sauvage 3

Prevarication – that’s the problem or is it an excuse? Or plain laziness? Anyway time to acknowledge a garden that was, but is now gone. A little explanation:  ‘The Savage Garden’ designed by 4 students from University of Greenwich landscape architecture/garden design course was selected to form part of the 2015 International Festival of Gardens at Chaumont on the Loire. The design was edited by Jamie Liversedge – senior tutor – with just a little help from me and built by students and Jamie + myself. Here he is talking about the garden . . .

chaumont opening-pana2 copy

. . . and the image above shows the site last April just before the opening of the festival – all other images show the garden in September just before the closure. The theme was ‘collections’ and the selection jury including Maestro Patrick Blanc defined the collection to be plant based. Le Jardin Sauvage  – tropical, a jungle, somewhere to get lost in, a refuge, where wildlife inhabit the overhead canopies, where Le Douanier Rousseau would have felt entirely at home – was a challenge not necessarily to build but to plant. The plants required time to envelop the site even though we selected some large specimens but over the time span of the festival, the growth of the planting was successful. The expectation was achieved. An angled route over crushed broken tile lead through lush foliage highlighted with brilliant flower colour across a bridge and under rusty steel arches – red was important in the colour palette from early on in the design stage. A few images . . .

sauvage 2

detail planting

detail mina lobata

. . . Mina lobata clambers over the steel reinforcing bar arch structure with a dark tender pennisetum covering the ground.

detail structure

detail canna

Cannas, hedychiums and begonias eventually came to the party. It looked good and the festival staff and visitors appreciated the concept and the finished result.

detail dicksonia

Another garden that caught my eye (really the best in the festival, for me) Le Jardin du Teinturier – a dyer’s esate probably in Marrakech – where the utilities of plants and the pigments extruded from berries, stems and roots were shown in a cinematically installation. It was perfection – well ordered, inspiring and beautifully designed . . .

le jardin du tein 1

le jardin du tein 2

le jardin du tein 3

. . . striking berries of Arbutus.

le jardin du tein arbutus

The gardens were eclectic in character under the umbrella of a given concept – always thought provoking and surprising.  ‘Réflexion d’un Collectionneur’ – a garden based on nature in a garden around a museum or gallery where the visitor views without knowing what lies beyond. Enticing – paintings or mirrored panels show the world behind the viewer. Is it a secret garden or a museum collection? Whatever, it was very clever.

reflexion 4

reflexion 3

reflexion 5


Carnivorous plants were centre stage in a few gardens and this perforated screen shown below in Le Collectionneur de L’ombre was pleasing – a collection of ferns needed shade. The poem, well, a jungly romp with Spike Milligan that conveys the fun aspect of Le Jardin Sauvage. To follow a few more images and words on other parts of the festival.

collection de l'ombre 1

On the Ning Nang Nong

Where the Cows go Bong!

and the monkeys all say BOO!

There’s a Nong Nang Ning

Where the trees go Ping!

And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.

On the Nong Ning Nang

All the mice go Clang

And you just can’t catch ’em when they do!

So its Ning Nang Nong

Cows go Bong!

Nong Nang Ning

Trees go ping

Nong Ning Nang

The mice go Clang

What a noisy place to belong

is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!    Spike Milligan 





Meet under the canopy of  the Shard – this was the instruction for the students studying garden design masterplan (BA Hons Garden Design) and place and culture and masterplanning (BA Hons Landscape Architecture). New start to the term and new project site: The Borough, Southwark. Cold, windy and hard environment here with major works happening to London Bridge station. The Wikipedia  reference: Southwark is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Sudweca. The name means “southern defensive work” and is formed from the Old English sūth and weorc. The southern location is in reference to the City of London to the north, seemed appropriate to machinery machinations . . .

l bridge

l bridge 2

shard opposite

. .  just a glimpse of a tree and a tempting offer on a station poster.


more london 2

We intended to cover a semi circle – radius of 1000m centred on the station with first stop at more london  . . black Kilkenny limestone defining the strong desire line . . . a busy ‘chunnel’ at 1pm on a working day. We talked about how the space would feel on a Sunday. We hoped/suggested that the students might make a visit then to note changes. I would if this was my major design site  . . .

more london1

more london 3

more london 4

. . .  some tumbling and some sitting about and some standing around on scaffolding. Great Fraxinus – they work better here than the more decorative birch . . .

potters field

prunus sargentii

Through Potters Field and on by the London City Mission, we crossed under the tunnels arriving at St Mary Magdelen Churchyard and then into Tanner Street Park. A group of Prunus sargentii were starting the fireworks display  of autumn but, these poor trees showed the detrimental effect on plants trying to cope with badly laid paving + kerbs – terrifying hard landscaping. Through Leathermarket Gardens and Guy Street Park and on southwards to Tabard Gardens (lovely, potential here for detailed design – hint, hint) then east to Merrick Square and slowing down, a bit, to enjoy Trinity Church Square. .

trinity square 2

trinity square

mint street

. . . through Mint Street Park, we came across this community garden – green roof building and plenty of info for interested visitors. And yes, the baby came too.

mint street 2

On passed Cross Bones Cemetery and the ‘site with most potential’ that is currently a car park prior to development, we swung left down Southwark Street and into Neo Bankside. Many smiles spread across faces here. Maybe because the end was in sight but most likely as this landscape was deemed attractive by those studying – the staff more sceptical, which is their rightful position when analysing landscape projects, . . . . we’ll be doing it all again with the MA students – click here for this. We covered the semi circle ending at Tate Modern – another potential site – in just under 3 hours. So, looking forward to hearing and seeing the group survey presentation on this area, reading the A3 document and getting stuck into individual masterplanning at 1:500. All by the start of December – no pressure, of course.  Exciting site will produce imaginative designs. And the poem, well for me it’s about not being precious about the past, allowing some respect  but, mainly welcoming the future.

neo bankside

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.  E Bishop  One Art

malus 1

The nursery at Great Dixter opens well before the garden. This is a very good arrangement for us locals as we can shop and then start the journey around the garden (as a Friend, of course) before the world arrives.  There was a fresh energy in the air this morning.  Folks who know the set up will understand the chronology of the pics that follow. The group of malus by the lane  full of frothy white blossom partners the line of ash opposite looking OK??? fingers crossed . . .


4woven fence

. .  delicate touch on the woven fence – just enough for the country setting. Stacks/heaps/piles of hazel and… and … other timber.

6 wood heaps

7 walnut

Into the Front Meadow carpeted now with camassia.

8 camassias + yew hedge

And a couple of residents enjoying the sun at last by the front door. People who know me well also know that I am a little taken with these. They remind me of the 4 that I’ve had over many years. This is 2 year old Conifer in the foreground . . .

9 sweeties

. . . and Miscanthus who is about 6 months old. She’s very sweet.

10 new sweetie

11 birds

Strolling around to the Peacock Garden and the Carnival of Birds – my rename of Daisy Lloyd’s Parliament of Birds  . . .  I see the first of many Ferula with main stalk thrusting skywards.

12 ferula

A few views from the Cat Garden, High Garden and the Orchard Garden in no particular order.

13 view

14 view

15 view

By know I’ve decided that Fergus has become obsessed with ferulas – similar to his great liking of verbascums a couple of years ago. But then he’s master of the visual and the horticultural. Down to the Orchard where orchids are just flirting with the buttercups . . .

16 meadow

. . and on down the Long Border where a snapshot of the strong colour combinations  that Christo enjoyed was framed.

17 house

18 exotic

Muso basjoo, in the Exotic garden, still in their winter clothes but signs of delights flowering well on the walls around the Sunken Garden and a glimpse of a ghost.

19 climber


And for those students of Hadlow and University of Greenwich, I caught up with Kemal who was looking suitably nervous about his plant idents for the Great Dixter study days – some sympathy or a wry smile maybe, but fond memories.

Within my Garden, rides a Bird
Upon a single Wheel --
Whose spokes a dizzy Music make
As 'twere a travelling Mill --

He never stops, but slackens
Above the Ripest Rose --
Partakes without alighting
And praises as he goes,

Till every spice is tasted --
And then his Fairy Gig
Reels in remoter atmospheres --
And I rejoin my Dog,

And He and I, perplex us
If positive, 'twere we --
Or bore the Garden in the Brain
This Curiosity --

But He, the best Logician,
Refers my clumsy eye --
To just vibrating Blossoms!
An Exquisite Reply!  Emily Dickinson

A year on and another group of talented students finish their final year of study on the 2 degree programmes – Landscape Architecture and Garden Design – run by Hadlow College and the University of Greenwich. These students have either studied full time on the 3 year programme or studied part time taking 4 years. They have their own public show at Hadlow College (see last year’s post here)  and a few (featured here) are invited to hang their work with students from the Diploma and Masters in Landscape Architecture and Garden History. The venue is the Queen Anne Court of the Maritime Greenwich Campus.

This year 2 sites were offered for the project work covering group and personal research (Place and Culture), master planning, detailed area and technical detailing.  The choice was between Jubilee Gardens (below), on the South Bank, and town park in Tunbridge Wells.

Jubilee Gardens suffers from the usual constraints of a city ‘void’  – pollution, wind, lack of  character, impingements of large surrounding buildings and facilities plus the impact of shade and microclimatic problems – and on the positive side, an opportunity to create a breathing space for many different users. Elena Ilieva’s concept for the master plan of this site . . .

. . and her plan at 1:200 showing amphitheatre event space, water course and main and secondary path network. And a section through the site showing structural and decorative tree planting.

Also Elena’s sketch view of one of her 1: 50 areas.

The other site on offer for the final design project was the steeply sloping park, Calverly Grounds, in Tunbridge Wells. Originally designed by Decimus Burton in 1830’s and now suffering from a lack of identity with little useful upkeep (focused on mow and blow) and gradual removal of significant elements both practical and aesthetic – the bandstand has long gone. The sterility of these images is a clear representation of the park as seen – there is a festival and other entertainments during the summer but little happens, due in part to poor  facilities, during the rest of the year.

Grant Beerling’s master plan at 1: 1000 showing his proposal for the plan and relationship to connecting elements. This kick satrted his ‘big idea’ and the title of his project  ‘Park Life’.

And a detail at 1: 200 showing water courses, paths through planting on shady bank and through colourful sunny aspect borders. The scheme at night with functional and decorative lighting.

Grant’s visuals to support his plans.

Adele Ford titled her proposal ‘The Source’. Evocative of the historic aquifers, a necessity for new town development in earlier centuries. The main terrace at the centre of her scheme at 1: 50 scale and section through clearly showing changes in level.

And a couple of 3 D views from Adele’s work showing the spatial character and how well selected tree species can bring personality and individuality to parts of the park.

Model at 1:200 scale by Alick Nee for his scheme for Calverly titled ‘A Rivus runs Through’ plus the ground plan at the the same scale.

The playful feel and the romantic option in a couple of sketches. . . .

. . . and a technically competent planting plan at 1:50 scale. Hurrah!

Susan Willmott overlaid the curving water course with a strong desire line in the form of a bridge and connecting terraces at the heart of the site and shown in the 1: 200 plan  . . .

. . the area under the bridge is a small water garden for the restaurant – a sense of privacy but also exploration –  1:50 plan.

. . and two visuals to convey use and also identity of her scheme for the site.

The work from the degree students stacked up very well to the work from those at higher levels of study. Congratulations all of you!

In life’s exigencies men have been known
To pass themselves, and to attain to more
Than hope; as if in combat with the gods
The god in them secured supremacy. Robert Crawford   Achievement


There’s a great specimen of Parrotia persica by the path that runs from the Design Studio to the main building on the Hadlow campus. Students and staff brush past this large shrub which is almost a tree about 6 times day. The current 3rd year, brushed up against a smaller specimen in Calverly Gardens, Tunbridge Wells this week on a survey visit for the Place and Culture project. No one could recognize the plant. Of course, their minds are on different things  – many research projects and the start of their major year long project – so recalling a certain plant is not top of their priorities at the moment. We’ve all looked at plants that we know perfectly well and been stumped for the name.  In a way, that’s the rationale behind this post, readjusting with the known but looking with fresh eyes.

Looking to the sky with one long deep breath . . . . hardly any leaves left on the Acer palmatum . . . . but with such a spectacular colourful finale in autumn, it must be exhausted and longing for dormancy.

Many berries still on Crataaegus prunifolia and fruits of a different sort on the pine.

The double borders are pinned down with 2 lines of fastigiate oaks. At the start of the journey down the borders, the naked stems of the pollarded pauwlonias echo the upright habit and encourage the eye skywards again.

A line of Alnus incana in front of the birch – all quite simply positioned but apposite. The torch looks great at the base of one shining upwards! So looking upwards, the last leaves on the cotinus flutter away.

And onto the Betula nigra group with the young branches still fairly smooth and tactile. Those who know these gardens will recognise the route I chose by the sequence of the images . . .

. . . the mature trunk and branches are wonderfully wrapped in the tissuey layer of peeling bark.

And the taxodiums are entering their quiet time. A good deal of this planting was instigated by Kemal Mehdi, a plantsman and an individual who influenced and inspired students and staff alike. He’s missed by many here including me but busy on his own garden now.

There is no Silence in the Earth — so silent
As that endured
Which uttered, would discourage Nature
And haunt the World.  Emily Dickinson

The students studying landscape architecture and garden design  pinned up their final project work as part of the degree show in the design studio at Hadlow College this week. They use this campus in their first and second year but, spend all of the third or final year at the Avery Hill campus of the University of Greenwich. Most would agree that it’s good to return to Hadlow, especially at this time of year when the there’s a lot going on in the borders. The site that the project was based on, is a large private garden near East Grinstead with a choice from 3 scenarios for the client brief. It may not just remain a ‘paper project’ for some students as the clients may wish to proceed with certain areas if they like the ideas shown.  The first stage covered preparing a master plan  – drawings and covering documentation – at 1:500 scale before moving into design development stage – plans, model, sections and sequential sketches at 1:200 scale with overlays for structural planting, drainage, lighting etc. The final stage is worked at 1:50 scale with plans and accompanying 3 dimensional explanation. Technical detailing is also required at this scale. The examples below show that all their hard work pays dividends – all should feel good about their work if exhausted!

This is Elliott Green’s master plan – it’s my crooked picture not Elliot’s work ! Below in order: Felicity Mantella 1:200 + section; Jenn Moss 1:200 and concept plan; Juliet Peter’s birds eye drawing of  1:200 area.

Below Paco Alvarez model at 1:200 scale: Rali Zachieva and Will Blackledge plans at the same scale.

A few examples of sections through the garden areas from Paul Hadley; 2 from Sam Gall and finally Tomasz Tandecki.

To follow section and sequential sketch by Whitney Hedges; sketch of front garden from Lisa Vandepeer and 2 sequential sketches by Mo Murton.

Following on Peter Thomas’ Winter Garden at 1:50 scale; Karolina Malecha plan at 1:50 of ornamental  vegetable garden and Matt Dalby’s 1:50 plan of the walled garden.

To finish Rali’s visual of her green wall idea and 3 visuals by Joh Bates.

Some of these students will continue to study on the Post Graduate programme either next year or later on after working in the industry. Some may decide to work as sole practitioners and a few may just take a good break away but they all have talent!

This is where I came from.
I passed this way.
This should not be shameful
Or hard to say.

A self is a self.
It is not a screen.
A person should respect
What he has been.

This is my past
Which I shall not discard.
This is the ideal.
This is hard.
James Fenton

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