Wednesday, June 20, 2007


In May I went to Granada for 5 days and finally got to see the Alhambra. It lived up to all my high expectations and we were lucky to go on a Thursday and avoid the huge crowds which was great.
Most of the decorative work was just the same as you see in Morocco- amazing tiles, plaster work and mouchrabieh screens. In classic Islamic style there is an abundant use of water in the forms of still, rectalinear pools, gurgling rills and scalloped edged, marble bowls.
Within the walls of L'Alhambra the planting is minimal, mosty just tree planting for shade, wheras at the adjacent Generalife, there is more emphasis on plants. Hedging, roses, pergolas, wisteria and orange trees. Here the pebble mosaics change pattern constantly, and are a dominant feature of the gardens.
L'Alhambra overlooks Granada, and there are amazing views over the city. Also from the outside it makes an impressive feature in the landscape.
It was all just so inspirational. Not just the design, but the complexity of craftsmanship, which is just so intricate....I do not think it could be easily replicated today.
I highly recommend a visit to this amazing place.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Objects in the Garden

I like the idea of using unconventional planters in my friends garden. She collects various architectural salvage, and I think that these objects could be used in a fun way in the garden. I certainly don't want it to be twee, and the image of the planted wheelbarrow is certainly bordering on this. I prefer the idea of lots of abandoned bathtubs, or boats that look like they were stranded in a totally alien setting. Ivies growing with abandon will add to the 'secret garden' feel that I want to create.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Still here.........

Well this whole working full time thing really doesn't allow for blogging let alone designing gardens for friends in my spare time! I do however always have it in mind and sometimes come across ideas for it in the course of my job. For example I sometimes spend entire days looking for precedent images for my work, and more often than not find inspiration whilst doing it. So rather than try and remember what all these things are (as I look at hundreds of images) I have created a folder on my computer to keep them, and thought I would start to post some here. The last image is of the garden that David and Fern did in Biche. This lovely image popped upon Flickr during my research, and I think it looks fantastic.

Friday, October 20, 2006


There are many themes going on Lewis Carols most famous work. I don't plan to be too literal with them, as this is a concept, not something to conform to. Still, as inspiration goes, it doesn't get much more colourful, fun or mad than this. I just want to list some of the themes, that could be used.
  • Giant and tiny- Alice experiences both, before returning to her normal size.
  • The Queen of Hearts,
  • Chess and croquet.
  • Cards, namely 2,5&7 (painting roses)
  • Tiger Lily, Rose and Daisy (talking of course)
  • Tea party
  • Games, riddles and nonsense.
  • Plays on words eg Flower/flour
The story of Alice is a journey, so there should be a journey and a number of unexpected experiences through this garden.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Moon Gates

In my spare time(!) I am slowly designing my friends garden. It is a really fun project, as the inspiration is Alice in Wonderland. Her garden is already quite overgrown and magical, but there is a lot of untapped space, that could be much improved. One idea that she definitely wants is a Moon Gate. Conceptually it is the 'looking glass' that you walk through into Wonderland. Traditionally Moon Gates are in Chinese gardens, and there is also a history of them in the Carribean. I think the Chinese ones are the most beautiful as they frame what is beyond like a painting. I want to create a 'hide and reveal' effect in the garden.....what you see through the moon gate before you enter, is not actually what you get when you step inside.
I have been looking at precedent images, as I am looking for the most inexpensive way to build one. Obviously the dry stone and rendered walls look fantastic, but they are not a viable option moneywise. I think something in timber could be quite interesting, or maybe even some type of gabion structure. It could even be an unattractive structure that is covered in Ivy.
Other ideas for the garden include a claw foot bath as a water feature/pond, mass planting of perennials, and brightly colored bulbs. Plinths set amongst meadow planting, where she can display architectural salvage objects she collects. I am going to track the design process here, so as to keep track of my ideas.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Yes you are right. This is not Wales! I am yet to have my photos developed, and so will be doing my Wales blog as promised, at a later point.
This years theme at Chaumont was 'Playing in the Garden' I was unable to go, but found a fantastic website that has really good photos of the gardens. It also has photos of many previous festivals. Here is the link select Jerome Galland and then Archives.

It seems there were many successful ideas and concepts. I especially like the bamboo structure and the red and white chessboard (a reference to Alice in Wonderland) Next years festival has the theme 'Mobile. For a World in Motion' If you want to know more or maybe even enter, then there is info on this link

Just looking at the images has inspired me to do some conceptual gardens for fun. I hate to say it but I am missing the sketch design challenges Jamie gave us last year. Is anyone else? I propose looking randomly in the dictionary, choosing a word and designing a garden. It will be just like old times!

Have to add, that I would not swap places with the people starting their final year for all the tea in China!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Back to Work (and blogging)

Well finally I have found some time to get back on the blog. It has certainly been a while and I have missed it. Three weeks into my new job I went to the States for 2 weeks, for a friends wedding/holiday. It was fantastic, but unfortunately(?) we were in the deep south and in terms of landscape architecture and garden design the inspiration was zero....hence no photos posted of trip (instead a jpeg of a new take on toile fabric, by a funky Glaswegian company called timorous beasties)
The Americans must have invented the word SPRAWL, and I couldn't quite get over the lack of sensitivity when it came to the commercial buildings. Many of the residential homes, especially the traditional southern ones, with their verandahs and swings- were beautiful. The retail areas on the other hand were nothing short of horrific. One second you are in the beautiful Smokey Mountains- the next driving down a strip of neon, crazy golfs and tacky buildings.And don't get me started on the Wal-Marts (I've seen smaller airports)

anyway.....back to garden speak

I have ordered two Piet Ouldoulf books from Amazon this week and I am looking forward to getting them. My garden has been very neglected this past few months so tomorrow weather permitting I am going to get stuck in.

Next blog I will be posting photos from Wales, as the landscape there was very inspiring.