The Diary

Here are some of the things we've been up to in the last few months

Nursery Entrance Improvements and Updating

We were asked to review the appearance and usability of the entrance and parking layout of a prestigious, specialist nursery. The general perception of the owner was that the impression given to customers upon arrival at the nursery didn't reflect the high quality product the nursery was offering. The brief was to create a modern, crisp design, which improved the overall presentation of the business and better reflected the quality of the plants and advise on offer.


Upon arrival at the main gates it was hard to tell where the entrance onto the nursery was located (it is in fact just visible to the left of the parked car), which areas were intended for custiomer parking and which route customers should take. The existing planting had become overgrown and it struck us that there were no views onto the nursery itself.

  • The existing timber edging, light fittings and stone chippings were looking a little drab and dated.
  • The existing planting had become rather overgrown in places and died back in others. The overhanging tree canopy on the left meant that the planting areas were rather dark and uninviting.
The main entrance onto the nursery, through a narrow uninviting gateway, the very low-key main entry into the office and finally a sizeable area of poorly kept grass at the bottom of the parking area that was underutilised.

In progress

  • The site is cleared.
  • Construction of the oak sleeper retaining walls is well underway.

Upon completion

  • The new parking layout utilises all of the available space and allows for larger parking bays. The planting is retained by oak sleepers.
  • By simplifying the planting, altering the fencing and taking away parking from the area in front of the nursery views onto the sales area have been opened up.
  • A much wider and gently sloping access ramp provides a more generous and understandable entry point for customers.
  • The steps and planting around the office have been freshened up and new lighting added.
  • The planting in the raised beds has been greatly simplified and consists of a yew hedge in front of the perimeter fence, Pittosporum at the lower level and pleached hornbeams. All will be clipped to neat, clean shapes to provide strong lines.
  • The overhanging trees have been cut back to allow in more light. Lavender is to be planted in the narrow beds between parking areas, but not until spring.



Creating Formal Ponds

Putting in a couple of formal ponds seemed fairly straightforward at the outset. However a combination of the discovery of both a sewage pipe and a soakaway, together with a lot of rain just at the wrong time, meant that this project became rather trickier than anticipated.
  • We were able to dig out and lay the footings for the pond walls in good weather
  • Then the rains came and the ponds filled rather prematurely and the soil around the sides collapsed onto the footings.
  • After pumping out several times we were able to get the walls in and have a bit of a clean up.
  • The liners could then follow soon afterwards.
  • Polished sandstone paving finishes the path and edges. Reflections from trees in the garden on a calm day are rather lovely.
  • Planting, turfing and a little levelling / soil moving will take place in spring.



These are some photos of a garden where the construction was substantially completed in late summer 2014 and then planted up a couple of months later – hence not too much to see from a plant point of view as yet.
A smallish back garden with a change in level of well over 2m from top to bottom and a heck of a lot of trees in a small area. Only about ½ the garden was useable because of the fairly treacherous slope that cut across the garden. 
  • The base for a decked sitting area at the bottom of the garden.
  • The upper sleeper retaining wall is substantially in place. 
  • Timber steps leading down to the deck.
  • By building an oak sleeper retaining wall we were able to create a much larger flat area leading away from the house. Steps lead down through terraced planting beds to a new seating area with a lovely view back up the garden to the house.
  • The stepping stone path has only been laid temporarily. The contractors will be returning to lay it properly once the surrounding soil has had a chance to settle.
Much of the lower part of the garden is in shade, hence the use of plants such as Soloman's seal, foxgloves, Brunnera and ferns.