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Bring on the show!

Our Hampton Court show garden got its first proper slice of publicity this week, with the publication of the June edition of Kent Life.

Stuart and I were really delighted with the coverage the magazine gave to our garden, which celebrates the heritage and regeneration of the former Betteshanger Colliery site in east Kent. It’s a great plug for the garden we have designed for Hadlow College, and of course brilliant publicity for us as we set off into the world of self-employment.cover kent life green seam 150dpikent life green seam 150dpiThis is going to be a busy week for Stuart and I. We both have our interviews with the external examiners at Greenwich tomorrow, Wednesday is a day of driving to various plant nurseries to finalise our orders for the garden and then Thursday is press launch day at Betteshanger, with a radio interview at Hadlow in the afternoon. I’m accustomed to being the interviewer from my former career as a journalist, and I’m finding it very uncomfortable being on the “other side”. I’m not a natural public speaker or interviewee, but I guess this is all good practise for getting better at it. Certainly, the past year at Greenwich has helped with that – we’ve been repeatedly made to stand up and present our work to our peers and lecturers over the past two terms, and I have progressed from be rendered almost unable to speak, to actually feeling able to stand up and say at least SOMETHING. And I’m starting to get the message that I probably think I am worse at it than other people do, after the external critics told me I gave “a good presentation” the other week (this despite me initially saying that the naval pensioners buried at Greenwich had fought with Nelson at the Battle of Waterloo….doh, that was the other guy! At least I corrected myself!)

Anyway, onwards towards Hampton Court 2015. The build begins second week of June and we are looking forward to being joined by some of our fellow students to carry out the massive task of planting in the final week before judging, which is 29th June.

Then, maybe, some sleep…

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e-portfolio uploaded

Our FINAL piece of assessed work for the degree was to create an e-portfolio of the work from our final design project and upload it to the issuu publishing platform.

We were given a limit of 8 hours in which to create a maximum 25-page profile document, which seemed pretty stingy when it came down to it. We were supposed to communicate the concept of our design through the design of the portfolio. My main concept theme was ‘connective’ so I attempted to use a series of linked circle images to communicate connectivity.

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I’m not convinced it works! But I’m pretty happy, given the time limit…

Two of my other themes were community and productive-growing, and, because my design included a number beehives on the green roof of the community centre, I thought bees (which live in communities) might make a neat link between the two. Again, with more time it could have been more effectively executed – ideally I would have liked to have made some of the pages in Photoshop, instead of just creating the artwork in InDesign, which isn’t ideal.

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I looked at a number of Landscape Architecture portfolios on issuu (which is a brilliant site) and was mindful that I wanted mine to look more like a garden designer’s portfolio, as that is what I hope to do.

Anyway, here is my completed portfolio:

Meanwhile, in other news…

I realise I need to update the blog on the completion (almost) of my degree work. But in the meantime I seem to have segued straight into Hampton Court show preparation.


We’ve got a lot to get sorted in the next few weeks, not least sourcing the rest of the plants. Spent the afternoon roughly quantifying plants, by creating a grid for the area we need to cover. It’s a tricky job because a show garden needs to be very well-covered in plants, so it is really not like creating a plan for a conventional garden. It’s all going to be very dependent on sizes we can get too, as some of the ‘wild’ (read ‘weeds’ to most nurseries!) are proving difficult to get hold of…

Anyway, the plan I made was absolutely not to show how the plants will be set out (other than the trees and Ilex crenata domes) – that will be done largely by eye on site. It was purely an exercise to work out some quantities.


Running in circles…

I have at last got on to putting the planting plans for my 1:50 area into AutoCAD – A BIG job, as it’s packed with plants (no surprise to anyone who knows me!)


The resultant pretty coloured circles help me understand what is what, but it won’t look half so attractive once it is all ratified and printed as a black and white A1 sheet. Annotation is going to be fun…thank goodness for InDesign.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 12.27.25After this, it’s on to all the other technical drawings…not my favourite part!

Design Detail sketches

Going pretty well so far, but really up against the clock now. Not going to be much sleep over the next couple of nights I fear. This is the first time I’ve used full-on Photoshop render for sketches, but I wanted to do it for the Design Detail stage to really show the planting – it would take me hours to hand sketch the plants…However, I may need to change tactic for some of them in order to get finished. Will see how it goes…

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And another section…

Second Design Detail section completed. I love doing sections – just wish I had more time…Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 12.23.22Looks like Aidan Turner has wandered into my park. Not sure how that happened…


Not really time to write much, but here’s the first of my 1:50 sections completed. Really happy with how it’s turned out.

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Right, now on to the next one…

Sections, Nurofen and probable vitamin D deficiency…

So this is my life now. I live at my desk, rarely experiencing direct sunlight, intravenously hooked up to a constant supply of tea and staving off back ache with handfuls of Nurofen. Doing 1:50 sections and worrying that I’m not going to be finished for Monday’s final pin-up…there’s still a looooong way to go. And after Monday, two more weeks for all the technical stuff, planting plans, books, etc etc…

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 16.51.13I did just come across this beautiful picture (by Tselos Elias ) of some Digitalis ferruginea growing wild in Greece. It’s one of my park plants, but it’s so much lovelier to see it growing in its native environment. And a timely reminder of why I’m actually putting myself through this.


Rendering Olympics

I had to step away from the Photoshop rendering the other day. Someone was going to get hurt. Probably me. My bloated 5.9GB (Yes, read it and weep – 5.9GB!) Photoshop file was in danger of crashing the Mac and taking me down with it. So I quickly merged a few layers to get the size down and tucked the drawing up in a desktop folder for a bit of a lie-down…

In the meantime, I concentrated my efforts on sketch work at the board, discovering in the process that I did indeed still have legs and I could just about stand up. The sketching was less than successful. Passable is probably the kindest analysis I can give that particular task…Then I did a couple of A1s which were mainly about photographs and analysis. Hopefully these will suffice – but it’s difficult to tell. The brief seems to wander somewhat…

And today, I finally came back to the 1:50 plan, with renewed vigour. Well no, I exaggerate. Definitely not anything as energetic as vigour, but gritted teeth and a determination to get the bugger finished, yes.

Here’s a little snippet of planting, shadows and stuff.

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I think I’m pleased with it. I will be more pleased when the final touches are there (like the shadows for the Taxus wave hedges which I have been fearing and avoiding) and I can get on to annotating it and uploaded and out to the printers.

Today was supposed to be planting plans and construction drawings tutorials day with J and J. But given that I am catching up and following Jamie’s instructions to concentrate on presentation work for the 27th and that I don’t actually have any tech drawings at this stage, I decided to forego the trip to Greenwich and stay at home and plough on. Surely I will catch up at some point. Surely. I feel like I’ve been chasing my tail forever…

Next up: Sections. Yay!

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