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Monday July 22 , 2019

Blue Daisy Blog

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

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Fabulous front gardens - the benefits

Posted by on in Garden Design

front-garden-designIn all of the years we’ve been designing gardens we’re rarely asked to do anything with a front garden.  We seem to think long and hard about what we want from our back gardens but rarely approach our front gardens with the same level of gusto – or indeed with any level of gusto to be fair – which is a shame.  

When we ask clients what they want from their back gardens the lists we get back are usually long and multi-faceted  but ask somebody what they want from their front garden and most people tend to lean towards the ‘somewhere to park the car’ and ‘somewhere to hide the bins’ approach, and don’t take their thoughts any further. But why stop there?  We may not want to sit out and entertain in the front garden but a fabulous front garden is in reach of anyone who has one and in this first article of two I’m going to try to convince you why it’s worth going beyond the total paving approach to our front gardens and opting instead for a beautiful, planted but still functional space. 

So, in no particular order here are our top 5 reasons to choose a fabulous front garden...

  • Aesthetics. Put simply, a street full of lovely front gardens is a nicer place to be and see, but aesthetics have an economic trade off as well because that kerbside appeal translates into improved house prices.  A well kept front garden tops the list of the top 5 exterior must-haves for homebuyers with almost a third of us being willing to pay up to 25% more for a home with kerbside-appeal.  
  • Supporting wildlife.  While gardens will never replace natural habitats they are an important nature reserve that can support a substantial range of wildlife. Evidence is growing that some species that were once common in low-intensity farmland are now more abundant in urban areas and particularly in domestic gardens.
  • Mitigate flooding. More and more of us are increasing the amount of paving we have in our gardens, especially our front gardens; a trend that has been linked to a higher frequency and magnitude of flooding in those areas with increased levels of impervious paving. Recognising these problems the UK now has legislation relating to front gardens and flooding.  Simply put, permeable surfaces and planted up front gardens help prevent flooding.  Vegetation, especially trees, acts like a storm water management tool.  It captures intense rainfall and temporarily holds it in its canopy which eases demands on urban drains. At its other end vegetation encourages better infiltration of water into the soil which reduces surface water flows.  
  • Reduce urban temperatures.  Urban areas – dominated by dark and impervious surfaces – absorb considerably more heat and reflect considerably less than planted surfaces; which makes them warmer than planted areas. This is essentially what causes the urban heat island effect where cities experience higher than normal temperatures as compared to surrounding rural areas. Current research suggests that a 10% increase in vegetated surfaces in urban areas would help manage the rise of summertime air temperatures due to climate change; our front gardens have the potential to significantly contribute to this goal.
  • Improve human health. Much research points to the benefit of green spaces in human health terms – alleviating stress, improving cognitive function, improved self discipline; reduced illness levels, better relaxation and being able to cope with trauma have all been evidenced, while the act of gardening brings with it physical health benefits too.

This list isn’t exhaustive but when so many positive consequences can come from reconsidering and treating your front garden as a garden rather than a car park and bin store why wouldn’t you opt for a fabulous front garden?  Tips for how to achieve one though is an article for another day so please look out for part 2 coming soon!

 

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7 Key Tools for DIY Garden Design

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diy-garden-design-tools-2015It’s National Gardening week this week and it’s also slap bang in the middle of DIY season, so we thought we’d combine the two and showcase 7 (-ish!) key tools you’ll need to be able to do a spot of DIY garden design

These tools are all about doing. There will be many reasons why you want a change in your garden; the things to consider and think about; resources for inspiration, and much more but we’re assuming that you’ve done all of that thinking prior to starting this DIY garden design project and now just want to get stuck in! And these tools will certainly help you on your way.

So, in no particular order...

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Garden Design Quick Tip - Repetition through Form

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repetition-formRepetition is one of those key elements of garden design that helps achieve that goal of unity in a garden.  Whilst unity is the harmonisation of the whole, repetition is a part of unity, and there are many ways of using repetition in a garden design. A while back we briefly looked at using repeat planting in a way that ‘steadies’ the planting plan and helps each area relate to another by adding harmony to the borders.  In that example we were repeating specific plants but this time around we wanted to widen the scope and application of repetition to include form too. 

In garden design, ‘form’ generally refers to the visible shape or configuration of something and often it is the plants that non-garden designers tend to think about in terms of form – tall plants, wide plants, bushy but compact plants, etc.  While plants are a major tool in achieving repetition when you widen the scope to include other elements in the garden too, that is when you can really start to see the possibilities for repetition; and consequently for better unity in your garden design too. 

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Top 5 Things we Love about Garden Design

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Inspired by Valentine’s Day, it’s been love week here at Blue Daisy and all week we’ve been talking about things we love about garden design.  To be honest there are far too many things to include here; favourite plants, materials, shapes, styles, gardens and more, all got a mention but in looking at garden design as a process there were some very clear ‘winners’.  So, in no particular order here are Blue Daisy’s top 5 things we love about garden design:

Collaboration

love-garden-design-collaborationWe just love the collaborative process that garden design is.  Our clients are a diverse lot!  Some know exactly what they want from their garden design while others haven’t a clue.  Still others might know certain elements they would like but not how they can get them into their garden space.  Every garden Nicki designs is different and is designed for a particular client but every design has been a collaborative process between client and garden designer.

Anticipation

Even though a client has seen the plans and signed off on their garden design concept it’s often not until the garden has been cleared and the ground works started that they will start to really ‘see’ what’s coming and it’s at that point that the anticipation of their new garden usually really grips them.  We love sharing that sense of anticipation and excitement with our clients.

Transformation

Transformation is perhaps an obvious one to choose for garden designers but we love to see our clients’ responses to the overall transformation of their garden from that very first meeting Nicki has with them, through the design process, the whole build stages and finally to completion. In some cases the change from the ‘before’ to the ‘after’ is profound and it’s not just the physical landscape of a client’s garden that is transformed either – in many cases a new garden design has led to a whole new experience for our clients...

love-garden-design-2Introductions

We know it might sound a little odd but as part of the garden design process when the build has been completed and the planting has been done Nicki will usually ‘introduce’ the garden and the plants in it to our clients.  Getting to know the different elements of their garden and the plants in it; the job they do in the overall scheme and design, how to look after them, what to expect from them through the changing seasons, and more, is an introduction that often sparks or cements a burgeoning new love affair that often blossoms between our clients and their new garden design and we just love playing cupid!

Relationships

Relationships work on two levels for Blue Daisy – firstly, we love the relationships we have with our clients and secondly we love the relationships our clients have with the gardens we have designed for them.  We hear time and again about how our garden designs have changed the relationship our clients have with their gardens and we love it.  Some clients have turned into serious plant-lovers – from a position of steadfast indifference; while others have been transformed into gardeners; still others have talked about complete lifestyle changes where their new garden has become a major new hub of activity and socialising for their families; others have found a new and improved relationship with their homes – however it has affected them we just love that we have been part of those changes through our garden designs.

 

 

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Top tips for choosing surfaces in your garden design

Posted by on in Garden Design

surfaces in garden design - patio, vertical surfacesIn and of their own right, for many of us, surfaces don’t often take precedence when thinking about our gardens but they are a key element of any garden design. 

It is the surfaces of the hard landscaping that usually dominate a garden through the winter and set off beautiful planting schemes in the growing and flowering seasons but surfaces are much more than that because the materials used to create that perfect patio or winding pathway carry with them not only functionality but scene-setting, mood enhancing, aesthetic impact that does much of the legwork in hanging a whole garden design together. 

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