Five years since gold at Tatton

Five years ago we were in the middle of building the ultra-futuristic ‘2101’ garden for RHS Tatton, which went onto win a gold award. The concept was around planting for climate change, with huge cowboy-film style Saguaro cacti, as well as the large round ‘mother-in-law’s cushions’ golden barrel cacti. We used large format porcelain paving to create a large path and seating area, with shaded pergola to shade from the intense sun. There was also a rain garden, designed to absorb excess rainwater, for climate extremes. People don’t realise just how much work goes into making a show garden picture-perfect, planning every

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Superbloom at the Tower of London

I've been following the fantastic work of visionary designer Nigel Dunnett, with his new project at the Tower of London to commemorate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. More than 20 million seeds have been sown in the moats around the historic landmark, which have just recently sprung to life and flowered. The naturalistic planting scheme is carefully planned to evolve into a riot of colour and scents over the summer. A slide will transport visitors directly down into the flowers, for a fully immersive experience. As the professor of planting design and urban horticulture, Nigel is well-known for his stunning Olympic 2012 meadows and

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Award wins for RHS Bridgewater

The Award wins for RHS Bridgewater welcome building has won a prestigious RIBA architecture award – North West Building of the Year. This is very well deserved news as it really is a beautiful design, housing a café, gift shop and plant centre. The gardens themselves have been hugely popular as the first RHS garden to be created in an urban area. I also noticed that there was recent news of the new National Trust ‘skyline’ garden being created on a viaduct in the Castlefield area of Manchester. Work begun in March and the garden bridge is due to open this summer. Bringing high quality

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Adding the glamour to a wildlife garden

It's a common misconception that wildlife gardens can't be 'sexy' and that growing food in your garden is the reserve of those with land to spare. The Cloud Nine Kitchen Garden put paid to that.Particularly relevant to small town and city spaces, the garden dealt with issues of food security, wildlife conservation and sustainability in a tiny 6 x 4 metre plot.This was my first show garden, at RHS Tatton Park in 2015, and my first chance to show the world my passion for gardens. Back then, the majority of garden designs did not incorporate wildlife and ecology but I wanted to showcase

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Rewilding at RHS Chelsea

It’s great to see themes of re-wilding in the spotlight at this year’s RHS Chelsea show, a year after I launched my Rewilding garden at RHS Tatton. The concepts of re-wilding have really captured people’s imaginations in the past few years. Traditionally the RHS flower shows were all very formal and very high maintenance, so I do enjoy seeing elements of wildness and ecology being brought in to demonstrate how we can all enjoy our gardens, while still sharing them with wildlife. Of course, the true essence of the concept of rewilding is diluted slightly in such a managed format such as a show

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northern roots oldham

Northern Roots – one step closer

Planning permission has been submitted this week for the UK’s biggest urban farm and eco-park in Oldham. If this goes ahead – and fingers crossed, it should – this new 160 acre site will be amazing for the local ecology and wildlife, as well as the local community. The plans include a visitor and learning centre, a natural amphitheatre and a swimming pool, as well as community allotments and growing space and a café. I think it's a really exciting development and have been following the news since it was first announced. boulevard in the skyAnother interesting development in for planning

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Carex nigra

Have you heard the grasses?

For some reason, many homeowners do not consider using grasses within their front or back gardens. Yet as a garden designer, I almost always use one type of grass within a design as they have so many functions. Carex Nigra is one of my favourite grasses and I use it a lot within design. The green and black seed heads sit above translucent lime green stems, gently waving in the breeze. On top of that, it is tolerant of poorly drained soil and exposed sites, so is a really hardy plant as well as being visually quite stunning. As well as providing a great

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Will you lock up your lawnmower?

I love the #NoMowMay campaign and finally people are realising that dandelions and daisies are not a danger and clover should not be cleared. It's fantastic to see so many people on social media showing photos of their lawn and saying they will let their lawn grow, as part of #NoMowMay. Research has found that letting flowers and plants within your lawn bloom naturally can provide 10 times the amount of nectar for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. I would recommend choosing an area of lawn to leave growing, and still mow the parts of the lawn that you use. You could create

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Bridgewater Basin

Floating plants at Bridgewater Basin

This week I had a meeting in central Manchester, so I went into town early to take a look at the biodiversity work done around Bridgewater Basin on the Rochdale canal. Years ago, this was a tired dirty canal basin, surrounded by beautiful buildings such as the Bridgewater Hall. Now it's been given a biodiversity makeover and it is far more in keeping with a modern city centre, that brings together re-development with supporting local ecology. Now these floating active ecosystems help improve the biodiversity and the water quality, creating a haven for wildlife and obviously increases the aesthetics for passersby. This

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Planting sunflowers and lavender

Could there be a more British combo than planting lavender and sunflowers. Not necessarily together – but they are both classic garden plants that are easy to grow and bring us huge amounts of pleasure. Now the RSPB has launched a campaign for homeowners to plant more of these plants in order to help reverse the decline of common garden species, such as starlings and bumblebees. The organisation says that starling numbers have fallen by two thirds since the 1970s, while populations of half of bumblebee species falling. The RSBP wants people to plant flowers that produce seeds/ nectar that are loved by birds

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Outdoor kitchen design with woodfired oven

Is it barbecue season yet?

It doesn’t take much for a British person to light up the barbecue. Just a warm Saturday afternoon with some sun rays to tempt us outdoors. However, a few burgers and sausages burnt to a crisp really doesn't cut it anymore. Since I've been a garden designer, outdoor kitchens have grown enormously in popularity. Now the majority of my clients want some sort of outdoor cooking experience, as well as fully zoned areas, such as relaxing areas and dining areas within the garden.We’ve always use Alfa wood fired ovens because they are such a superior quality and very versatile. They are

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