Monday, 28 March 2016

Chelsea flower Show 2016 - Forever Freefolk cont'd 4

The trials of a Chelsea show garden continue....

Flints and bricks go so well together in
walls, sometimes even with stone.
There is something welcoming about a
flint and brick wall that is timeless.
Flints as a wall building material have
been used for centuries as they make
good filling material adding strength
to the wall when held in place
by brick or stone.
Flints used to be traded in the same way as gold and were worth far more.

How do we use the idea of brick
and flint walls in a modern way
to go with the conceptual idea.
Gabions are used for effect and as structural walls.

Sourcing the correct flint and gravel has given me sleepless nights. Not many people can say the flints are giving me nightmares.....

The wire casements give the rigidity and form, with the fill of brick and flint making the structure stable. The beauty of the different surfaces of the flint is visible through the wire, without the need for mortar.

The dried riverbed floor is a mixture of different sizes of flint gravel. Through this will be colourful plants which thrive in these stony conditions.

Erigeron Quakeress a wonderful summer flowering perennial to 45cm when in flower.

Centaurea simplicicaulis makes tight mounds of grey foliage with these lovely pink cornflowers.

Nigella or 'Love in the Mist' will self seed giving a carpet of blue. Then its seed-heads look good for the rest of the season.

Achillea 'Gloria Jean' a good strong pink form that thrives in gravel areas.

All of the above plants and their close relatives make excellent gravel bed plantings.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Chelsea 2016 - Forever Freefolk cont'd 3

Why have we used the pattern we have, for the feature sculpture within the garden?
Who could not marvel at the beauty and intricacy of the above structure.
What is it?
This is a Coccosphere, or in simple terms a group of phytoplanktonic creatures from the Jurassic period, individually known as Coccolithophores.
Chalk is an amazing sedimentary layer laid down when our seas where at 20 degrees centigrade.
I would have loved to have been around then to scuba dive in such amazing waters with so much incredible life.
Using this wonderful matrix we designed both our sculpture and the coccolith stepping stones.

A coccolith is the skeletal remains of the creature, which is what we see today under the microscope within chalk.

The vision was to make the sculpture looks as though it is floating above the source of the crystal clear waters of the chalk stream.
Models help with the ideas giving a 3 D aspect, to iron out any flaws. With the help of our in house architect we were able to make an initial model. From this not only do we see how the sculpture will sit within the garden but also where we need contouring.

Going on from that, is the realisation of how to forge this in Aluminium and also how to make the whole thing work.

Attention to the details is the way to make all of these plans come into realisation. By having  a great partnership with the team, who can think about how the dream can become reality.
Sketches always help to consolidate the ideas; but although they give a certain perspective you still need to have working models.

This is where modern computerisation comes into its fore.
The foresight is brought into reality, showing the floating Coccosphere with the elevated path going through.
The designers vision is visible giving everyone a great perspective of the idea.

The process from here on is to have the model in physical pieces at a 5th size to make sure the joints work and the look are exactly as required.
It is from this stage that foundry casts will be made. Once made there is the possibility of changing colour. This can be an endless task as it an be spray painted to give any effect required. Definite decisions have to be taken.
Who knows what the finished Sculpture colour and texture will be?
That is for you to wait and find out....


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Chelsea Flower Show 2016 - Forever Freefolk cont'd 2

Inspiration comes in many forms it can be a word, or in this case it can be a picture with elements that give the basis for the ideas to create a conceptual garden. This wonderful fishing hut with the eel traps floating above the crystal waters of the river test, gave rise to the floating pathway running through the garden. The idea of some structure as a feature hovering over this path way was the next element to be designed, for this we went to the microscopic plankton that make up chalk.

These organisms are called coccolithospores which group together forming a coccosphere which is what we based our feature on. Above is the initial ideas of how it would look hovering over the water source. But as with all ideas and the practicality of functional design it has changed slightly.      

This was our first working model.
After this and many more detailed alterations that make the design operational the below cartoon is the finished article. Ready to star being put together in May 2016 for everyone to see.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Chelsea Flower Show - Forever Freefolk continues 1

This is very much a note by note progress of the way we worked to achieve securing a show garden at Chelsea flower show.

A show garden on main avenue at Chelsea flower show, how long can this take to go from bidding for sponsorship to applying for the space?

In truth we had 48hours to put a proposal forward to the sponsors Brewin Dolphin, one of the most renowned Chelsea sponsors.
After this a short list, which we made and then the need to do a presentation to really make the bid stick. Preparation time for this another 36 hours, talk about a tight time-scale.

Where do you begin but with a starting sketch from numerous ideas. To be honest that was not the starting point. It started with a scrap of A4 with various single words to describe the wonderful area we live in here at Freefolk in Hampshire. We live in the most amazing landscape, that over the geological era has changed significantly, through the ages.

The underlying area is made of chalk a very interesting material that can act like a sponge.

Chalk was laid down over a prolonged heating of the oceans many millennia ago. The seas were at 20 degrees Celsius the plank-tonic life was rich, the dying bodies of these coccolithophores end up on the seabed. The skeletons made from calcium carbonate of these creatures are known as coccoliths and it is this that is the backbone of the chalk.

How to integrate this beautiful natural structure into the garden design, was the next step.

All the ideas of what to base our design on had been narrowed down to the Chalk streams, Chalkdownland, Local industry and the effects upon the area.
The industry heritage is one of security paper-making. Portals make banknote paper, with the watermarks and silver threads for increasing the security of banknotes. This was all due to the Huguenots who moved here in the 1730's.
The river and path running through the garden are the silver thread.

Many of our naturally occurring features of Hampshire are utilised within the concept of this display garden.

The main underlying concept of Chalk streams is key to the story.
'Chalkstreams are our Rainforests' and are a very much a fragile important ecosystem that need protecting for our future.
Too much water extraction and we could end up with dried up streams as in our concept garden. Depicted by gravel planting and coccolith gabion stepping stones.

There are many elements to all designs, with various ideas coming and going.
Many times the constraints are monetary, as in many things in life meaning other paths have to be taken to reach the same goal.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Bright and beautiful cut flower plant collection

This collection of plants I have chosen for ease of growing and flower colour. They are certainly not subtle but bright and beautiful enough to lift your mood on seeing the gaiety.

Geum "Totally Tangerine"
This is the best new breeding in Geum for a long while,with its large single flowers in a soft tangerine. This colour is able to be used with various other combinations. It is ideal for cutting as it has long stems and numerous buds per stem that open over a long period. Grows in most soils and prefers a sunny site.
It flowers continuously throughout the season making it a really great garden and cut flower variety.

Achillea "Pomegranette" Tutti Frutii series
The Tutti Frutti™ Series of Yarrows were bred in the Netherlands. They are more compact and bushy, than other forms. They have rich pomegranate red flowers of very uniform size, with large individual florets that hold their colour. Excellent for cutting, deadheading any old flowers throughout the season will encourage more new buds.  They are suitable for the mixed herbaceous borders or amongst grasses, they also are suitable for growing in containers.

Aster Little Carlow
This wonderful aster is a cross  between A.cordifolius and A.novi-belgii producing masses of lilac/purple flowers in Autumn. Just an aside which I am not going to delve into but these are going to be known by the name Symphyotrichum Little Carlow.
Do not be misled by the name Little Carlow it has nothing to do with its height it is named after a hill.

Lychnis Gardeners World
Most gardeners will be very aware of the normal Lychnis coronaria with the single flowers which can become a nuisance due to its habit of seeding freely. This double form will not seed but does produce a profusion of flowers throughout the summer season. A sunny dry site is ideal for this plant giving a great contrast with its silver foliage.

Salvia Madeline
This unusual two tone salvia was a chance seedling chosen by Peit Oudulf in the Netherlands.
It is happy in a sunny site grown either in a grass border or with mixed planting. By picking regularly or deadheading it blooms well through the summer.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Forever Freefolk - Chelsea Garden 2016

                          Forever Freefolk

Chelsea flower show 2016 will be a challenge for me next year as I embark on a new venture, to take on the challenge of a Show garden for the first time...
This will be the 25th year I have exhibited at Chelsea and not only am I doing a Chelsea show garden for the first time but at the same time I will continue to be building the dynamic plant display within the Floral pavilion. As far as I am aware this will be the first time anyone has taken on this monumental task!!!

Just to give a taster as to the requirements of a Chelsea garden.

1. You need an outstanding sponsor - Brewin Dolphin
2. A brilliant contractor - Bowles & Wyer
3. Fantastic plants - Hardys Cottage Garden plants
4. The most amazing back up team
5. As per NannyMacphee2 - Lesson 5

So this is just the initial notice, more information will be given out follow this blog for more enticing snippets of how to succeed with a garden at
The Chelsea Flower Show......

A spark of an idea "chalk streams are our rainforests"

Monday, 27 April 2015

What's new for Chelsea 2015 - Second plant

Antirrhinum "Pretty in Pink"
Usually thought of as a traditional cottage garden plant or for use in big colourful bedding displays usually as an annual or biennial.

This new introduction is a perennial form with wonderfully glossy dark green leaves and strong pink flowers throughout the summer into autumn. The breeder Peter Moore has been working with these plants for a while to encourage the  free flowering habit by using Antirrhinum majus subsp. Tortuosum as the main breeding crossing it with other hybrids. Rust resistance is also an important factor to highlight along with hardiness similar to penstemons. The individual florets are slightly smaller than their cousins, they are very free flowering giving a wonderful show. Ideal for any flower borders or container grown, pruning back will encourage bushiness and encourage more flowers.