Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Things are looking pretty interesting...

The very interesting steel cut panels from the French company Ambellya have been with us for a week or so.  Now the guys have finished off a few bits like the paving etc. they are ready to start installing these custom made decorative panels.

Ian and Russ worked pretty hard at making sure they didn't squash the new plants that Sally and Kevin had put in.

There were a few comments from the usual suspects that walk through the gardens on a daily basis about the colour of the panels, of course, most of them came from men - who referred to it as "Puce" and worse - they are not in touch with their feminine sides obviously.  One was quite restrained saying" it's not what I would've chosen..."

And I can see now when Sally's planting is zinging along with it, it looks fab...

In fact this picture made me laugh when I saw it and thought of colours working together - or not.  Here's Steve from maintenance captured in a rare sunny moment, you probably need some shades on for this one!

Meanwhile Tropical is coming along too.

Cue another plant delivery from Palmstead. Suatali got them here nice and early and we had a day of heavy rain forecast.  I'm beginning to get some strange feelings about the "tropical stormy" nature of the's getting a bit Rain-foresty here.

Well despite the conditions we managed to get stuck in and the plants start giving the garden an interesting jungly feel.

I think that in the end Margaret, Jane and Annie were enjoying themselves!

And the sun came out again! - what a difference that makes.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Post Chelsea Flower Show report

Last time on the blog, I mentioned I'd be off to chelsea before I blogged again, so I thought it would be nice to give you a little report of what I saw there.

We were delighted to be asked to supply some of our Venetian fencing and one of our lovely Retreats for RHS Chelsea flower show this year.

They are in Chris Webb’s Sculpture garden, right near one of the entrances to the Grand Pavilion, as you can see in the photo above.  The garden was basking in the late evening sun when I arrived to see it.  

Which was quite different from the weather leading up to the show.  Liz Brewer, the garden designer responsible for the creating the planting in the Sculpture garden, sent several tweets, thanking us for supplying the Retreat with its polycarbonate roof, under which, she ‘beat a hasty retreat’ (pardon the pun!) to escape from, not only torrential rain, but hailstones as well!

Her Majesty, The Queen was just coming down Main Avenue as I turned into it, so I couldn’t resist trying to get a photo of her and her entourage as they viewed the large show gardens.

I had a really good look around and took loads of photos of the show gardens, and a few of the great and the good, wielding their obligatory champagne flutes and enjoying the wonderful sun drenched scenery. 

One garden, in particular made a real impression on me  - I was stunned at the loveliness of Matthew Keightley’s Help for Heroes garden, which was only yards away from the Sculpture garden. 

He was very kind and allowed me to go inside the garden (which is usually not allowed) so I could get up close and personal with some of the most wonderful views of his planting. There are many more pics of this and many other gardens, in the gallery.

I caught up with some of our old friends; Matt Childs, in his Brewin Dolphin Garden  and Helen Elks-Smith two our previous Jacksons Show Gardens Design competition winners, who both had show gardens at Chelsea this year.

I must say this was one of the most memorable trips to Chelsea that I have made in recent years. 

It was a welcome interlude to the very busy schedule of building our own Show Gardens here at Jacksons to get them ready for our Opening on 31st May.

Friday, 16 May 2014

We've made great progress this last week...

We've moved on massively this week, you will see the paving started going in.  I've so many photos that I will have to just stick a photo in with a short comment, or I will never catch up!

Here you can see we've started laying the paving block, it looks wonderful.

Laying Paving Blocks

Ian and James have pain-stakingly levelled and then cut the blocks -I can't believe how accurate and detailed it has to be.

New paving

As you can see we're nearly there.  Meanwhile Ashley from our maintenance dept. has "volunteered" to tackle the water feature in Sally's garden.  He's found a novel way of making sure he doesn't get in Ian's way when he's laying the paving...

New Show Garden
he gets in the trough!

New water trough

James has taken on getting the old bench out of the Tropical garden and is now digging out the concrete that's left from its foundations..

Removing Bench Foundations

And more movement in the Tropical garden, Russ has got the lattice trellis panels in to the pergola, I think  it looks really good like that now.

New Lattice Trellis Fence Panels

It's a new day, today some of our plants arrive from Palmstead

Palmstead Nurseries Lorry

Yes we have no bananas!

Tropical Garden progress

And now the plants have arrived, so have our designers to start their planting.

Garden Designers at work

Smile for the camera ladies, I'm sending this one to the Garden Design Journal, for their news section in the June issue.

I'll catch with you after Monday, when I visit Chelsea Flower show, it will be great to see how things are there and here when I get back.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Moving forward in leaps and bounds....

The team, Ian Day, James, Russ and Duncan were ready and raring to go, by the look of them!

Ian Day worked on the show gardens 2 years ago and was primarily responsible for the build of Natural Reflections by Alison Coxhead, one of our 2012 winners. He also did a lot of the work on the other gardens and we were so impressed by his diligence, attention to detail and hard work that we are very happy to have him back and working on the build this year.

Take a look at Ian's Potager garden in our customer projects, to see some of his other recent work.

In the Mediterranean Memories garden there are a lot of raised beds around the outside, that create the perimeter of the garden.  These are multiplying and growing every time I go out to take a look at the work that is going on. The Laburnum tree looks neat and tidy in its bed now...
New Raised Beds

The raised beds at the front of the garden are getting taller and the shape of the garden is beginning to be defined.  Next door, the Tropical garden has looked like nothing is really happening for a week or so, now I see in the background that Duncan is eyeing up the single pergola that is to run along the side, that's a good sign.

Mean while Russ is doing a "blinding" job of laboriously freshening up the Fragrant Front garden. We've decided it looks pretty cool in white and cream, seems to make the colour of the plants leap out.

Another little change has been to scoop out the gravel that was in the centre of the Within the Weave paving and replace it with a new lawn, my that's grown quickly! Almost magic, it looks like it's been there ages. I think it gives a very different feel to the garden and I love the colours that are beginning to show more in the living walls behind.

Clean Show Garden

In between putting the pergola up in the garden next door, Duncan has been moving and stacking the block paving for the Med-Mems garden.  I think that looks like pretty hard, boring work, and the poor love, he keeps looking like he's lost count!  I've asked him a few times if he thinks he's got the right number of blocks, will there be enough? - he's polite enough to just smile and mumble his answers...

Paving Bricks

So this is what he was up to, seems a lot of effort to make our sign stay up in the windy conditions, though that's good work Duncan!

And here's that lovely single pergola up and ready for its lattice trellis infill panels, that will create a rather nice division between the new Tropical garden and Fragrant Front garden.

New Single Timber Pergola

And now here are the raised beds looking really good, it really gives you an idea of what the final garden will look like.  Feedback from Ian Day is that he really likes using the un-grooved Jakwall timbers, he's never used them before, previously he's always gone for the more traditional landscape sleepers, but these get a thumbs up, he particularly likes the chamfered edges.

Raised Beds

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Bank Holiday Show Gardens Work

It was the first May bank holiday last weekend, but work carried on some of the days.  Oddly for a bank holiday it didn't pour with rain, which was very welcome to Ian and the crew.  They have managed to clear out more rubble and soil, dig out footings for posts and the sides of the garden have started to take shape and be defined, as the landscape timbers are being built up.  We are using Jacksons Jakwall timbers, the "ungrooved" version, as opposed to the one that looks grooved to simulate brickwork. They are that bit smaller (90 x 140mm) than our Landscape sleepers (100 x 200mm), giving the perimeter a more elegant shape, having been chamfered, the sleepers would look pretty chunky and heavy duty, in comparison I think.

The simple timber frame for the small pergola has popped up as well.  This will make a pretty shadey seating area once its roof cover is put on.

Part of the plan was to leave the established Laburnum tree is the back right side corner.  The team has been carefully working around it, trying not to disturb it.  There will be raised beds for planting all along the rear wall of the garden - these will be made to different heights and sizes, the one surrounding the tree is being kept low, so there's not too much earth covering the base of the tree, otherwise it can distress it.

I noticed today the Laburnum is just showing flower buds on it, it will be great if it manages to still be in flower at the opening event, it looked great last year with its yellow droopy tresses of flowers, lovely bit of colour - fingers crossed.

James and Russ have been working on sprucing up the Fragrant Front garden - sanding down the flakey old paint work and giving the door, window and wall a fresh coat of paint.

It's looking much better already.

Front Garden revamp

I don't know about you, but do these guys look guilty to you?

I think they think I'm checking on how many tea breaks they are having  ;-)

Whilst all the attention is on the new gardens, the work to tidy up the others is really paying off now.  Natural Reflections is filling out beautifully...

Filled Out Show Garden

And the Sanctuary Garden has shot up and the Osteospermums are out, and the Valerian and Nepeta are on the brink - I think in the next week this is going to be a riot of colour, can't wait!

Osteospermums plants