Category: Planting Design & Procurement

great field 01

volunteers 01

The Great Field of the Forty Hall Estate contains the archaeological remains of the Tudor dynasty’s Elsynge Palace, and is a listed Ancient Scheduled Monument.

Whilst conservation officer for a year I undertook ecological surveys of the site and with the help of numerous volunteers ranging from Duke of Edinburgh participants, local schools, to the wonderful Enfield Conservation Volunteers we were able to initiate site maintenance after a long pause in active management.

Enhancements and reinstatement of traditional management included new pollard planting, demonstrations of traditional hurdle construction, re-pollard existing willows around two dew ponds and removal of invasive alien Rhododendron ponticum.

Bat boxes, insect shelters, log piles and hedgehog shelters were also created by volunteers and placed around the site.

The lime tree avenue, arranged on an alignment that paralleled the numerous historic rides on adjacent Enfield Chase was enhanced by raising the canopy and removing basal suckers, as undertaken by a dedicated group of vulnerable adults and community volunteers.

volunteers 02

mykonos 01

These images from Greenway’s website show the scheme I designed in 2003/4, and planted in 2004 at maturity. The vegetation reflects endemic and native plant communities representing sclerophyllic, maquis and garigue groups as found on the Aghios Lazarus peninsula and throughout the Cyclades. This project was the largest habitat creation/ enhancement scheme associated with  the 2004 Olympic Games.

garden design march 04

A generous site for a new build property and great brief: full-on TROPICAL ! I can’t wait to build this one as the planting palette selection includes many tropical-looking yet hardy ornamentals, and a few tender sub-tropicals which will be over-wintered in the heated glasshouse.

 

The bespoke garden gate and outdoor kitchen as designed will involve different local artisans.

fenland habitat predrainage rivers

As a landscape architecture student (in 1996), I proposed an ecological buffer zone, short rotation willow and poplar coppice, renewable energy and pastoral land use change around the existing fenland nature reserves of Wood Walton Fen and Holme Fen.

My tutors criticised the project suggesting such a large scale project: reverting hundreds of acres of grade I agricultural land to ecological and pastoral land use was unlikely to be an economic reality, and questioned ‘ecological buffer’ theory.

Years later whilst living abroad I was intrigued to hear of the Great Fen Project: linking hundreds of acres of arable fen land around the above mentioned nature reserves as a managed wetland pasture.

The black and white aerial photograph shows the ‘ghosts’ of fenland rivers as silt alluvial deposits in the peat fen, with rectilinear field boundaries of drainage ditches imposed on the landscape.

The black and white image of a large post and two ‘fen tigers’ from the inter-war years, shows the shrinkage of the peat fens through oxidation of the peat and removal of water. The top of the post was ground level in the Victorian era- the post being a column from the Great Exhibition hammered into Holme Fen to record the then ‘ground level’.

Planting Zebra bed

mykonos 09 towards helipadMy earliest memory is growing a runner bean from seed at kindergarten.This sprouting bean started my life-long passion of plants.

Since building my first greenhouse and tending to my first vegetable patch aged six, I have been designing with plants and am fortunate, truly fortunate, to have practiced my passion around the globe.

I consider inspiration gained from observing natural vegetation communities and an understanding of vertical stratification, plant tolerance ranges, behaviour and symbiosis hold the future for sustainable planting schemes for our gardens, communal landscapes and degraded habitats.

 

Huntingdon Garden & Leisure 02

Whilst manager of the landscape division at Huntingdon Garden & Leisure I assisted in the design and planting of this site, the largest garden centre in England.

Mature trees were imported from Deepdale Nurseries.

tko 86 model

This masterplanning project by Belt Collins (HK) Ltd was for the podium landscape of a new train station and mixed use development.

HK Uni lectures 01

The Head of Hong Kong University’s Landscape Architecture department requested I join the staff in a part-time role as Assistant Professor.

Students generously voted me best lecturer for the planting design module which I taught to both year groups of the two year MLA course over 26 months.

A mixture of lectures (two series of six lectures), workshops, design reviews, model making and examinations increased the students breadth and detailed knowledge of plant physiolgy, evolution, application in design, growth behaviour and management.

The lectures also covered the history of landscape design in Europe, the Middle East and Far East with case studies based on my own sites and previous projects.

 

Lagoons District 8 lighthouse beacon

lagoon01aerMy first mega-project, The Lagoons masterplan covered 540 hectares of mixed use. The international design competition was won by Urbis Hong Kong Limited and I joined the company as Senior Landscape Architect and Project Manager.

Within a few months I had relocated to Dubai to set up the company’s Dubai branch office and was later joined by a growing professional team of designers and project managers.

Adjacent to the site lies the Ras Al Khor wildlife sanctuary; an artificially enhanced, semi-natural habitat; home to migratory flamingos and other Arabian wildlife.

I had the privilege of compiling flora and target fauna species lists, designing geophysical modelling for ecological function, recommending endemic plant species for conservation and writing a working paper with Mr. Sandy Duggie on the unique procurement strategy to be followed.

Our working papers and recommendations were accepted by the developer, Sama Dubai, the Dubai Municipality (Environmental Department), RAMSAR, WWT consultants and endorsed by a UNESCO scientist.

The project had progressed from concept design to tender, with quay walls constructed on the site creating artificial islands that were intended to be flooded with waters from the Dubai Creek… until the recession arrived, resulting in the project being placed on hold.

I sincerely hope that one day this project is fully implemented. The ecological improvements to the reserve’s buffer zone, and introduction of endemic plant species to the commercially available palette for the Gulf coast has potential to greatly enhance the ecological function of the area whilst preserving biodiversity.

The working papers I authored recommended artificial coral reef creation, the creation of Islamic art inspired salt sculptures which would utilise and neuralise the hyper saline impounded Gulf waters, and the creation of a living soil by harvesting and growing various fungi that form a symbiotic relationship with plants, reducing their stress and increasing water and nutrient absorption.

Target species

mykonos 12 hrh villa

From original survey work of mesotrophic grasslands in East Anglia, to Mangrove Surveys in the Arabian Gulf to studying vegetation communities in the Cyclades, ecological surveying and ecologically functioning planting design have been important in my career from school student to professional.

I always incorporate shelters for wildlife in my garden and landscape designs, and wherever possible incorporate endemic, locally sourced plant species.

Sadly a great deal of scientific literature is ignored by landscape design professionals, and so often the same mistakes are repeated time and again, such as ignoring edaphic (soil) factors and the importance of geophysical modelling in softscape and hardscape specification as well as species selection.

I also consider that ecological improvements implemented through public landscape design and management need to be advertised to the guest or visitor through interpretation and educational awareness. Without fostering a demand for such enhancements, little will be supplied.