Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Dry River Bed Cobble Garden Revisited

Readers of my blog may well recognise this evolving garden design project in Greenfield in the High Peaks. Late last year we extended the dry river cobble bed to incorporate the sloped bed leading down to the driveway. This is all settling in nicely now and fortunately for me on the day of my recent visited the sun was out and the colours vibrant. Below are a few pictures of the garden as it progresses. 




















































I sincerely hope you enjoy the pictures and please feel free to comment or ask questions.
All pictures are the copyrighted property of David Keegan © 2016
Do not copy, publish, or use in any way, without the prior consent of the owner, David Keegan.

Picture size and quality is reduced for these postings in order to protect the integrity of the expressed and legal copyright © 2016


Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Boulders. “The Story of a Gardens Lost History”


 The Story of a Gardens Story.




One of the most exciting, and sometimes daunting, aspects of my job is the anticipation of what I will see when I make that first visit to meet a new client. I say sometime daunting, as over the years I have come across some very challenging and unanticipated difficult conditions, from severe slopes, one of my most often presented challenges, to very badly neglected and unloved spaces. Let’s face it you are not going to call a garden designer if you have a beautiful garden to begin. This story though, of the story of a garden, must surely stand as one of the most intriguing I have yet come across.

I got an email inquiry from a lady, let’s say her name is Angela, as she wishes to remain anonymous, and attached to the email a couple of pictures of a garden space with a large quantity of boulders and the remains of what looked like quite a bit of tree surgery. Angela’s inquiry, did I know of anyone who might like to have the stone, or indeed, could I possibly use the stone on one of my projects and could I potentially help with the redesign of the space. On reading the email further it transpired that both Angela and her husband had recently purchased a property, the garden to which they assumed was just badly overgrown. When they said overgrown it turned out they meant overgrown in the sense of a number of very large and dense conifers virtually filling the entire rear garden area. No problem they thought, just get the trees cut down clear the space and return a normal and usable garden. However, nothing quite prepared them for the discovery that lay hidden amongst the dense undergrowth. On clearing the space they revealed the remains of an authentic Japanese garden complete with a mini version of Mount Fuji to one corner. Given there had been no mention of this, either by the estate agent, or in the property particulars, they were somewhat confounded, confused, panicked and not particularly happy, as they did not want a Japanese garden.

On making further inquiry from the vendor, daughter of the deceased, the story of the gardens creation was even more intriguing. The 1980s detached house built in a pretty normal, if somewhat leafy, suburban area of Cheshire had somehow inspired the owner to commission a designer based in California to design and install an authentic Japanese garden, replete with mount Fuji replica, Buddha stone, a very large Koi pond, subsequently filled in, ornate bridge over the pond, a water fall, along with various paths through the space.  Unfortunately the instigator and owner of the garden had died at the very young age of 61 and his wife, having no interest in the garden, donated the fish to another Japanese garden, had the pond filled in,  and promptly forgot about the garden as she sadly descended into a deep mourning loss of her husband. Having passed away quite recently the house was put on the market by their only surviving daughter.

I duly made an initial appointment for a consultation visit with Angela and her husband to discuss possibilities, with an initial view to suggesting they sell the stone to a salvage reclamation yard. The day of my visit was alas another of the all too frequent wet, damp, miserable ones. Even on a wet day though I was intrigued by what I saw, as looking out the window my eyes drawn to the wonderful form colour and texture of the stone, it dawned on me that I just might have a place for some of the larger pieces in one of my other projects that had just completed in Worsley, in Salford, Greater Manchester. Not wanting to pre-empt, I said nothing during that first meeting about possibly using some of the stone, but instead set about discussing and enthusing the possibility of retaining some elements of the Japanese garden in a re imagined configuration, and in particular mount Fuji, which I felt could once again gain significance within this new space.

Meeting with the client in Worsley during the week that followed I shared the story of the Japanese garden, along with my thoughts on 3 of the feature stone, with the proviso I was not at all sure, given the very restricted access, that it would be feasible to get the stone into position, but that I would ask our ever enduring landscaper Kris what his thoughts were. Kris as usual was full of enthusiasm and had replied, as he usually does when confronted with challenge, we will find a way. I joked they would have to do an Egyptian with poles and sacking to carry the boulders, prescient as it turned out.

True to form he did find a way, and the bodies, and the poles, and the sacking, and a brief dry spell, and yesterday, Saturday 21st May 2016 we spent the day both collecting, and then positioning, the boulders in their new home. The uncanny, they look like they have always been there.


Below are a few pictures to visually carry the story of the boulders.

 The boulder that first caught my eye and gave me an idea.


 Mount Fuji laid bare



 The narrowest door presents the trickiest task, how to get over half ton of boulder through it.

 The rain poured down shortly after the job of moving and installing the boulders was completed, good and lucky timing. The lads are still smiling, but probably because they have earned a cold beer!

 The garden with new boulders insitu. The wonderful Orange Azeala mentioned in previous post now in full and glorious flower to the foreground. On first sight it quite literally takes your breath away.



Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Finished Garden Design Project Front & Back Garden, Worsley, Lancashire, by David Keegan Garden Design

Form & Function


A Finished Garden Design Project in Worsley, Lancashire.




Question; how do I make a garden relevant? Relevant to what and to whom? The garden owner’s needs, the changing environment, the passing seasons, conservation, conversation? Then there is the question of modernity within the context of the environment and traditionalism. Lawn, do you want a lawn, is a lawn feasible, perhaps not, its high maintenance and rarely ever trouble free. And expected planting beds? What are the new plants I will think to introduce for? Do you want to grow things just to look at, or do you also grow for the table and the pot? Herbs, maybe some salad leaves? Wood for the burner? Can we have habitat and blur the boundaries into soft edges, a frame within a frame, that captures the trees beyond. How do I then cram all this into a small suburban space and still make it functional and interesting and pleasing. It needs to be a picture, that is a picture whatever the weather, whatever the season, but equally it needs to fill and flow with the seasons as perennials lift their sleepy heads, break the surface of the soil in preparation for spectacle. This week the Cherry tree creates a white umbrella, lending a sense of airiness and purity, whilst its trunk casts pleasant shadows on the fence behind. The apple not far, heavy in white bud, on the cusp of open blossom, ready to offer a yet to come harvest when the air will fill with the wondrous smell of baking pastry, apple and cinnamon.  The azalea not to be outdone, fills and will soon too shine. The fig in the corner not long planted, but already fruiting. The point of a garden is surely its connection to all the senses. The answer, this garden which I call the eco contemporary garden. I will not explain more, as there seems little need, it’s there in the pictures, visible, connecting, answering a need, by filling the frame of an eye. On a rare day the sun shines and the air fills with birdsong, I wait for the bees and the bugs to make this garden home.

Enjoy.




















 Back garden as first seen







 Front Garden













Front garden as first seen




Special thanks to Kris and Shaun for all their dedicated skill and hard work, during a pretty horrendous winter, in making this garden a reality.