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Archive for the ‘View’ Category

See Gardenproud on Instagram

Friday, January 29th, 2016

We’ve recently joined Instagram and have the grand total of 30 Followers!

So a long way to go yet.

We are trying to upload new photos everyday.

The above photo features Basil who is one of our regular ride-on drivers, it’s already got a like from would you believe John Deere!

If you are looking for great pictures to inspire your garden thinking, then look no further than Gardenproud. You can see us at www.instagram.com

If you haven’t already signed up you can download the app for i-phone (IOS) , Android, or Windows phone at the above, or visit your App Store on your phone.

Looking forward to having you as Followers soon!

Highlights of Chelsea 2015

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

By Tim Sykes, Design Director at Gardenproud – 20/5/15

Team members from Gardenproud had a lovely day at The Chelsea Flower Show yesterday. Albeit typical English weather, we braved the showers and enjoyed the sunshine when it came.

The intro photo is a homage to one conclusion. That that among other colours, “orange” was very much part of the planting plan for many gardens.

Interestingly this colour is in with fashion designers this year. So maybe we should all read Vogue instead of the Garden Design Journal?

Weather apart, the show was really very good.

The first garden we saw was Jo Thompson’s M&G sponsored design – The Retreat. As you’d expect as the main sponsor for the show, no expense spared here. But, Jo really did herself proud on this and it looked amazing. I particularly liked her planting and the pontoons sitting in the water looked stunning.

Jo got a Silver-Gilt for this, but in my mind she should have received a Gold.

The next garden that grabbed our attention was Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam’sLiving Legacy. This garden commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

And how poignantly they achieve this.

With their scaffold poles carefully grinded into jagged spears the scene is set for a dramatic vista.

The guys received a Silver Gilt and what can I say, a very original idea well deserving of the award.

The next garden that certainly caught my wife’s eye was HRH Prince Harry’s Lesotho inspired project, designed by Matt Keightley (Matt is of 2014 fame with his “Hope on the Horizon” garden – brilliant). Hope is still in the name – “Hope in Vulnerability”

Well another Silver-Gilt was awarded, but like Jo’s I thought this garden really deserved a Gold.

Note the orange flowers!

I’m not sure if I’m old and fuddy duddy, but I didn’t like what I call the Bus Stop garden. The planting was very nice, but the architecture and hard landscaping seemed at odds, almost disconnected. Obviously my opinion is not relevant! This is the Cloudy Bay Garden, designed by Harry and David Rich. And it got a Gold!

Very clever, but not my cup of tea.

A clear favourite for one of our team members was the Homebase garden – Urban Retreat - in Association with Macmillan Cancer Research. Designed by Adam Frost.  I have to say this was a really refreshing entry from Homebase and it definitely deserved a Gold.

Two pics on this one. Well done Adam.

In the same vain, there was another garden, a little smaller, but none the less, no less brilliant. This was in the Fresh Gardens category, designed by Ruth Willmott – The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Garden. I really liked this garden.

A high contrast looking space both in terms of the way the hard and soft landscaping co-exist. Ruth has done a great job. Helped by a superb sculpture  by Rick Kirby.

Among the smaller gardens, I was struck by the exotic beauty of the Kranji, by Esmond Landscape. This was designed by John Tan and Raymond Tah. What a wonderful inspiration for those really difficult spaces where you have a huge drop just behind the house, that needs landscaping. A waterfull. why didn’t I think of it! The contractors landform did a super job of creating the vision, and here it is….

Ah! Look another glimpse of orange.

Well a Silver-Gilt, and well deserved.

Now, I have this really annoying habit of talking to anybody, and my wife despairs. She usually walks on at flower shows and I then have to try and find where the dickens she’s gone, which is all very stressful! But there I was, transfixed by the Viking Ocean Cruises show stand and being very rude about the whole idea of cruises and this chap said, “I know what you mean!” 50 something and not wanting to admit it. I spoke to guy, who I thought was just another punter, but he could just as easily have been a carefully planted Viking salesman. Anyway he was my age and I rudely commented on the people of a certain age who frequented cruises, then he corrected me and said he thought the same. But, ” couldn’t understand why his parents always went on cruises”. Then he went on one and is hooked. So maybe we will try one! Anyway the Viking garden was very impressive.

There were lots of other gardens and some really very smart commercial stands. One particular stand I was impressed by was the A Place in the Garden Stand. These guys had some wonderful outdoor lanterns and interesting zinc oversize balls. The  mixing of which with some traditional buxus balls could look stunning..

I had a long chat and was surprisingly impressed by the reasonable pricing strategy. So look them up at www.distinctivegarden.co.uk

Ok, so this is it…..

You cannot possibly ignore the shear passion and energy that went into the Chatsworth Garden. It is an unbelievable feat of design and logistics.

Dan Pearson, the designer is a god.

He has taken a great chunk of the garden and transposed it piece by piece, low loader, by low loader and recreated it at Chelsea.

I take my hat off to his courage, persuasive manner and ability to see through such a vision.

He thoroughly deserves BEST IN SHOW!

For further information or help with designing your garden for 2015 contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820, 0r at info@reallygardenproud.com

Great Comp is GREAT!

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

By Tim Sykes

Great Comp Garden is situated close to Crouch and St Mary’s Platt in Kent. Not far from Sevenoaks.

It’s well worth a visit. You can see more at their website www.greatcompgarden.co.uk

The gardens are open from the beginning of April through to 31st October each year. They are run by a charitable trust, adult entrance is £6.

Great Comp Gardens surround a beautiful 17th Century Manor House. There are various events during the year, so it’s worth checking on the website before your visit. This year hosted a specialist plant fair in the Spring, Open Air Theatre plus, The Great Comp Summer Show, and most recently the Autumn Extravaganza.

I’ve been driving past Great Comp enroute to one of our clients in Crouch for some time now and have been meaning to visit. So last week I used a spare couple of hours to whisk myself around the gardens, then enjoy a nice cup of tea and cake on their splendid Tea Terrace, adjoining The Old Dairy Tearooms.

The gardens are beautifully laid out and cover some 7 acres. With some very dramatic and colourful herbaceous borders, punctuated by stunning ornamental grasses, plus Azaleas, Magnolias, Acers and Rhododenrons. The garden also features many statues and folly’s, plus a more recently added Italian Garden.

While I was there there were an amazing array of Dahlias all out in full bloom, plus the grasses were wonderful, especially as they swayed in the rather pleasant breeze.

A visit during the summer will reveal their large salvia collection. You can find out more about this at www.dysonsalvias.com

Dysons Nurseries run by the Head Gardener and Curator, William Dyson, are situated at Great Comp and sell a select range of unusual hardy and half-hardy plants.

Whilst there I was rather attracted by some smart Peonie frames and climber posts. I’m afraid I succumbed and bought two of each!

Talking to the staff in the Tea Room, Great Comp is always keen to encourage voluntary help in the gardens. To offer assistance you can contact them on 01732 885094.

We will definitely be returning to Great Comp in the spring next year to enjoy their colourful borders.

For further information about Great Comp, Garden Design and Landscaping, or any Garden Maintenance questions please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or via email at info@reallygardenproud.com


It’s November and what’s happening in the garden?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

By Tim Sykes

Looking good in our garden at the moment are the Sedum Autumn Joy, and if you have them so will Sedum Iceberg.

Verbena Bonarensis can also still be looking the business.

I love the look of Hydrangeas as the flower heads turn from their full bloom colour to the slightly shabby chick hues. We tend to cut the flower heads off now and use them in doors as flower arrangements.

Our variegated Holly standard looks stunning with its fresh red berries. Even the Dahlias are often still in bloom. The odd rose lingers on through October and November. If you have rose climbers now is the time to prune them. A good guide on rose pruning can be found on the BBC Gardening website.

The trees had a particularly heavy leaf cover this year, so you can expect to have a lot of leaves to clear up this November. We tend to clear the leaves as we go rather than wait for one fall. A good strong blower, a soft plastic rake and bulk bags are probably the best tools to use. You can also purchase rather nifty hand grabbers – Yeoman make a pair around £10 from Greenfingers.com.  Regular clearance of the leaves helps minimise any damage to lawns. However in some instances where the gardens are so vast we have taken to mulching the leaves using our big rotary mowers and spreading the shredded leaves across the lawns. There is a school of thought that this helps put nutrients back into the lawn surface.

Talking of which it’s time to make that final cut of the lawn, then clean your mower for winter storage and servicing.

Typically the best time to be planting out larger shrubs, trees and hedging before the Winter sets in. For inspiration you might take a trip to nearby Sheffield Park, Uckfield, or English Woodlands nursery in Heathfield where you can also buy the plants.

The Autumn is also a good time to be trimming and shaping your hedges, so remember to get the hedge trimmer out, or ask your gardener to check them.

Plant containers and hanging baskets with winter flowering bedding plants including pansies and my favourite cyclamen. The cyclamen looks good in pots, but also can be planted out and will flower right through the Winter. Favourite places are under trees and in rockeries.

Don’t forget to get those Spring bulbs out there.

We’ve bought a whole variety of tulip bulbs to be planted in our front garden beds, and November is the best time to plant tulips.

Our choice for next Spring includes:

Blue Spectacle, which give a beautiful bluey lilac multi-petalled flower head

Little Beauty, a rather delicate small crimson flower

Tres Chic, with it’s distinctive white tuber shaped petals

Queen of Night, that famous black tulip which looks stunning planted in concentrated patterns, often seen mixed with fennel

There are good ranges in most of the local nurseries. We bought ours at Notcutts in Tunbridge Wells.

For any advice or further information about gardening and gardening design contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820 or, at info@reallygardenproud.com

Remember to wrap up warm, and enjoy November in the garden.


Eridge Horse Trials 2014

Monday, July 7th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago we trialled a little experiment.

Can we make a show garden in 2 days?

The Eridge Horse trials was beckoning. This has in the past been an international event attracting intermediate riders across a 3 part course including dressage, show jumping and cross country.

For further information about events see  South Eastern Equestrian Services at www.seesltd.com

The Event is set in the delightful grounds of the Eridge Estate, owned by the Marquess of Abergavenny.

The horse riding fraternity are of key interest to us, as are the residents of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding countryside, so what better way than create a lovely garden for all the visitors to the show to enjoy!

A very generous Tim Nolan, who incidentally organises the Trials with his mum, helped give us a big enough space and prominent enough position, to put us in front of our audience.

Thanks Tim!

So the test was on. A design was needed. Equipment, materials and plants were required. A design in hand and a couple of conversations later, and Tate Fencing and The Flower Pot Nursery, both based in Tunbridge Wells were on-board.

A BIG thank you to both of you!

The concept looked like this….

Essentially the show garden/stand revolved around a centre-piece – a nice (quintessentially English) open marquee, bordered by matching trellis panels and cottage garden borders. As a real crowd puller two giant terracotta pots contained two beautiful Ilex Crenata’s.

The Planting Plan included:

- A palette of Purples, Blues, Whites, Pinks and Lilacs

- Plants including……

Agapanthus

Verbena Bonariensis

Euonymous

Hydrangea Macrophylla

Echinacea Southern Belle

Lava Terra Barnsley

Lavender Augustifolia Edelweiss

Delphinium Highlander

Veronica First Glory

Veronica Fascination

Veronica Spicata

Achilliea Millefolium

Ceanothus Burkwoodii

Persicaria Superbum

Buxus

Thalictrum Delavayi Splendide

Geranium Orion

Cosmos

Stachys Lanata Byzantia

Campanula Lectiflora

Cistus Dansereaui

Salvia Amistad

Salvia Caradonna

Salvia Patens

Nepeta x Faassenii

Stokesia Laevis

With the plans under our arms we started to gather all the materials then set upon setting up the stand on the Thursday before the Show. We had 2 days to turn this into a reality……

We hope you like the finished result.

The whole experience was inexpensive, thoroughly enjoyable and created a surprisingly healthy list of enquiries, including cementing some good relationships with trusted suppliers.

So we’ll do it again!

For further information about our design, build and garden maintenance services contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820, or at Gardenproud.

Great Dixter!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

By Tim Sykes

And Great it truly is!

Great Dixter is known the world over as a place of pilgrimage for horticulturalists.

It was the family home of Christopher Lloyd, journalist and world re-knowned gardener himself, who worked so hard to make it the magnet it is today.

His parents Nathaniel and Daisy Lloyd bought the property in 1910, from Sarah Springett.

At the time the house was a shadow of its current granduer. Nathaniel had a vision for it and he hired the great architect of his time, Edwin Lutyens and his team to transform the building. Quite how he pulled this off is a mystery, as the young Lutyens was in great demand. Although closer inspection of the actual transformation experience would suggest that Lutyens colleagues may have been more responsible for the successful completion than he himself. This included dismantling and transporting another house from Benenden to Northiam, where Great Dixter is situated, and bringing the two together.

As was so often the case with architects of this period, Lutyens went onto design the gardens of Great Dixter. Not surprisingly, Lutyens contribution was fairly formal.

Much of this structure still exists today, albeit this is augmented with Christopher Lloyd’s and his mother Daisy’s own influence, which marries the formality with informality.

Christopher Lloyd being particularly well known for his work with the creation of wild meadows.

One of the great characteristics of the gardens are that they surround the house, so as the visitor you get an excellent view of the house as you journey around each room in the garden….

From the Meadow Areas, to the Mixed Borders, to The Walled Garden with its pebble mosaic, The Sunken Garden, The Long Border, and finally The Exotic Garden, there is a huge wealth of colour and mixing of species that is very Christopher Lloyd and a real feast for the eyes!

Our visit was in April 2014 and we’ll be back.

A must see is the Nursery and Shop. The Nursery is one of the best of it’s type and is championed by a brilliant horticulturalist you will find in the Nursery Shop. We bought loads of plants, so leave some boot space for this! The Shop has all manner of interesting gifts, but the star items are the re-furbed garden tools. I bought a fabulous pair of topairy shears for just £25.

I also bought……

- An ornamental rhubarb – Rheum Palmatum Atrosanguineum.

- Camassia Leichtlinii Caerulea – for its lilac blue flowerheads

- Geranium Maderense – for it’s Spring flowering Magenta Pink Flowers

- Achillea Millefolium Red Velvet – you pop this in a full sun position in moist well drained soil

Great Dixter is based at Northiam, near Rye. So if you are staying at The Mermaid, it’s a must visit.

For further information see www.greatdixter.co.uk

Or call 01797 254044, or go to Great Dixter, Northiam, Rye, East Sussex TN31 6PH

If you are visiting Chapel Down Vineyards, go to Great Dixter first, then call into Chapel Down and book a taxi home. On this occasion we ended up at The George in Robertsbridge.

This is a fine Coaching Inn, run by John and Jane Turner.  See more at www.thegeorgerobertsbridge.co.uk or call Jane at 01580 880315. The food is excellent, there is a very fine Argentinian Malbec on the wine list, and you have to leave room for the deserts as they are just brilliant!

For more information about Great Dixter call Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820.

It’s March and the garden beckons

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
After one of the wettest winter periods on record we all look forward to March with a little prayer that the weather might improve for us gardeners.
At the time of writing Sarah and I have just returned from a very pleasant walk with Basil our dog, around the grounds of Burrswood, Groombridge. It was heartening to see that the daffs were starting to appear and the snowdrops were out, so maybe Spring is not that far away! Visit the Crown on the Green. You will be welcomed by a very friendly landlord, and if you are lucky the dog will get a treat!

Before we journey outside, I wanted to share with you some photographs of Amaryllis that have been appearing on our Gardenproud Facebook page. We gave a number of our friends Amaryllis bulbs for Christmas and pictures have been flooding in of their progress, so we have posted some of these on our Facebook page. Interest in the progress has come from a number of people, including would you believe Judi Cohen from New Jersey, USA – the wonders of social media! Judy sent us some amazing photographs of her Amaryllis. Her secret to creating wonderful flower heads is to restrict the soil content of the pot. I put the bulb in very little soil, forcing the action away from the roots and into the bloom.” So a tip to remember for 2015.

March is always a good time to be attacking the moss on your lawns, and boy have I seen a lot moss around the gardens of Tunbridge Wells recently! So a good scarifying, followed by a feed could help give the lawn a bit of a lift before the growing season gets a hold. If the lawn is particularly bad you may need to aerate the surface and give it a top dressing and over seeding. Watch the temperature though, because your seeds won’t germinate in cold weather.
Cotswold Grass seeds who are one of the leading suppliers recommend “Soil temperatures needs to be in excess of 4°C, usually late February in Southern UK, two weeks days later in the North. The optimum soil temperature for seeds to start chitting is 7-10°C which is usually reached by mid – late March across the UK.”
One of the things you are going to have to watch (as soon as the temperature rises) is weeds. Last year we had quite a wet start to the year and the weeds grew like mad. So given this years dose of rain you’ll need to get on top of the bed maintenance pdq.
Here a few additional thoughts on March from our friends at RHS:
1. Remove dead foliage, weed and top dress pots and containers with fresh compost
2. Protect new spring shoots from slugs
3. Divide overgrown clumps of perennials
4. Start mowing the lawn, as the weather becomes drier
If you have a vegetable garden then now’s the time to plant out your shallots, onion sets and early potatoes. When the ground is suitable you can plant new fruits, including raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries and blackcurrants ( lots of fruit plants like a free draining, acidic soil, so it maybe sensible to check the pH levels and then mix in horticultural grit, with a good ericaceous compost).
If you haven’t done it already remember to prune your apple and pear trees before the first leaves start to break.
Whilst things will be hotting up in the garden, March is also a great time to be tweaking the beds for your summer borders. Think about the effect you want to achieve, the relative heights of plants, or bulbs once they are established, then look at the borders and decide which of your existing plants you want to keep. It’s also a good idea to have a colour palette in mind. The trend is towards more focused palettes, which I like. So you might mix lilacs, violets, blues, creams and whites, but avoid yellows, pinks and oranges. You’ll be able to select your summer flowering bulbs from the local nurseries.
All of the local ones have a great choice, but you can also find an excellent selection on the J.Parker’s website www.dutchbulbs.co.uk If you prefer a catalogue, then call them on, 0161 848 1124

Finally, another date for all your diaries! Don’t miss the Tulip Festival at Pashley Manor this year! It starts on April 23rd. Entrance is £10 and the festival runs until 5th May. This year will mark their 20th Anniversary, so I’m sure the displays will be stunning. Don’t miss the restaurant, so time your visit around lunchtime!
I hope you enjoy your garden this March.
For further information please contact Tim Sykes, at Gardenproud 07725 173820, or at info@reallygardenproud.com

Happy New Year from View

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

View is the quarterly update from Gardenproud on what’s new in the garden.

The new 2014 edition is out now. You can order a copy in the post, or via email. Just send an email request to info@reallygardenproud.com

In this quarter’s edition are Gardening Tips, 2013 Highlights from Gardenproud, some ideas for Window Boxes, details of our latest Equipment updates – of special interest to the demands of larger gardens, our latest recruit, and news of our latest Design Projects.

A Contemporary Garden in Mayfield

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

A short while ago we were lucky enough to be handed the challenge that a lot of landscapers would relish. A blank canvas. Well nearly. A new contemporary housing development close to Tunbridge Wells that didn’t offer it’s customers a ready made garden solution. So music to our ears!

The garden had a very poor quality lawn that ran into a clay slope featuring a number of decaying trees. One redeeming feature was the stunning view that led across fields to woodland and hills beyond and this was something the customer wanted to enhance. In addition to this our client wanted to create a level lawned area their growing family could enjoy, plus an adult/entertaining area that would allow them to enjoy the sun and the view.

We created a series of design options for the client that achieved their goals and worked with the contemporary nature of the house. This was a joint design exercise between Gardenproud designers Tim Sykes and Paula Beresford.

Our first task was to gain permission to undertake some urgent tree works, which was duly approved. Then we set upon tweaking the landscape to provide the client with their level lawn area, and to enhance the garden shape which would allow us to progress the rest of our scheme.

The upper garden has as its focal point a beautiful oak tree, sitting in the centre of a new oval lawn. Bordering it’s sides are herbacious borders with two stunning zinc coated garden benches facing each other.

A circular tree bench surrounds the oak tree.

To take account of the drop in levels and to reflect the curves of the tree seat and oval lawn, a curved wall was created with two flights of steps leading to a lower, less formal garden area.

This lower garden flows into the woodland below and will feature planting that integrates with the more natural surroundings beyond. The lower garden is also the setting for a decking entertainment area and woodland pathways leading to a lower circular platform. These lower pathways and platform use a bark surface, again designed to merge with the woodland environment.

The decking surface floats on a subframe which appears almost at ground level, but is two steps below the upper pathway.

A new curved sleeper wall creates an interesting addition to the decking surface and supports a narrow side bed.

The decking surface leads to two stepped bark pathways that lead to a lower platform.

Pre-planting the whole scheme is really starting to come together and already represents a dramatic transformation to suit the contemporary surroundings….

The finished result is stunning and we hope will give the client many years enjoyment. We look forward to the next stage which will involve the planting scheme.

For further details of Gardenproud’s design capability and landscaping services please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820

Don’t throw away your old ride on, race it instead!

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Don’t throw away your old ride on, race it instead, says Tim Sykes of Gardenproud.

My son Harry and I were treated to the whole new world of lawn mower racing yesterday .

We’ve got an old ride on which we’ve been wondering what to do with for sometime and by chance we heard about the British Lawn Mower Racing Association from our local equipment supplier in Tunbridge Wells.

We checked out their website www.blmra.co.uk and found it to be a very lively organisation.

Yesterday they were running a 12 hour endurance race at Five Oaks, West Sussex. So we packed the camera and turned on the Sat Nav and headed out to find out as much as possible about this exciting new sport.

Click on this video link  IMG_9226

Click on this video link  IMG_9227

There was no problem finding the event as apart from the wonders of Sat Nav the AA had helped signpost the way. Once at Five Oaks, West Sussex the race circuit was well laid out and marshalled. It was £5 a head to get in and there were refreshment tents, souvenir tents. Everything you’d expect at a properly organised event. Various people had taken their tents so they could camp out and stay with the race as it hurtled through the night.

We watched the timed trails. These took place in the afternoon from 3.15pm. To the layman these looked just like the race although I suspect the actual thing is more competitive and pretty hairy during the night. You will be surprised to see just how fast these machines zoo round the grass tracks, often spinning round corners on just 2 wheels! The drivers wear all the kit too. So they are as safe as can be, plus look the part. At first sight the racing mowers look a bit heath robinson, but on closer inspection have been souped up to carrier round the tracks.

There are 3 main types of racing machine:

Group 3 and Group 4  both use 13.5 hp engines and these include vehicles that look like tuned mini tractors, and other lower gravity machines that are more reminiscent of go-karts than mowers. Anyway I’m assured they were mowers once upon a time! Actually they have to have been, otherwise you wouldn’t be allowed to race them.

The third category I really loved. This is Group 2. These machines started out life as cylinder or roller based machines, but they now look more like a cross between an old fashioned bob sleigh and a cricket mower. The cylinder contraption sits in front and tows a small chariot on which the driver sits. They lie low on the track and no doubt take some handling, but look the business!

For the endurance race you need a team of drivers. Plus a skilled team of mechanics and lots of spare parts. The pitstop area was arranged just like a Formula One area, with teams stopping off for essential repairs and driver changes.

The BLMRA was founded in 1973 by a bunch of beer drinking enthusiasts in Wisborough Green. They hold a number of events each year including a Grand Prix, National and World Championships, plus a 12 hour Endurance Race. Apart from the UK events have been held in Ireland, France, Luxembourg and USA.

Lawn Mower Racing has attracted all manner of drivers including some of the greatest such as Stirling Moss ( who I was once very privileged to share the cockpit of a Lola with – very scary) and Derek Bell – the UK’s greatest Le Mans winner. Both of whom have won the 12 hour endurance race twice!

So if you take this up you’d be in great company.

Well after yesterday we are thinking  very seriously about starting a Gardenproud Racing Team during the 2014 season.

Let me know if you have a ride-on mower you might like to donate to us.

Contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820 at Gardenproud, or go to the BLMRA website if you would like further information.