Monday, 31 October 2011

Sherwood Forest

...And then on Wednesday it being half term, we went up to Derbyshire (my family and I, not Miss Willmott and I, that's how rumours start!).  On a wet and miserable Thursday we decided to cross the border into enemy territory and visit Sherwood Forest, or more specifically the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre.  

Now, not being renown for scepticism and pessimism, I was looking forward to sorry, BEING renown for scepticism and pessimism I was not looking forward to it and it lived up to all of my expectations.  You see the problem is a lot of places are spending a lot of money on visitor centres, Shorne Woods and Bedgebury in the south of England, and the new centre at Edinburgh Botanic Garden, whereas the Sherwood Forest centre may have had a lot of money spent on it (and the information film was very good and the shop and people very friendly and helpful) and it may be that it is meant to look like Robin Hood's hat, but architecturally it doesn't really do it for me.  I guess I've become accustomed to seeing timber and glass constructions and to see what looked like a dark green corrugated hut, well...!

But when you get into the forest it is a gem.  The lower storey of plants is all ferns and it is the first time I think I have been in an oak and birch forest.  Normally we see the odd oak interspersed with lots of other species in the south, but to be the dominant species underplanted with ferns is something to see especially as the ferns are now beginning to change colour.


The only sad thing for me was the Major Oak, where Robin Hood and his Merry Men are supposed to have hid.  Somewhere in the visitor centre it says 'it takes 300 years for an oak to grow, 300 years for it to live and 300 years for it to die'.  The only problem is the people who govern this forest are not allowing it to die.  They are artificially keeping it alive by propping it up.  Take away the props and let nature take its course otherwise you may as well just have fake plastic trees.

A Day Out With Miss Willmott

Last Tuesday I went out for the day with Miss Willmott to the Creating Landscapes Show at Capel Manor College (stop me if you've heard this one before).  Organised by the Landscape Juice Network, it brought together different aspects of the Landscaping Industry to show off their wares and services.  We met Miss Willmott's new best friends from Wyevale East (and very nice they were too) as well as others from the landscaping world including Nock Coslett from Palmstead Nurseries (but don't tell Richard and Liz from Wyevale East).

One of the best things was looking around Capel Manor College and at the show gardens that were designed by former students.  Although Capel Manor doesn't appear to provide degree courses, the gardens that were there were of good quality and well thought out and provided a good use of space.  We're not all going to be designing large acre plots for Lord and Lady Muck, so to do what they have done must be a real benefit to the students.

 Some of the front gardens in Sunflower Street, a small display of the student's work

Wyeale East's finest

I know we got the chance to build the garden, designed by Mandy Buckland - got to get that in, for Hampton Court and I'm thankful for that (did I mention Gold and Best Small Garden 2010) but it would be good for Hadlow College and ex-students if they could find funding to have new gardens designed and built to show off their students talents, after all they have the space.  I was told that Marshalls sponsored about 9 of the gardens at Capel Manor, so there is money out there.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

This Year's 3rd Year

I've just had a flick through some of the blogs of this year's 3rd year Garden Design students. It brings it all back; Jamie barking out orders, Julia's calming tones, everyone trying to do their best but feeling its not good enough...

Its a pretty daunting thing that the 3rd year students are now embarking on but this time next year you will be sitting there, as I am now, with a slight hint of jealousy, envious of the time you are now spending with friends and associates, working as a team (or possibly on your own).  Make the most of it and try to take in what you can from the 'Great Sages' and do as you are told.  Believe it or not they will get the best out of you and you will produce work that you will be proud of by next May and you will have learned more than you think you ever could.

I sometimes think I need a little holographic Jamie on my desk just to give me a jolt once in a while, along with a Julia for when things get too much...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Sheffield Park... popular demand.  Visited on 18.10.09.  

And the best bit about our visit?  A Fiat Cinquecento!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Sheffield Park in Autumn

The other night I had a thought.  I was going to post some pictures of Sheffield Park in the Autumn, the beautiful Acers glowing red reflecting on the lake, the leaves in hues of yellows, reds and browns.  

But I switched on my computer to find Mandy had done the very same thing the day before! And not wanting to be one who follows fashion, here's the test card instead...

Glasshouse at Edinburgh

When the rain started it was time to head for the Glasshouse, or glasshouses should I say as the one you see here is only the first part, you know the one where they take your money.  You then go through a door to be hit with the heat and humidity and what with the rain on the glass above, you could well be in the rain forest.  The diversity of plant shapes and forms is incredible as you move from one environment to another through Star Trek style doors (ok, I exaggerate a bit).  The colours are very intense and they even have Winnie the Pooh style swizzle sticks, I guess the 100 Acre Wood must have been in the rain forest, either that or Great Britain was in the middle of a global warming catastrophe when AA Milne did his bit.  

Maybe all the plants were in fact made of plastic and its just one big con as most of us will never make it to the rainforest to find out, or maybe its just the old cynic in me.  Either way, when you're next in Edinburgh go to the Royal Botanical Gardens...or don't, its your choice, I mean what do I care if you want to miss the chance to see plants like this, call yourself a horticulturalist...