanstead

    I went to give some advice on garden design in Wanstead. The clients were looking to renovate the garden after focusing on the interior of the space. And the extension to the property had left the first area of the garden in a bit of a mess. Privacy from the neighbours on both sides was an issue, and they wanted to explore some options. Ultimately they were looking to have an office space at the bottom of the garden, and this needed to be factored in to the final garden design in Wansted.

    A sketch for a garden design in Wanstead

    A sketch for a garden design in Wanstead

     

    Patio for entertaining

    We explored the idea of having a large patio stretching across the entire width of the garden. Incorporated into this would be a small retaining wall to deal with a level change. A bubbling water feature will create a soothing ambience directly next to the main seating area. Structured planting would give a strong framework to the space. Architecturally interesting chairs would be used to complement an integrated bench seat. This efficient use of space works perfectly with a modern Japanese garden style. I suggested concrete porcelain effect tiles would be great here to give a modern, slightly industrial appearance,

    Garden path

    A pathway runs down the left hand side of the garden. I suggested a non-slip polished finish such as granite. It will provide depth and reflection to the space. Placing it on the left hand side of the garden works with the overall aspect.

    Japanese-style planting

    One of the key factors of any Japanese garden is its planting and this garden design in Wansted was no exception. I proposed that we focus on a very simple pallette of green and occassional white blooms. Strong shapes and a repeat motif would come from a clipped box hedge set at intervals parallel to house and fence. Leaf shape and texture are of paramount importance and add the authentic Japanese vibe. I suggested we include the following:

    • Acer
    • Hostas
    • Ferns
    • Buxus
    • Silver birch

     

    Privacy in the garden was also an issue as it was overlooked by the garden at the rear. Evergreen trees with the only way to guarantee privacy at such a height. There were some existing trees, however the client was keen to have them removed.

    Garden Lounge out

    The back of the garden caught the late afternoon sun. The client was keen to open up this area for use, as it currently housed the garden shed. Outdoor seating in the form of sofas would be great for this area, and it can be made large enough to accommodate any combination. Situated next to the proposed garden office, it can be packed with personality, they can mix up the furnishing and accessories to create the perfect zen space.

    Garden Feature

    Rather than using screens I wanted to propose a feature for this garden design in Wanstead that echoed the impressive architecture on the back of the house. Tons of inspiration to draw from, but the long thing shape of the windows lends itself nicely to tall columns. Placed in a line and partially obscuring the view of the office they will layer up the space giving it depth and drama.

    Vegetable Garden

    The space is blessed with a very wide side return and indulgent for a garden design in Wanstead. A bit of a suntrap, it has veg garden written all over it. It can’t been seen from the house so won’t let them down if its not looking its best. I have suggested adding a raised railway sleeper planting arrangement and incorporating a seat to cosy it up, where the client can take a well earned rest from their gardening chores.

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  • Photo 18-09-2017, 17 25 26

    Ideas hunting and trend seeking, our garden designer ventures into the world of interiors.

    Katrina, our Creative Director and senior garden designer, has a busy week ahead attending various trade shows, looking for interesting new ideas, materials and suppliers. Monday kicked things off with a virgin visit to Decorex International 2017 at Syon House. Part of the London Design Festival, it showcases the finest in interiors, from fabrics to furniture, lighting to lino. It is the go to place for anyone in the design industry. Although she was a bit late to the party, she found much to inspire her…

    Eyecatching

    The queue of ‘designers’ at Richmond station couldn’t go unnoticed. There was a certain flock (and I don’t mean wallpaper) mentality to their numbers. As a garden designer I felt a bit of a fraud. I love a good cushion, but I’ve never bought them for clients. There was a fabulous carousel of creations at the entrance to the event, showcasing different aspects of the show. Larry Walshe filled the space with sumptious blooms, while the Matthew Williamson ‘Osbourne and Little’ collection had a fresh ‘retro’ vibe.

     

    Larry Walshe filled his space with sumptuous blooms

    Larry Walshe filled his space with sumptuous blooms


    Top design

    One of the main things that struck me was the luxurious quality of the companies and products on display. There was no ‘stack it high, sell ’em cheap’ ethos that you sometimes find at other trade shows and exhibitons. Here there was an abundance of high end products, beautifully crafted and cleverly presented. Every manufacturer had ‘upped their game’, delivering everything from elegant tables to ethically sourced lighting to handcrafted rugs. There wasn’t a whiff of naff in site. Although some things were not to my taste, they were undeniably good quality. There was also enough unusual and unique offerings to keep me interested throughout the day. The wonderful pieces from Alma de Luce left me feeling energised and falling in love with modern design all over again, such as a retro chair which reminded me of mid-centuary scandinavian designers such as Eames. The pattern was lifted from that of mexican pottery, and it had a real story behind it. It was a thing of beauty.

    Fabulous chair based on patterns in Mexican pottery

    Fabulous chair based on patterns in Mexican pottery


    Textiles a go go

    I’m a sucker for a pretty print. Usually the more colourful and bonkers the better. I’m a definite House of Hackney fan, and anything in a similar vein always catches my eye. Bobo1325 caught my eye. Decadent and luxurious, harking back to the deeply patterned wall coverings of the Victorian era but with a modern twist. Blackpop was another crowd pleaser, with wonderfully attractive wallpapers that revel in a deliciously distressed look. Newton Paisley is also bang on buck. Crafted by a conservation biologist, they tell the story of neglected and endangered animals. They are a delight to look at, and have an ethical heart – each sale supports the work of the World Land Trust.

     

    The wonderful patterns of Boho1325.

    The wonderful patterns of Boho1325.

     

    Reclaim Nation

    I love a bit of re-purposing. I often try to include some reclamation, upcycling or recycling in my garden designs, and when it works, it really works. There was a lot here that ticked that box. I fell in love with a stunning copper bath tub, and drooled over a haberdashery cabinet from 1924. The handcrafted lights from Vitro Lighting were very clever, creating stylish and elegant chandelier and pendant-style lights from old cut-glass tableware – I spotted a sundae dish, a champagne flute and a trifle bowl amongst the offerings.

    Reclaimed glassware transformed into chandeliers


    For the garden

    As a garden designer I was on the scout for anything exciting I could include in my work. Our wonderful friends Gaze Burvill were there, as well as Distinctive Gardens, whose pots could be just the thing as a focal point for our upcoming Balham garden build. But it was Fenella Elms that really caught my eye, with wonderfully textured panels and flowing structures formed from cast concrete that would be ideal for a future project. However with a £2300 price tag, I need to wait for the right client!

    Wonderful cast concrete panels for Fenella Elms

    Wonderful cast concrete panels for Fenella Elms

    Follow Katrina our garden designer on the rest of her trend hunting on our blog. To see more off the products from Decorex please visit our Facebook page or Instagram feed.

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  • gazebo and pergola

    South London garden designer required for gorgeous Georgian townhouse steeped in history

    Allison was looking for a South London garden designer. She has lived at the property for a few years and has fully renovated the interior. She is a keen gardener and regularly spends many hours in the garden enjoying the space.

    Gorgeous house looking for a south London garden designer

    Gorgeous house looking for a south London garden designer


    The brief

    The brief for the new design is to take inspiration from Victorian landscaping to tie in with the period of the property. There are various pieces of architectural salvage in the garden which should ideally be reused in the new design. If possible the client would like to retain a large area of lawn, and to renovate the existing Anderson shelter. Some of the trees are to be removed. An extension to the back of the house is planned, which should be accommodated in the new design.

    sketch of ideas for this garden in Balham

    sketch of ideas for this garden in Balham


    Old and new

    The design seeks to mix old with new. Directly adjoining the proposed extension will be a terrace area on the same level as the lower level of the interior of the property. This will be accessed via the double doors on the landing ground floor as well as the stairs leading from the first floor.

    A mixture of tradition and modern materials work through this space

    A mixture of tradition and modern materials work through this space


    Reclaimed yorkstone paving

    The terrace will be paved with imported reclaimed York stone slabs and retained from the upper garden by a dark grey rendered wall with York stone coping. The paving will feature a rectangular decorative inlay of reclaimed slate installed in line with the patio doors of the extension.

    A mixture of old reclaimed yorkstone combined with setts.

    A mixture of old reclaimed yorkstone combined with setts.


    Lower terrace

    A flush bed in the right hand corner of the area will feature a series of three boxed pleached trees to add further framing and height to the space. To the left hand side of the space will be a decked bench seat and a table constructed from the client’s existing reclaimed slate slab. Steps installed in the retaining wall to the left and centre of the space will allow access to the garden above. In the centre of this inlay will be a Cor-Ten steel water bowl to create a focal point when viewing the terrace from inside the property.

    Lower Terrace features a Corten steel water bowl to add reflection to the space

    Lower Terrace features a Corten steel water bowl to add reflection to the space


    Pathways and lawn

    The main garden will feature a large central lawn with a pathway constructed from self-binding aggregate running down the left had side and across the width of the garden at both ends of the lawn. Both lawn and pathway will be edged with York stone sets, with rectangular areas of sett paving to either side of the lawn and path which will accommodate the client’s the existing bow hammock on one side and a new timber bench (or single seat and planter if preferred) on the other.

    Pathways are edged in yorkstone setts making mowing easier

    Pathways are edged in yorkstone setts making mowing easier


    At the bottom of the garden

    The bottom section of the garden is split into several sections. To the right of is a section of oak decking under a chunky oak pergola adorned with decorative Cor-Ten steel screens and a swing seat. To the left of this pergola, placed on a section of York stone paving within a flush planting bed, will be a Cor-Ten steel fire bowl feature. A self-binding aggregate path, retained by Cor-Ten steel edging, will lead up the centre of the garden to a cross-roads at the centre of which will be a bespoke gazebo constructed from reclaimed stone pillars and iron dome roof with York stone sett paving beneath. To the right, behind the oak pergola, will be a utility/play area comprising the existing greenhouse, compost bins and trampoline. To the left of the space the existing Anderson shelter will be excavated and dry stone walls constructed to retain the difference in soil levels in the area.

    A pergola to house a swing, and a peek into the bottom of the garden

    A pergola to house a swing, and a peek into the bottom of the garden


    Planting

    Planting in the space will be soft and blousy. Many of the beds in the main section of the space will be edged with box hedging, with colour block planting of herbaceous perennials and evergreen shrubs filling the beds behind. Cut-out planting beds in the lawn will feature the client’s existing timber pyramid obelisks within which a selection of climbing roses, clematis and honeysuckle will be planted. Additional trees, chosen for leaf colour and shape, will be included in the area at the bottom of the garden to create a small arboretum type space.

    Plants include:

    • Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhart’
    • Hydrangea arbourescens ‘Incrediball’
    • Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Lordhill Gold’
    • Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’
    • Penstemon ‘Burgandy’
    • Angelica archangelica

    If you would like to speak to Earth Designs about having a revamp in your outdoor space do please get in touch.

    Corten Steel, Reclaimed yorkstone and cottage planting are the vibe

    Corten Steel, Reclaimed yorkstone and cottage planting are the vibe

    Scale plan. South London Garden revamp

    Scale plan. South London Garden revamp

    Traditional garden layout with a modern twist

    Traditional garden layout with a modern twist

    Planting is a mixture of evergreen, trees and cottage style planting

    Planting is a mixture of evergreen, trees and cottage style planting

    If you are looking for a South London garden designer do please get in touch and arrange a time for Katrina to come and transform your space.

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  • ansar3
Small urban contemporary town garden girls children kids playing on decked patio terrace scooter
Design: Katrina Kieffer-Wells, Earth Designs
London
Marcus Harpur

    How to create a family garden that appeals to grown ups

    A family garden is a tricky balance. On the one hand you want it offer as much as possible for your offspring. Yet, on the other it needs to be somewhere that provide adults with the entertaining, sociable and stylish space that they require.

    No matter how “high-end” you make the space, as soon as you put a yellow plastic slide in the mix it will scream for attention. Here we show you how to make adult space that has appeal to the younger members of the family as well.

     

    A modern family garden for everyone

     

    Keep an area clear

    Children have a habit of growing up. A young toddler will be happy on a tricycle, whereas an older child will be prefer to move about on a scooter. By keeping the area clear, you are increasing your options. You can erect a sandpit, paddling pool, den or even a bouncy castle into the space and then take it down and stored away without it impacting on your view. Artificial lawn is a great solution for this idea. It will save the grass turning yellow in the summer when the paddling pool is up. It also provides a mud free option.

    Supersize something

    The moment you start to play with scale things get exciting. It can create an Alice in Wonderland-esque type scenario. Try and super-size something, or bring it into the foreground. It could be a tree in a plant pot, or a giant seat. Play around with scale and it will make an exciting space for children and adults alike.

    Make tracks

    Kids like to follow lines. Think how quick they are to walk along a wall. Juxtapose one hard landscaping material with another and you instantly create a Grand Prix racing track for scooters, toy cars or tricycles,as well as an attractive surface for tables and chairs. In this family garden we used a different colour paving to wind its way through the decking and contrasting paving.

    Adding texture

    As soon you add texture to space it creates depth. Layer things up, pick different textures to create something interesting and dramatic. Here we used stainless steel mesh, combined with Perspex, grasses and flowers.

    Playful elements

    It may sound strange recommending adding water to a family garden, but think how much fun can be got from the sprinkler in the summer. If you add a water feature that has an enclosed reservoir, it’s basically like leaving the tap running in the garden. Totally safe. In this garden we used a stainless steel water blade as a very bold feature for the adults to enjoy from right inside the house, however, when the children wish to play in the garden, it was a ready-made play feature.

    Hide it away

    If you feel you can’t live without that all-important trampoline, or indeed a play structure, try and hide it away. They are such big items that they will instantly draw your the attention. It will be what you looking at from any of the elevations of the back of the house. Use garden screens, planting or as we did in this case simply build a very solid wall. Just give over section of the garden to the children if you need to, and leave the rest of the family garden space that everybody can enjoy.

    Brighten it up

    Colour can be transformative in the space. Consider using it liberally in your hard landscaping. Add bright planters, or in this case Perspex, to tie in with the accent colour in the open plan family room at the back of the house. You could always use blackboard paint to cover your shed door. Paint the back of the house. It actually looks great as an aethetic treatment for the space but will double up as a extra dimension for younger members of the family.

    If you would like to book in a garden design consultation with our Creative Director please contact us.

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  • Garden-Design-Billericay.jpg

    Red Phone Sketch #1: Billericay Garden Design

    The aim of this Billericay garden design was to deliver a wide open space for family use however retaining areas that were suitable for socialising, relaxing, or entertaining. The family had a preference for modern styling and were looking for something simple yet sensational in the space. They wanted it to be something that the whole family could enjoy and that would grow with them over the next few years.

    Garden Design Billericay

    Garden Design Billericay

    Outside seating area

    Directly outside of the main patio doors of the house, a L shaped raised bed is propsed. This will provide a knockout backdrop for a garden sofa. Obviously there are many types of modular sofa on the market, and whatever the choice it will give an inviting feel to the space. Accent colours can be added with scatter cushions or throws. Layering up your space with texture will create depth. The rendered wall can be painted a colour and changed at a later date. It will provide a year round pop of colour.

    Herb garden

    I think it is essential in Family garden design to maybe provide an area where a small amount of ‘grow your own’ can happen. In this Billericay garden design we use a Corten steel tank alongside the patio to provide a raised planter for a variety of herbs. Furthermore it offers not only a planting area, but also helps to create division, thereby “zoning” the space and protecting plants from any stray footballs that might be headed that way. Herbs to consider planting are

    • Rosemary
    • Baytree
    • Oregano
    • Thyme
    • Fennel (great foliage)
    • Chives

    I almost always include trailing strawberries and some rhubarb as they are perinneal low maintenance fruits. They offer great appeal to children.

    Garden dining area

    Here we have proposed a railway sleeper table and bench. A large oak beam spans the space and instantly provides drama. It also provides opportunity for a climbing plant as well as fairy lights to be in twined across the top creating a magical atmosphere. This oversized structure will create a use of proportion in the space and will be majestic. The climbing plant will soften it, and provide a seasonal edge.

    Garden pergola

    Towards the rear of the space, in front of the existing summerhouse which will be given a revamp, area of decking is proposed. This multi use space, will be covered with a cross between oak, allowing for children’s play equipment to be suspended from it. This can develop as the children get older. In the summer months, she could also be slung over the top create a den like space that can grow and change as the children get older.

    Lawn

    Love it or loathe it lawn is pretty much a staple in any family garden design. Ultimately it is great to have a large expense amount of space for all games. It immediately gives you space for running around, and spreading out makes it very hard to consider anything else. To keep it neat, butt it up to hard landscaping, or edge it with setts or a lawn edging. It does require maintenance, and to keep it looking good you will need to look after it. Feed it, mow it and weed it. Or consider getting artificial lawn.

    Garden privacy

    The client has a real issue with some very large conifers running along the bottom of the garden. They are very dominant in space, and although they were doing a fabulous job of blocking out the house behind, they were also very intimidating. We suggested removing them and replacing them with pleached trees. There are a variety of species on the market, both evergreen and deciduous. The time of year that you plant them can have a bearing on the schedule, so do your research and speak to the specialist grower to find out which suits your plot the best

    This billericay garden design went through to the build stage. The clients were delighted with this initial idea and went on to commission a garden design package. Please check our Facebook page to watch its progress. If you would like a Garden design consultation, please get in touch.

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  • Photo 24-08-2017, 20 45 36

    Seeking out unusual places to visit in East London. A winged kitten to Kylie Minogue poo

    I love nothing more than visiting unusual places to visit in East London places to gather in design ideas. And there was none more so than this truly absurd venue I spent a couple of hours in the last week in Hackney. Everything from the winged kitten to Kylie Minogue’s poo. The home of Viktor Wynd, a self proclaimed dandy, artist and impresario of The Last Tuesday Society. He is a connoisseur of the macabre. This is not just a collection of natural history, of cult, erotica, exotic skeletons, shrunken heads and unicorns. It is a celebration of the strange and the wonderful

    Not that unusual from the outside

    Unusual East London facade

    This museum cum bar has been on my must do list for several years. We used to live in Walthamstow and drove past this intriguing spot many times and vowed to visit – I never made it while I was in London. I had a couple of hours to kill last week and managed to park directly on Mare Street. The outside is reminiscent of the shop fronts of yesteryear, but is not particularly eye-catching.

    Kitten with wings

    A winged kitten.

    However the moment you step inside this unusual East London venue, you realise this is no ordinary bar. Painted in a deep 70s inspired gloss, the space is dimly lit and adorned across the ceiling with what at first glance appear to be 20 or more examples of Victorian taxidermy and skeletons. However, you quickly realise that the creatures on display are a bit unusual – a white kitten with feathered wings, a human skull on what appears to be a seal’s skeleton, a crocodile with arms. All is not what it seems.

    Into the basement

    The upstairs gives you a flavour of what’s to come. The museum itself is in the basement. Accessed by a spiral staircase, the first cabinet you encounter comprises a plastic statue of Ronald Macdonald, a viper and stoat in battle, and a framed ghostly shroud. A mannequin greets you at the foot of the stairs. Looks quite normal apart from the enlarged breasts. A huge series of glass display cabinets fill the basement. Each is stuffed with the most absurd collection of objects, through which Wynd tries to “Shine a light on the unloved to show its beauty.” These are not just inanimate objects – he believes every object has its own story.

    Flies go to see the Beatles

    Flies go to see the Beatles

    Viktor Wynd gives attention to the grotesque. The space is reminiscent of the ‘Cabinets of Curiousity’ of the 17th century where the fashion began for encyclopaedic collections of objects whose categorical boundaries had yet to be defined. The taboo nature of the items makes it interesting. It’s a collection of things that no one else would collect. Small vignettes appear throughout the space, which wizz into life at the push of a button. The scenes are comic and bizarre, such as a crowd of flies and wasps at a Beatles concert.

    Gold plated Hippos

    A huge cabinet contains a gold plated skull of a hippopotamus, believed to have been owned by the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who imported many exotic animals into Columbia, including elephants, giraffes and hippos. This Hippo (one of 4) was destined for the zoo on his ranch, but died in transit. Paolo Escobar had its bones goldplated. The hippos continue to thrive in Columbia and the cartel leader’s ranch is now a theme park, complete with hotels and zoo.

     

    Shadow sillouettes by a fly display team

    In one corner, there is a area that appeals to me like a snug in a Victorian pub. A macabre skeletal chandelier hangs from the ceiling, and a series of bottles, antlers and horns as well as the wood burner complete the space. Mannequin heads of Hitler are casually placed in the top cabinet, while a further vignette of a fly police display team to entertain their colleagues with shadow impressions lightens the mood. Many of the books laid out for display are very much “of the day”. As stand alone items they are very amusing.

    Russell Brand’s pubes

    Another case full of natural history wonderment, a giant crab, shrunken heads and wierd birds. People send Wynd items. One box is purported to contain Russell Brand’s pubic hair cubes. There are cases upon cases of butterflies, bolts, insects and spiders filling the walls. Towards the end of the basement is a large table with a coffin as a centrepiece at the back of which is an eerily lit skeleton over what I think is a gorilla locked behind bars. On the ceiling, a mummified Merman looks down on the whole scene.

     

    Total unusual East London Find.

    This whole place is truly unique. It has a real feeling of a bygone age. It reminds me of something you would find in Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter stories, with the kookyness of a set from the BBC series Sherlock. Everywhere you turn there is something to make you smile or to freak you out. There is a whole cabinet full of celebrity poo, including some from Kylie Minogue and Amy Winehouse. Just when you think you’re back in the Museum of yesteryear that you visited as a child, the traditional board of pinned moths to the board, a copy of an Enid Blyton story or a toy gremlin will pop out and make you smile.

     

    You can see more of the photographs from this unusual East London day out at our Pinterest album “The Last Tuesday Society – Museum of Curiosities” or in our Facebook album -‘Musuem of Curiosities. The Last Tuesday Society‘.

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  • balenciaga

    A wardrobe full of garden design ideas!

    A wardrobe full of garden design ideas is packed into this breathtaking exhibition.

    It’s the only way to describe the momunmental influence Balenciaga had on fashion, and to some extent the wide field of design. I know that I would certainly look to his work when looking for garden design ideas. A true mastercraftsman his creations are utter works of art. Adept at pattern cutting and a pioneer in his field the Balenciaga:Shaping Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum blew me away.

    Described as ‘the master of shape’ he had a reputation as a couturier of uncompromising standards. He created a distinct style which endures today. The exhibition examines this legacy ‘with over 100 pieces crafted by ‘the master of couture’ his protegees and contemporary fashion designers working in the same tradition’. It goes on ‘famed for his exquisite craftmanship and innovative designs, Spanish couturier Cristobel Balenciaga was known as ‘The Master’ of haute couture. An inspiration to those who follow in his footsteps, his work continues to shape fashion today.

    Balenciaga drew upon his native homeland as well the Spanish Renaissance when in 1937 he had his first runway show. His success was immediate and he went on to have trademark styles such as the bubble skirt, square coat, ballon jacket and sack dress. His manupulation of the waist is what is considered to be ‘his most important contribution to the world of fashion, a new silhouette for women’

    He became an innovator in fabrics using heavy, bold fabrics alongside intricate embroidery. His garments were considered works of art and his influences far reaching.

    I’ve thought about the idea of genius, to define an existing artform, or to reinvent it. What a legacy, and one most ‘creatives’ surely are striving for across all the artforms, both mainstream and avant garde. For Balenciaga the design process started with the fabric rather than with a sketch, ‘its the fabric that decides’ he stated, proving that he knew how to exploit materials to the very best effect.

    This exhibition will form the basis for a series of urban garden design sketches which attempt to break down materials, to challenge shape and simplicity. Taking a series of Balenciaga creations, dissecting them and transposing them into a garden design for an urban space.

    To see more of the exhibition photos please visit the Balenciaga album

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