Green Garden DesignGreen Garden Design
Sustainable landscape architecture, garden design and planting musings from award winning garden designer Alice Bowe
RECYCLED CUPS MAKE GORGEOUS GARDEN GIFTS
Can you believe this cute sundial is made from vending machine coffee cups?This innovative new material has a lovely solid, heavy, earthy feel, very much like slate - and looks great in the gardenProduced as a direct result of the UK Save-A-Cup scheme... buy one vended cup of coffee today, drink the coffee, place the plastic cup in the recycling bin... The recycling loop has been closed.This lovely clock is also available. A gorgeous garden gift idea!
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Garden Design Trends 2008
Many of the key garden design trends from a recent SGD survey pointed towards sustainability in the garden:Vegetables are what every garden owner wants this year. A fruit and veg area is specified in almost every commission as growing-your-own moves from optional extra to essential. Even the most formal design has a space for vegetables, with such ornamental edibles as beans, globe artichokes, chard and fennel taking their place alongside this year?s other ?must haves? - boldly coloured and strongly scented roses, herbs, hydrangeas, lilacs, flowers grown for cutting and alliums. Herbs remain perennial favourites and more people are now also growing fruit - especially espalier varietiesWildlife friendly gardens are important ? as long as they attract the ?right? wildlife: Squirrels, deer, foxes, mice, moles and an awful lot of insects, including the dreaded Rosemary beetle fall into the ?pest? category of wildlife. ?Frogs, toads, newts, worms and most birds are on the ?ticked? list,?...
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GROW YOUR OWN GREENHOUSE
I came across the brilliant 'Grow your own' Greenhouse at the 2008 RCA Design Products graduation show...The Greenhouse is a complete, hassle free and self-sufficient growing system for small city gardens and roof terraces.As the designer Jochem Faudet explains:'Food is one of our most basic needs, but in western society the knowledge of growing fruit and vegetables in your own garden is no longer a part of everyday live. There are many reasons why people do not grow their own vegetables, often due to a shortage of time, lack of space and the effort needed to learn the skills to grow your own food not being seen as worthwhile. On the other hand there are so many advantages to growing your own vegetables, a delicious and intense taste compared to supermarket vegetables, the enjoyment of watching your own plants growing, the money it saves, and the reassuring knowledge of self-sufficiency.'The fantastic thing about this 'This Grow Your Own' is that although it is comparable wi...
A HISTORY LESSON IN THE ANTI-LAWN TRADITION
The anti-lawn movement has been around now for several decades. A great article in the New Yorker tells the History of lawns and the rise of the anti-lawn tradition in the USA - with a few suggestions for further reading
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GREEN TAX DISPUTE
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are campaigning to have VAT reduced on plants.They argue that government proposals to reduce the VAT on 'green goods' (such as energy efficient light bulbs, wind turbines and solar panels) should also apply to plants and seeds.Under exisiting rules, anyone who buys plants from a nursery or shop pays VAT at the full rate of 17.5%. The RHS argue that cutting the VAT on plants to 5% would boost plant sales, therefore absorbing more CO2.Find out more on the RHS website
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BEAT THE CREDIT CRUNCH - GROW YOUR OWN PRODUCE
The rising cost of living is encouraging scores of people to start growing their own produce.Gardeners are shunning the supermarkets in order to grow their own.Recent figures from the Horticultural trades association show a 31% increase in the sales of vegetable seed to householders, and a corresponding 32% decline in the sale of flower seeds. We are also buying nearly twice as many seedlings and young edible plants like tomatoes and marrows, and are growing far more herbs than ever before.The Royal Horticultural Society and seed companies back this up, saying that vegetable seeds sales are now outstripping flower seeds for the first time since the second world war!Suttons, which sells nearly a third of all household vegetable seeds in the UK, said this week that there had been a massive increase in vegetable growing in Britain. "We are seeing a big move away from flower seeds to vegetables. There has been a dramatic rise in things like sales of onions and potatoes. Spuds in particu...
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LOTTERY GRANTS HELP COMMUNITIES GROW AND SOURCE LOCAL PRODUCE
Under the Big Lottery Fund's 'Changing Spaces' programme, which backs projects aimed at improving the quality of life for communities, two organisations have been given £50m each to act as award partners - and are now inviting grant applications.The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts plans to transform the food sector by helping projects that encourage locally grown produce. It will offer a portion of the money through its Local Feed programme, which opened for applications in March. It will consider project such as allotments, box schemes and food growing initiatives ranging from £2,000 to £5,000 and remains open until 2014Groundwork UK will fund groups, via Community spaces, who want to create or regenerate local spaces through parks, village greens, community spaces and wildlife areas. It will consider applications from £10,000 to £49,000. Stipulations are that applications must be from community groups for sites that are open to the public most of the time.In Scotland a sep...
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RIDING THE STORM - PLANTING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
Alice's article about planting for climate change has been published in this months Garden Design Journal. Read more about bimodal plants that can ride the storm.With changing weather patterns, designers may need to consider a palette of plants that are able to cope with more than one extreme.The capricious weather we have been enduring over the last few years has highlighted the need for a new approach to our planting choices. In the past we could identify gardens as 'boggy' or 'dry' with some ease, and then plant them accordingly, but things are becoming less and less predictable. Weather extremes of flood and drought can both occur in the same garden within a short period: often without warning. If we can no longer rely on the accepted weather cycles of previous years, we must take action to adapt our planting designs to cope with the unpredictable impact our volatile weather may have on growing conditions.In recent years we have all become experts in drought tolerant planti...
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GREEN MANURES - WHAT SHOULD I GROW?
We all know that compost is garden gold - but it can be hard to produce enough of the stuff for the demands of a garden and allotment - and it can be very pricey to buy in bulkA cheap and sustainable way to improve your garden soil is by growing a green manure. Several plants can be grown as green manures: Try fenugreek, field lupins, broad beans or clover for a spring or summer planting. These will grow to usefully smother weeds that might otherwise threaten to engulf the bed - as well as adding nutrients to the soil.For an autumn planting, try rye or Mustard.Broadcast sow directly into an empty flowerbed. Once it has grown to form a lush, carpeting green crop (and before it flowers!) it should be dug directly into the soil, improving its organic content and the soil structure. Decaying green manures can suppress plant growth so allow at least two weeks between incorporation and plant...
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ALICE FEATURED IN GARDENS ILLUSTRATED DESIGNER SHOWCASE
SHOWCASEGardens Illustrated, March 2008 Alice Bowe BASED: Birmingham and Nottingham STUDIED: Fine Art Degree, Ruskin School (University of Oxford); postgraduate diploma, Oxford College of Garden Design. ''Alice Bowe revels in bold dramatic planting. 'I always double the border width and halve my plant list,' she says. 'Some of the most sexy schemes only use three plants'.
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ALTERNATIVE GARDEN LAWNS - MOSS
Many people spend a lot of their spare time fighting to remove moss from their garden lawns - but actually if you think about it, moss is a great alternative to a traditional lawn, especially for shady gardens.In fact mosses tend to thrive in areas where traditional lawns suffer. They love compacted soil. As nonvascular plants they do not possess true roots and they get their nutrients and moisture from the air by capilliary movement. Moss es also seem to prefer poor quality soil with low nutrient levels - they really are wonderful plants.Before you head straight off to buy some moss, one word of caution: mosses love acid soil, so this is one of the rare occasions when it is actually worth testing the acidity of your garden. A ph of 5.0 to 6.0 is idealMoss forms dense, low growing mats in the garden. I can see why they are so revered in Japanese gardening - and think it's time we caught on to their potential...The best moss to use as a lawn alternative in shady areas is Fern ...
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ENVIRONMENT AGENCY PUSH FOR UNIVERSAL WATER METERING
According to Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency "Evidence shows that metering, cuts water consumption by at least ten per cent."The Environment Agency was commenting on the government's Water Strategy for England publication, which highlighted the need for new houses to be fitted with water efficient appliances. These could include things like water butts attached to down pipes in order to collect rainwater.Barbara Young, chief executive of the EA, said that, although pleased the government recognised the need for compulsory metering where water was scarce, she wanted to see a "far greater level of urgency put on introducing it"."The government has set a timescale which looks to introduce universal metering in water stressed areas before 2030... this is not remotely early enough," she said.Other ways of saving water include using a watering can instead of a hosepipe where possible and mulching your garden regularly to reduce evaporation.
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ALTERNATIVE GARDEN LAWNS - CLOVER
A popular replacement for traditional lawn turf is Clover - and I can see why...LOW MAINTENANCEDoes not need to be mowed as often as traditional lawns which cuts down on labour and lawnmower emissions making it a cheaper, greener alternative.NO FERTILISERSClover is a fixes nitrogen so it grows well even in poor soil and doesn't require fertilisation which makes it a sustainable option as well as a less expensive option.COLOURClover has long roots enabling it to access water at deeper levels. This makes it drought tolerant and so it stays green even in the driest summers. Clover also tolerates dog urine without bleaching yellow.INEXPENSIVENo need to spend money aerating, irrigating and fertilising your lawn!Clover tolerates compacted soil better than lawn grass does.In addition, clover produces beautiful little flowers - and you can feel smug in the knowledge that you are improving biodiversity in the garden.Although clover lawns do not stand up to heavy traffic as well as tradit...
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DROUGHT TOLERANT AUSTRALIAN PLANTS - LILLY PILLY
One of the drought tolerant Australian plants I am currently trying out in my garden as an alternative to traditional topiary is the Lilly Pilly.The lilly pilly is one of the most popular plants in Australian gardening, particularly for topiary and hedging. Lilly pilly is the common name for a range of separate genera of what are basically evergreen rainforest plants with glossy green leaves.Once lilly pillies were all known as eugenias. In recent years botanists have divided them into several genera, including Acmena, Syzygium and Waterhousea. They are very adaptable because they can take it dry or wet for long periods at a time but they do like it best where there is some good summer rainfall and deep soil.They supposedly don?t tolerate frosts, but according to Di Johnson of the Garden Vineyard, they are undamaged by the mild frosts she recieves. I'll let you know how they fare here in the Midlands UK.The most commonly available form here in the UK is Syzygium australe which h...
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DROUGHT TOLERANT PLANTING - LEARNING FROM THE AUSTRALIANS
Monty Don's new Sunday night BBC programme 'Around the Garden in 80 Days' was focussed on the gardens of Australasia last week.What I found most interesting about the show was Di Johnson's Garden Vineyard (on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne) and the way that she was clipping and topiarising drought tolerant Australian natives into columns and domes - much as we do here with box and yew.Finding hardy drought and flood tolerant alternatives to our favourite garden plants is going to be more and more important as we continue to garden in the changing climate.Although Taxus (Yew) is pretty drought tolerant, it is famously averse to waterlogged soil and flooding which can easily kill off even established specimens.Buxus (Box) can cope with moist to dry conditions but will not survive a drought and the sheared leaves can scorch in hot weather. Add to this potential problems with box blight and there is going to be a real gap in the garden designers planting palette if an alt...
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A COLOURFUL BORDER NEED NOT BUST THE BANK IF YOU START FROM SEED
Making a garden can be very expensive. People often embark on a makeover after moving house, when money is tight, or they splurge on landscaping and then realise they donâ€™t have enough left over for plants, but it is surprising how frugal you can be if you plan ahead and are prepared to spend time raising your own plants. The easy answer is to sow a wildflower mix evenly across the entire bed. A more challenging solution, and the one I am going to talk you through here, is to sow a composition that produces flowers in the first year but includes a balance of perennial and annual plants so that your garden will become less labour intensive every year.For my plot Iâ€™m using a 5m by 2.5m patch of ground, with good sun and drainage, but the plan can be adapted easily if you have more space. The plot has a fence at the back of it and forms part of a larger garden, and the plants I have chosen are fairly well behaved. The planting is free-flowering and painterly. VALUE FOR MONEY When ...
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ALTERNATIVE GARDEN LAWNS - CHAMOMILE LAWN
Chamomile lawns actually pre-date lawns of neatly clipped fine grasses and have a long tradition in English gardens. The most famous chamomile lawn is the one at Buckingham Palace which dates from the reign of George V although they were also very popular with the Elizabethans.Camomile is a low-growing aromatic herb which is tough enough to be walked on an looks very much like a grass lawn.Providing you use the low growing flowering variety â€˜Trenagueâ€™ your lawn will never need mowing and it releases a sweet fragrance when walked on (especially strong fragrance after rain).Another advantage of a Camomile lawn over a grass lawn is that it does not turn brown in dry weather!
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ALTERNATIVE GARDEN LAWNS
Large, expansive lawns can be beautiful if they are well maintained but the cost to the environment can be high.Fuel for power mowers, fertilisers and pesticides but most importantly water consumption make traditional lawns the resource squanderers of the gardening world.Reducing the size of your lawn can benefit the environment - and it gives you loads of extra room for plants!Various groundcover alternatives to grass are being trialed at the moment which we will analyse over the next few monthsIf you use alternatives to traditional rye grass lawns in your garden, we would love to hear from you...
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RECYCLE YOUR VEGETABLES - SUSTAINABLE GARDEN TIP
Did you know that you can recycle vegetables?For once, I'm not talking about compost. Many vegetable trimmings (e.g. bottom part of spring onions, chives etc) can be planted directly into the soil and will regrow!Also, if you plant the bottom inch or two of the celery base into water, it will grow too.Genius...
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VERTICAL GARDENS OFFERS A SUSTAINABLE GARDEN DESIGN SOLUTION
No more excuses that your garden is too small to grow your own veg...Vertical growing is one of the hot new sustainable garden ideas that is on everyones mind at the moment and one which could easy scale up for commercial growing.Take a look at this great new system for growing lettuce - you could easily adapt this idea for your own small garden courtyard or balcony and get to enjoy fresh salad, herbs tomatoes - even veg!Vertical growing systems have been proposed as possible solutions for increasing urban food supplies while decreasing the ecological impact of farming. The primary advantage of vertical growing is the high density production it allows using a much reduced physical footprint and fewer resources relative to conventional agriculture.Valcent Products have introduced a great new high density vertical growth (HDVG) system for growing vegetables.The HDVG technology provides a solution to rapidly increasing food costs caused by transportation/fuel costs spiraling upwards w...
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USING WATER WISELY - GREY WATER RECYCLING AND RAINWATER HARVESTING
Rainfall is becoming less predictable in our changing climate and so an important part of sustainable garden design relates to the way we manage of rainwater.Hosepipe bans have become a common occurrence in the UK and can last for well over six months in times of drought - whilst flash floods continue to terrorise the nation.When it rains, water from buildings and hard surfaces is directed through downpipes, drains and gullies into the drainage system. Some downpipes from the roofs of domestic properties are directed into a soak-away and so return to the water table naturally. However, in urban areas the water is taken away into drainage systems.The current water management system makes our bills more expensive - with the need for constant repairs and new drainage systems to cope with peak rainfall. It also causes groundwater levels drop as the water doesn?t return to the water table, and so we all suffer from water shortages.The average house roof apparently sheds 45,000 litres ...
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FLOOD TOLERANT PLANTING - GARDENING IN A CHANGING CLIMATE
Garden designers are increasingly using flood tolerant plants in their planting designs as the risk of flash floods increases.In recent years, damage to homes from flooding has becoming a major concern. Whilst plans are in place to improve flood defenses and protect our homes, little thought is given to the affect of excessive rainfall and flooding on gardens.Gardening in our changing climate means that we cannot rely on the accepted weather cycles of previous years. Whereas we could in the past identify gardens as 'boggy' or 'dry' with some ease, things are becoming less predicatable. Weather extremes of flood and drought can both occur in the same garden within a short period - and we need to adapt our planting style to cope with both!We need to think about the changing climate when designing a planting scheme for new garden designs. Below is a list of some plants that can tolerate temporary pooling of rainwater as well as dry periods:Betula nigra - river birchLiquidambar styr...
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GREEN ROOFS - THE BASICS...
Thinking about creating a green roof but don't know where to start?The Green Roof Pocket Guide from Sheffield University is the perfect introduction. Published by The Green Roof Centre this is a handy guide to the basics of green roofs. The Guide covers many of the common issues, from a fundamental description of different types of green roof to component makeup and planting options.
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SEA SHELL GRAVEL?
Fed up with the gravel from your paths escaping onto the lawn and damaging your mower blades? Why not try using crushed seashells instead. These shells will simply break when a lawnmower accidentally runs over them - as well as being a more sustainable option than gravel or peashingle.Cockle shell and seashell aggregates are totally organic, and are made from re-cycled waste from the British Shell fish Industry.They have many uses in Landscape and garden design but are most commonly used as a gravel replacement for paths and driveways.Crushed seashells can also be used very effectively as a mulch for planting beds or to top dress plant pots and containers containers. They have excellent water retention properties and even act as a natural snail repellent!UK suppliers:DM Taylor and Company
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THE GREEN BUILDING BIBLE
A true bible for anyone embarking on a green and sustainable building, the Green Building Bible is apparently the most popular book on green building in the UK today - and for once gardens have not been left out!You can order your copy from The Green Building Press - and sign up for their great newsletter whilst you are at it...
NEW ORGANIC GARDEN MULCH
Gardeners and Garden Designers alike all seem to be obsessed by mulch. It is common practice to protect and enrich the soil with Organ ic mulch (such as leaf mould and compost) but when you are planning a large scale garden project it can be hard to source large enough quantities for the job at hand.Strulch is a garden mulch made from wheat straw for organic gardening that is set to revolutionise the way environmentally conscious gardeners garden!Available in the UK from The Organic Gardening Catalogue at £6.99 per 100ml bag (will cover 3 sqm) or in quantity from Garden Boutique for £169.95 for 25 x the larger 150ml bags (will cover 112 sqm)A patented process is used to ?preserve? the straw so that it lasts for up to two years and gives an earthy brown colour. It has been demonstrated to reduce weed growth by 95%, retain moisture around the plants and to enrich the soil and its structure - but most importantly of all, it is PH neutralInhibits weed germination and growth ...
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WINDBREAKS AND SHELTERBELTS
Shelterbelts protect your home from the chilling effect of wind so you may need less energy to heat your home and you?ll be able to grow a greater variety of plants.As a garden designer pondering the effects of gardening in a changing climate, you may be suprised to learn that I fear wind more than drought. Strong winds are unpredictable and often appear without warning causing real - and often irreversable damage to plants.You can't keep the wind out of your garden entirely - there is no magic solution - but you can slow it down with windbreaks and shelterbelts as well as trapping warm pockets of air through the introduction of Foundation Planting and Climbers.If you live in an exposed area, check for the direction of the coldest winds and build your shelter belt across that direction. Don't make the common mistake of installing a solid barrier as these will increase the problem by creating eddies on both sides of the fence or barrier. Instead, choose a structure that is at l...
HOW YOUR GARDEN CAN HELP YOU CUT DOWN ON HEATING BILLS!
Plants can play a useful insulating effect - conserving heat in the winter. Not only will you save money on your heatings bills but you will also be able to sleep more soundly, safe in the knowledge that you are doing your bit for the environment!Climbing plants can act as an extra layer of insulation to a building as they trap a thin film of air between the plant and the house. An even better solution is the implementation of a Living Wall. These are held away from a building by a support system of wires. Not only does this increase the pocket of air (and hence the insulating effect) but it also prevents potential damage to the fabric of the building that can be caused by some clinging plants such as IvyClose to the base of the house, Foundation Planting traps warm pockets of dead air between the house and the planting. Where the shrubs are mature, there should ideally be a 30cm gap between the plants and the building.Green Roofs also play a useful role in the insulating a bui...
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FOR ALL YOU LAZY GARDENERS OUT THERE - WET POT
Allow your products to take care of themselves with these great self watering pots.The WET POT uses capillary action to ensure your plant receives all the water it requires. Clay naturally regulates water absorption - and so the plant can draw all the water it requires THROUGH the pot. To use, simply down the clay pot in water for a day before planting up with the plant of your choice. Ensure the top of the plant is level with the brim of the pot and that soil is packed tight around the plant. Then all you need to do is pour water through the watering hole until the glass cylinder is 1 inch below the rim - and relaxAs long as water remains in the outer glass cylinder, your plant will be able to draw on these water reserves without becoming oversaturated! Clever huh?
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