Three Grand Gardens

I was surprised - pleasantly surprised infact - to stumble across some show gardens at Grand Designs Live. I hadn't remembered them being there when we'd visited before, but we may not have found them then. After a day of walking around the Excel it was nice to discover these and breath in some greenery, even though it was indoors!

1. Reclaimed by nature, reused by people - Colin R Smith


The aim of this garden is to attract wildlife to the garden, especially our dwindling bee population. As well as wildlife it's designed to welcome the visitor and provide a relaxing environment. The sound of running water of as a stream meanders alongside the rustic path to the seating area.

On the board next to the garden Colin, the designer said "the garden had to have the feel of being just found, hidden away allowing nature to partly take back what was once hers."

Lots of the items used in the garden have come from reclamation or landscape yards and it certainly had an aged, but relaxed look.

I'm a big fan of the brick path and how it winds through the garden and I like how the planting is also vertical. I'm also surprised at how natural the garden looks and if you didn't know it you could be fooled into thinking this wasn't smack bang in the middle of an indoor event space!


2. Wild Life - Mark O'Neill


This one too is a secret garden, but one that's densely planted where children and grown-ups alike can enjoy the natural world and develop their imagination.

And yes that's a copper tube pipe structure in the middle - well actually it's a "bespoke, reclaimed tubular copper pavilion" and its surrounded by a living walls of ferns and evergreens and is on a lawn of chamomile. 

While I recognise the work that's gone into this garden, I don't think I get it and it all looks a bit too overgrown and too secret for me. I did like the stepable chamomile lawn though, I bet it smells divine when the sun's out (well if it was outside that is!)

I liked the copper bird house and feeder too, although it seems my camera didn't so much - it's just under that green square in the photo on the right.

It's always nice to hear birdsong in the garden and here we're regularly spot blackbirds, tits and robins and of course very fat pigeons (I'm less keen on those though, you might have noticed!).


3. The wildlife all-around garden - Caroline Jenkins


This was my favourite of the three gardens, and if I hadn't told you that I think you'd guess by the number of photos I'm including.

This garden is based on a circular theme with a "contemporary rustic chic feel." The wooden supports around the patio provide support for climbing plants but the round "windows" still allow you to glimpse views of the garden, which I thought was a nice touch.

I was very taken with the stones though - just look at how neat they are. There's even a ring of larger stones carrying on the circle theme. I'm not sure how long it would stay looking so neat if I were to have this in my garden though...

The bench seating area also serves as a wildlife habitat with a number of wooden bug hotel modules, another nice idea.



And as with all good bug hotels there's room for everyone with each module catering to different bugs. I do like this, but I'm not sure I'd be using it as my only seating area in the garden - well, because if it's occupied I'd be concerned about bugs using my legs as a quick route to change rooms...


The other thing I liked about this garden was that it was real enough to incorporate a compost bin and log pile and the board next to the garden summed it up for me with "[the] attention put in at the design process through an understanding of what wildlife really need in today's urban gardens make this a truly well-rounded wildlife garden the whole family can enjoy."  

Yes I'd be very happy with this as my garden - just as long as I could have a bug free deckchair too!


I liked these gravel stepping stones too - I'd not seen anything quite like them before. After reading the board to see if I could learn more (I couldn't) I spotted a lady hanging around the garden as well. And one that looked very much like the lady in the picture on the board...

Was it the garden designer? Well I hoped it was as I was about to ask her about those gravel stepping stones.

Bingo. It was Caroline and we had a lovely short chat about the garden and those stepping stones. It's quite easy really - you take a length of metal, shape it into a circle where you want it add a small amount of cement-type stuff on the base and then load in the gravel. Simples.


And effective too.  I've decided I like circles in gardens - we were already thinking of making our lawn into a series of circles -  and I'm keen on some kind of bug hotel in our garden too. I've got the perfect spot for it too at the back of our garden, and I've been collecting potential materials now I just need to make it happen. And initially for that I'll need some of MOH's sawing skills...


Do you have a bug hotel or box? And has anything taken up residence?  If you've any tips on what to include I'd be interested to hear them.

The List