Well, October was a long time ago! I’ve been a little too busy with design and consultation projects, as well as my Head Gardener duties to update the website - I suppose that’s a good thing!
I had a great week in Fenwick this month, meeting new customers and contacts. And on the home front, finally finding time to complete our front garden transformation. From ugly concrete yard to a lively planted space full of seasonal interest. It largely looks after itself - no sweeping required and not really any weeding, due to the bark mulch I put round the plants after planting last autumn. Much less maintenance and so much prettier - and a small habitat for wildlife too!
I’m delighted to have been awarded a week’s trading in the Spring 2019 at Fenwick Colchester. This was the result of a competition run by Colbea - the Colchester Business Enterprise Association. I’m looking toward to my week in store next spring, where I’ll be available to answer garden questions and meet new customers. Can’t wait!
Being rewarded with the fruits of your labour - literally - is very nice. The vine I’ve tended throughout the season has produced wonderful fruit, which my lovely clients are sharing with me.
This year’s visit to The Landscape Show was a great opportunity to catch up with friends in the industry, make new contacts and talk to suppliers about the newest products out there. Lots of design inspiration!
The Beth Chatto Symposium was THE horticultural event of the year. Right on our doorstep - Essex really is the place to be! With the most up to date research and discussion on how to put plants together in sustainable communities for maximum beauty and minimal maintenance. Fascinating
This month has been fun - dabbling in a bit of garden film making, with film maker Paul Hart. It’s part of a wider project with other garden creatives - more of that after the official launch! Here is a link to my YouTube channel Kate Cox Gardens
Of course gardening, consultancy and design have continued as usual... and I’m finally getting to grips with my own front garden - removing the horrible concrete pad and replacing with planting and an attractive path. Watch this space!
Early starts to get garden maintenance completed before the mid-day heat characterised July- the best way to make the most of the day!
Gardening tutorials have been fantastic this summer. It’s so satisfying encouraging new gardeners to get active and feel independent in their gardens (not wanting to make gardeners redundant of course!)
I had the opportunity to meet former kidnappee Tom Hart Dyke, visiting his fascinating World Garden at Lullingstone Castle. A total plant fanatic and a brilliant raconteur, Tom entertained and educated us with tales of his plant hunting adventures and unplanned time while held hostage by bandits in the Colombian jungle. Handy tip: talking at length to your captors about their indigenous flora can encourage an early release
I let my lawn turn to straw (it’s approaching lushness again since the rain returned) saving precious water for the plants in pots. Summer dormancy is a part of grass’s survival mechanism... you can bypass it if a fine turf lawn is a priority for you, with lots of watering, but if you have a more relaxed attitude, don’t worry, it will green up again.
Alongside normal business this month I am joining the team at Hampton Court constructing the Battlefields to Butterflies commemorative garden for the show. The garden starts out in the trenches with blasted trees and rubble, before snaking paths lead you into regenerated meadow with poppies and new life. Last week the meadow turf had only been down a fortnight and already damsel flies and butterflies were moving in.
Hampton Court let me loose with their vegetables! Here is the veg plot I planted for my imaginary soldiers. Neat ordered rows of nourishing vegetables - a contrast to the chaos surrounding them.
I also had a great morning at John Cullen lighting, finding out about their product ranges for outdoor lighting and picking up expert tips on creating the most beautiful lighting designs
A busy month of gardening, consultations, design and plant ordering, but I also managed to squeeze in a Roman holiday.
This pretty thing growing in the Roman forum is a caper plant
Planting started at the new Willow Room garden at the Beth Chatto Gardens
The big exciting news of the year (so far) is that I have been working on a wonderful planting design project with Wendy Smith, The Plantsmith, creating a new planting scheme at the Beth Chatto gardens. Wendy and I are both long term volunteers at the gardens. A couple of years back we were let loose on the pot display outside the shop, which we couldn't quite believe, but then we were invited to get creative in the actual (new bit of) the garden.
Its going to be a long term gradually evolving project with scope for the whole volunteer team to make changes and additions to the plant communities within the scheme as part of their development as gardeners, while the structural elements of key shrubs and perennial masses Wendy and I specified will remain. A fantastic project and such an honour to contribute in such a way to Beth's beautiful gardens.
It’s over a year away, but Spring next year I’ll be participating in a lovely local event, Little Bentley village show, producing a Show Garden to inspire visitors with ideas for their gardens. I’ve started planning already...
I shall be away from the UK for the first two weeks of March - combining business with pleasure! A week in Singapore visiting family and exploring the incredible Gardens by the Bay, botanical gardens and other horticultural delights, then a week in Japan, exploring traditional Japanese gardens in Kyoto, seeing something of the countryside before a visit to Tokyo - catching up with old friends and experiencing the sensory overload of the city. I plan to eat my body weight in sushi. It will be Ume season - plum blossom, with perhaps the first hint of cherry
And I’m back! Bursting with ideas and reactions and new experiences... my predictions about the blossom were correct but I hadn’t expected the Ume to smell quite so beautiful!
I’ll be posting photo albums on my Border Designs business Facebook page in due course and will be writing up my thoughts via my blog on my experiences. But here is the main take away from my travels: incredible gardens, outstanding horticulture don’t happen without investment in design, the plants and materials and maintenance. Singapore is run by a government who have prioritised horticulture - with around 80% home ownership and few social problems they can afford to invest in the dream of turning Singapore into ‘a city in a garden.’ The results are staggering in terms of technology, aesthetic and the high quality of maintenance - a paradise to a person like me whose stated aim is to ‘bring life and beauty’ to gardens. Marina Bay Sands has a roof garden on the 55th floor. I saw a dragonfly up there. There is external planting on every floor all the way to the top - a wildlife corridor that works.
Japan has some wonderful plants - many of which are old friends in British gardens. It has a rich, fascinating history and incredible artistry in all areas of culture, including topiary and garden design. However outside the main tourist preserved sites the current culture is very much about the new, the shiny, the modern - beautiful old red bridges replaced by black plastic, tiny little front garden planters where life struggles on... yet the scent of Daphne even in these horticulturally impoverished spaces was exquisite. It is all about priorities - what do people want to spend their money on? For me, Tokyo was a challenge to feel comfortable until I got to Meiji jingu shrine and saw some of the most beautiful trees - one of which was sacred. The feeling of walking into a lush green woodland in the middle of that barren city was one of intense relief - a very physical reaction of relaxation and deeper breathing. I knew I loved plants, but I hadn’t realised quite how vital they were to my well being until that moment!
Anyway, here are couple of photos to be going on with
With a tiny break between Christmas and New Year winter has progressed full steam with pruning, digging up unwanted rose suckers and tired old shrubs (the ground is so soft here in some of my Essex/Suffolk border gardens just now, they just slide out of the ground!) and planning planning planning to fill those gaps.
Its been a joy to find already that buds are swelling, birds are singing and spring is certainly in the air.
The tiny bit of snow we had, much as I loved it, rather ruined the beautiful Piet Oudolf-esque effect of winter grass and seed heads in one of my gardens. Flattened grass isn't pretty, so chop chop chop - but next year's growth was already in evidence, so that's OK
Rivenhall now have their plan for the new school wildlife garden. The children's involvement at the site analysis and design stage has resulted in some lovely ideas that us adults hadn't considered: a 'hill for watching sheep' and an outdoor stage. Sadly the school decided not to go with the zipwire idea (understandably!) but I hope the children will be very proud of their new outdoor area, and, once they get involved with constructing minibeast habitats and planting in the spring, I'm sure they'll take care of it.
This project brought home to me the truth of what I already believed: that giving clients, no matter how old they are, the opportunity to really think about what they want and share their ideas at the outset will result in the most satisfying outcomes
One last thing, which is still under wraps, but soon to be made proper news... I have been asked to co-lead an extremely exciting design project with fellow garden designer Wendy Smith. This is a 'pinch myself I must be dreaming' project and we are both ridiculously excited about it! More details to follow once everything is concrete... but here is a sneaky peak at part of the initial site survey drawing I produced from our measuring up morning:
Autumn has whizzed by in a haze of plans coming to fruition, lorries of plants arriving, lists being checked and borders being planted. Fantastic!
I've still had time to maintain my lovely clients' gardens (but rather neglect my own) and have had some fantastic Designer Development Days and Networking opportunities with movers and shakers in the wider industry:
September Blog post: A Day in The Life of A Gardener (a little hymn to the joys of garden maintenance)
September Already? The greatly fanfared blog is still waiting for me to sit still for a minute, the problem will be deciding what to write about as it's been such a busy and interesting summer. Garden maintenance work has been hugely satisfying, getting some really beautiful gardens under control. Design projects are gearing up for the planting stage so busy times ensuring ground is prepared and orders are on schedule.
My personal plant collection has reached ridiculous proportions - thinking of ways to create more space is fun
Industry events have been really enjoyable - from an illuminating and inspiring symposium at Majestic Trees to The Landscape Show in London. Connecting with other professionals in the wider industry - it's great to see developments in vertical wall technology and develop a deeper understanding of the strength and porosity of different paving materials from specialists in the field.
I'm halfway through a course 'Planting The Piet Oudolph Way' assessed by the one and only Noel Kingsbury. There's some familiar stuff there, but enough new nuggets to make it a useful thing to do - so anyone wanting a Dutch Wave perennial border, get in touch!
And finally, I'll leave you with a pretty picture. During a brief holiday to the Lake District I visited Lowther Castle to see the relatively new work of one of my favourite planting designers, Dan Pearson. Enjoy
New Blog The Border Designs blog has arrived. Give it some time. At present there is a test welcome haiku of dubious quality. New blog post notifications will be published on the Border Designs Facebook Page as they emerge
June has been a wonderful time of growth for Border Designs, along with the plants!
I've been rather too busy to update the website as I've been occupied with planting design work, horticultural consulting - from private gardens to school grounds, and of course, lots of lovely gardening in some beautiful spaces.
My SGD membership has been fantastic as I'm meeting lots of great designers and broadening my knowledge - a recent course on construction detailing has shown me how interesting hard landscaping and construction can be, and how much you need to know before you undertake construction jobs.
I've managed to squeeze in some garden visits - Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court this month, as well as a brilliant day at the Chelsea Flower Show. Looking forward to July.
My First Article Published for Thinkingardens www.thinkingardens.co.uk
A blog created by Author and Garden Maker, Anne Wareham 'For people who want more than gardening from gardens.
Read my ruminations on garden design: 'What Style?' by Kate Cox
So excited to announce that I have been accepted as a Pre-Registered Member of the Society of Garden Designers
As THE professional association in the U.K. for garden designers, the standards are extremely high. As a new designer I've got to get a few more designs under my
belt before there's sufficient evidence for full registered membership. I'm looking forward to meeting lots of other designers and landscapers, sharing tips and training. Exciting times ahead!
NEW FOR 2017 - GARDENING COACHING with Kate from Border Designs
Prices start from £120 for a half day session
Spring is here, the sap is rising, now is the time to get back out there
If you need a bit of guidance on what jobs you need doing to make your garden gorgeous this year, or a bit of company to make the work more fun, get in touch and we can work out a plan!
If you get the opportunity pay a visit to some Winter gardens this month. I have had a wonderful visit to Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge this month and came away really inspired for new planting ideas. Visit my Border Designs facebook page to see the full photo album.
New Planting Design at Firstsite, Colchester
So excited to have been asked to re-design the planting outside Colchester's Firstsite gallery. The original planting is long gone and the empty bark enclosure is not a worthy fit for the fabulous construction or the gorgeous neighbouring Minories garden.
I'm looking forward to selecting beautiful hardy low maintenance plants suited to the varied conditions of the site - from hot sun-baked to deep shade, robust enough to thrive in a busy public space.
Photo: East Anglian Daily Times
Border Designs is making a guest appearance on The Honey Hunter blog, as featured in In Style Magazine
Visit www.honeyhunter.uk for my top tips on supporting honey bees and for suggestions of flowering plants that will provide pollen and nectar for honey bees throughout the year
All images Copyright Kate Cox unless otherwise stated