We use cookies on this website. To use the website as intended please accept cookies.

Thursday March 21 , 2019

Blue Daisy Blog

Blue Daisy blog written by Nicki Jackson & Jules Clark - for news, views, garden design, gardening and plant observations and thoughts.

Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Levens Hall

Great British Garden Revival - Episode 2

Posted by on in News & Views

Rachel de Thame - Topiary

topiaryRachel began by explaining that the topiary art form is an important part of our heritage, it was extremely fashionable in the Tudor and Elizabethan era.  In its heyday all sorts of shapes were created not only because it was the height of fashion but also because many of the plants we have in our gardens today hadn't been discovered and brought into the UK. This meant that even in the depths of winter the gardens still offered colour, interest and excitement in bucket loads!  Topiary went as far as the creative mind and individual's skill allowed from huge domes of Box, imposing archways of Yew through to rabbits, birds, chess pieces and even a teapot on the top of hedges!

In the 1800s a lot of our topiary gardens were removed to make way for the new naturalist garden movement that was sweeping the country.  Levens Hall in the Lake District is said to be one of the most extensive topiary gardens in the world, is one of the few places in the UK where the owners through the years steadfastly maintained their love of topiary.  Today it still attracts many visitors to marvel at the existing and unique living structures and forms.

Sadly topiary, having played such an important role in our histrory, is an art form that is being lost.  Purist topiarians (I believe this could well be my own word - I'm not sure whether people who do topiary are called topiarists, topiarisers or topiarians!) use hand tools and say they can become completely absorbed in creating new structures. It's a time comsuming skill and by all accounts can be completely addictive!! However, for unskilled and less confident topiary fanciers there are companies that construct welded metal wire frames which can be purchased in a particular shape. These frames can be placed over Yew or Box plants and then snipped and pruned to that shape and after a few years the wire frame will be hidden.

Creating low cost topiary plants can be achieved by taking softwood cuttings, planting them straight into a well prepared nursey bed and after a few years these can be the start of a new hobby. Whether you are creating imposing arches or spirals in containers be creative and have fun because topiary can be included in any garden regardless of style or size.

Roof Gardens - James Wong

roofgardenJames looked at roof gardens in London both past and present. Living in cities means that access to green spaces is limited but by using a roof as a garden it allows us to access all these spaces currently not doing anything.

When you talk to people about roof gardens they often think of them as a modern introduction or even a trend but in many other countries around the world - where space is literally unheard of - roof gardens are an absolute must, a way of life and a standard part of urban planning. Inner cities are known for being 6-8 degrees hotter than rural areas because bricks and concrete retain the heat from the sun, this is known as the Urban Heat Island effect. Creating spaces such as roof gardens with plants helps to cool the air, create shade, absorb water, reduce pollution and provide a haven for wildlife.

Roof gardens aren’t new to us here in the UK either, they were a modernist dream over a hundred years ago, being cited as the future model that would become common place. In the 1920s Selfridges in London created their own flamboyant pleasure garden on their rooftop to entice their customers. Soon their competitors, the other department stores, began to create their own with putting greens, ponds, ornamental and productive gardens all being included. The Kensington Roof Garden was created, a 1.5 acre rooftop oasis split in to three main themes, Tudor gardens, a woodland garden (with fully grown Oak and fruit trees in 1.5m soil!) and a Spanish garden all of which bring their own wildlife including flamingos! This garden is still in existence and is open to the public. Sadly many of these floating oases were destroyed during the blitz and were seen as too costly and ostentatious to recreate and repair in post war years.

Today a roof garden is very possible and the logistics of getting materials up there is easier with the use of a crane, for smaller items they can be carried up stairs or in the lift. A lot of thought needs to go into the logistics and planning, including discussing with a structural engineer what weight the roof can take and working with a garden designer to make the dream a reality. Consideration is required for the plants, most new beds or containers will have depth restrictions of around 45cm (18ins) for root space and the sheer creation of a garden in the sky means it is more exposed to winds. Plants that will survive in little soil and being on a manmade cliff are, for example, coastal plants and ornamental grasses. Ensuring you have the right plant in the right place means that most of your work can be done at the outset.

Lightweight containers are much better than heavy terracotta not only for weight but also because terracotta will absorb water and this evaporates quickly meaning there is more work for you to do keeping the plants well watered. Using a product like expanded clay is good too because it retains water and is light to lift, remember to finish off with a mulch like gravel which will help retain moisture and reduce weed growth. Creating a roof garden means you are ultimately responsible for creating the right conditions for plants to grow so you don’t have to work with and keep the heavy clay soil the rest of us have to when we buy a house here in the Midlands!

birminghamlibraryroofgardenIn Birmingham the new library, a very modern building, has received criticism and has been applauded equally for its futuristic architecture also has a roof garden which is open to the public (left). The community can come and simply look out over Birmingham or bring a book up to read and enjoy the green space. Volunteers take turns in caring for the plants and borders; they are growing both ornamental and productive plants some of which are used in the cafe. This whole process also helps with offsetting the building’s carbon emission. I visited in November 2013 and was struck by the vastness of the space we were in, the garden was lovely and you can imagine what it would be like in the height of the season. Looking out over Birmingham left me feeling cold though, there wasn’t one other roof garden it was simply a concrete jungle crying out for greenery.

Even if you only have a few square metres and you create a roof garden, it will change your life. It will help to bust the stresses of modern life, cool the city, absorb pollution and create an environment for wildlife to co-exist. If you want more information on creating roof gardens get in contact with us for an initial chat.

 

Hits: 5221 0 Comments
0

Blog Categories

Tag Cloud

planning your garden Mrs Loudon Highgrove Tom Hart-Dyke HTA birch Winter shrubs CorTen steel reclaimed materials acer RHS garden advice at home Jekka McVicar cyclamen November garden unity Futurescape pests October garden timber Urban Heat Island Ilex hydroponic bees Cut flowers Joe Swift build John Massey water butt Sophie Raworth Echinacea Carol Klein saving water front garden grey water Euphorbia RHS Tatton Park pollinating insects lawn care watering can Fleece traditional style summer garden contemporary Cambridge botanical garden eco-friendly autumn garden Coastal plants July garden Gardeners World Stone Lane Gardens Floating Paradise Gardens of London Joseph Banks deer hosepipe poppies show gardens Hosta March garden green spaces Perennial Laurel GYO Daffodils August garden gravel basil drought colour in your garden bulbs cottage gardens Berberis terracota December garden heatwave Garden Planning Toby Buckland plants garden January garden Blue Daisy National Gardening Week doddington hall Capability Brown Decking HNC Trees Malvern Spring Show alpines sorbus Acuba Lantra Events & Shows productive garden Alys Fowler BBC snow winner recycled materials Charlie Dimmock bulb display Kensington Roof Garden water winter garden Levens Hall rainwater harvesting garden room repetition National Trust Lawrence Johnston herbs vertical garden London Achillea Briza maxima Joanna Lumley plant pots Greenhouse rosemary Hidcote Glasshouse Horticultural women and work award Phyllostachys nigra courtyard Narcissus Selfridges Roof Garden sunflowers kitchen garden Wisley Matt James Crocus Urban Heat Island Effect herbaceous borders roof gardens water conservation scented shrubs February garden watering Kelmarsh Hall Cosmos astrosanguineus Taxus RHS Chelsea Wildflowers Spring shrubs RHS Malvern garden design wildlife Stoneleigh stonemarket career in horticulture Buxus form Geranium Ashwood Nurseries rock gardens ash sound in the garden spring bulbs composting Great British Garden Revival ha ha patio water feature James Wong Bamboo New York Highline CorTen ornamental grasses Alan Titchmarsh twitter structure Malvern Hills April garden paving Absorb pollution September garden Shrubs Cloches legacy gift NSALG garden design tip RHS Hampton Court pond blue Prince Harry Herb gardening on tv Berginia wild flowers garden design trends kerb-side appeal movement in the garden Rachel de Thame Moss Bank Park surfaces grow your own Chelsea Physic Garden Herb garden Chris Beardshaw sweat peas edible garden show Horticulture elm Monty Don pollinators hard landscaping cottage garden June garden house plants Horticulturalist topiary May garden Chelsea Flower Show Nicki Jackson Birmingham Library roof garden rococo Seed sowing spring garden garden focal points Snowdrops February Kew Gardens

Welcome to Blue Daisy Blog



Our Promise

promiseWe work hard to keep our customers happy.  We work to a voluntary customer charter.

Peace of Mind

simplybusinessWe take our responsibilities seriously so we're insured through Simply Business.

Click on the logo for our Garden Design insurance details. For Gardening details see our gardening services page.

Proud Members Of...

landscapejuicen... The Landscape Juice Network where we interact with other professional gardeners, designers and landscapers.