Landform Blog

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Phew – Charity Challenges Completed!

September has been a month of charity challenges for the Landform team. They got dirty and sweaty for a good cause.  Between them Mark, Catherine, Kate and Rhiannon have raised £4,949 for the charity Perennial. If you read our previous blog, you will know that the Office Girls went Nuts, but more of that later.

First let’s talk about Mark’s amazing challenge. Having already completed the Three Peaks Challenge in 2013 for the charity Perennial, Mark, who is a Perennial Partner Ambassador, was prepared to step up a gear (if you pardon the pun) for the next challenge.

Mark and Louise cycling through Devon on the tandem.

Mark and Louise cycling through Devon on the tandem.

If you read in our last blog, Mark teamed up with Louise in the Three Peakers Ride Again challenge, which saw 20 horticultural fellows cycle from Mount Snowdon to Lands End. The Peakers split into two groups, one group cycling off road, by tracks and trails, and the other group travelling by road. Cycling a total of 500 miles over 5 days, to put it into perspective – the group were covering an equivalent distance of the height of Mount Everest.

Mark admits he naively wanted to undertake the challenge on a 30 year old tandem he borrowed, with partner Louise, to complete their journey.

Mark commented: ”I completely underestimated the hills. The distances were manageable, but the hills were unbelievable and tough as the bike was so heavy. Co-ordination and riding together took some getting used to, but the whole set of difficulties just added to the sense of achievement at the end. To be honest I really enjoyed it, but we were glad once it was over as well. It really was a tough challenge!”
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Louise said of her experience: “The route was superb, as was the organisation and the whole team working together. Having no control at the rear of the tandem took some getting used to and the hills, especially the decents filled me with dread as they were steep and full of hazards that I had no control over. Overall I enjoyed the tandem. It was tougher than I had imagined, but we had a giggle with the group as well.”
Success in the finish! Mark & Louise at Lands End.

Success in the finish! Mark & Louise at Lands End.

Mark & Louise together with the other Three Peakers cyclists.

Mark & Louise together with the other Three Peakers cyclists.

I think Mark and Louise deserve a medal for undertaking that challenge. It must have been hard enough cycling solo, but cycling on a 30 year old tandem is testament to their dedication and determination. Well done! If you haven’t sponsored them yet – visit their sponsorship page here.
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And as if that wasn’t gruelling enough for the Landform Office team, our hardy perennials Catherine, Kate and Rhiannon completed the Go Nuts Challenge, also for the Perennial Charity. They teamed up with fellow landscapers Mark and Chris to tackle the famous muddy assault course as a part of HortAid 2016.
The Go-Nutters: Before and After.

The Go-Nutters: Before and a bit muddier after.

Kate said of her experience: “The Nuts Challenge was SO fun and SO gross. I enjoyed everything, but the ditches really pushed me out of my comfort zone. The plunge in was evil; cold and stinking and the climb out, nearly impossible. Thank goodness Mark B was there to heave us out the other side!! It’s certainly a fantastic team bonding exercise! I’d do it again and I think we should encourage a few more recruits to do it next year too!”
Kate plunging into a "ditch" with team mates, Chris & Catherine.

Kate plunging into a “ditch” with team mates, Chris & Catherine.

 Just a reminder about the charity: Perennial provides free and confidential advice, support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in, or retired from horticulture. This help extends to spouses, partners and children. It’s a really worthy cause – so if you haven’t sponsored them yet please visit the Office Girls’ sponsorship page here.

Go Nuts and Three Peakers Ride Again!

People might say – all we do is design, build and maintain gardens, but those of you who follow our blog know that we are extremely active, sporty and good at raising money for charities.

Mark & Matt have run the marathon a few times, Mike has run endurance marathons in the Alps, Mick has won Gold medals for Dragon Boat racing, to name just a few of our team’s extra curricular activities.

Mark Gregory is no stranger to challenges and is about to embark on another Three Peaks challenge… Perhaps his most challenging one yet! We’ll keep you in suspense – more of that in a minute.

But what of our Office team? Surely they just sit around all day, tapping away at their computers? Wrong!

Kate, Catherine & Rhiannon in training!

Kate, Catherine & Rhiannon in training!

Catherine, Kate and Rhiannon are about to do the Nuts Challenge to raise money for charity Perennial, the UK’s only charity dedicated to helping anyone who works in horticulture, and their families, when times get tough. As a part of HortAid 2016 our hardy office perennials are undertaking a muddy assault course for the Perennial Nuts Challenge on 18th September. They must be nuts!

Teaming together with fellow landscapers Mark B, Amanda and Chris to raise money, the girls have been busy training in their free time and let’s just say – they’re not afraid to get dirty!

LEFT: Office dog Marg putting Rhiannon through her paces | RIGHT: Kate & Catherine doing a spot of refiling!

LEFT: Office dog Marg putting Rhiannon through her paces | RIGHT: Kate & Catherine doing a spot of refiling!

Perennial provides free and confidential advice, support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in, or retired from horticulture. This help extends to spouses, partners and children. It’s a really worthy cause – so please visit the Office Girls’ sponsorship page and make a donation here.

And we couldn’t keep you in suspense any longer! In case you think the girls do all the hard work, Mark is also raising money for the Perennial charity in the “Three Peakers Ride Again” Challenge.

Mark took part in the Three Peaks Challenge back in 2013, teaming together with a band of horticulturalists to raise money for Perennial. The team climbed the three highest peaks and cycled between them, raising a staggering £26k for the charity. Now the band have expanded in numbers and have a bigger and better challenge! They are cycling from Snowdon to Lands End. Half of the twenty strong Peakers are cycling by road and the other half off road! They are going to see who gets their first! Not only a challenge – but competitive too!

 

Nuts! Mark & Louise training on their tandem!

Nuts! Mark & Louise training on their tandem!

Mark and Louise are in the team travelling by road – on a tandem no less! That’s 750K on a tandem from Mount Snowdon to Lands End from the 19th-25th September! Wow Mark – seems like you’re going nuts too!

Again – it’s an extremely worthy cause, please visit Mark’s Three Peakers sponsorship page to make a donation here.

We will update you on their progress! Follow our Twitter account for regular updates from the team over the next few weeks.

RHS Hampton Court 2016 – At a glance

RHS Hampton Court is done and dusted for another year – but what a year it has been!

The Landform team are having a well earned rest from the shows, celebrating two GOLD medals for the Squire’s Show Garden and conceptual garden UNHCR “Border Control” Garden, and top award – 4 Star Tradestand Award for the Hartley Botanic stand.

Not only that, at the end of the week – Catherine MacDonald received the People’s Choice Award for the Squire’s Garden on behalf of the team. What a successful end to the show season for Landform – well done again team!

The beautiful Squires Garden designed by Catherine MacDonald

The beautiful GOLD winning Squires Garden designed by Catherine MacDonald

GOLD winning conceptual garden UNHCR Border Control designed by Tom Massey and John Ward

The Border Control Garden built by our foreman Steve also won Best in Category. The garden’s concept garden highlights the current refugee crisis and the desperate risks many people take to find shelter. Surrounded by fencing and security guards, visitors view the garden from the non-native refugees’ perspective, a land full of danger, despair and suffering with only glimpses of the sanctuary beyond. However, dispersed amongst the rubble, surviving against the odds, a number of beautiful non-native plants shine, colourful displays of strength and hope in the face of adversity.

At first glance the central island planting appears to be a traditional British wildflower meadow, but on closer inspection, many of the plants from the outer zone have made it across, integrated amongst the native wildflowers, blending in, harmonising and adding to the overall beauty of the sanctuary.

The stone was supplied by London Stone.

The Hartley Botanic stand receiving top accolade 4 Star Award, designed by Rhiannon Williams

The Hartley Botanic stand receiving top accolade 4 Star Award, designed by Rhiannon Williams

TOP LEFT: Joel, Charlie, Matthew, Ed & Catherine with the GOLD medal; BOTTOM LEFT: Ed & Catherine with the People's Choice Award; RIGHT: Catherine with Colin Squire, Squire's Chairman with the award.

TOP LEFT: Joel, Charlie, Matthew, Ed & Catherine with the GOLD medal; BOTTOM LEFT: Ed & Catherine with the People’s Choice Award; RIGHT: Catherine with Colin Squire, Squire’s Chairman with the award.

Peter Seabrook, Gardening Editor of The Sun, described the Squire’s Garden “A touch of class”.

Sarah Squire (Deputy Chairman at Squire’s) commented “We are absolutely thrilled to win a Gold Medal at Hampton Court in Squire’s 80th Anniversary year! Our thanks must go to our designer Catherine MacDonald and the team at Landform for doing such an amazing job, despite the inclement weather over the last couple of weeks. Our Show Garden is stylish and contemporary, and I particularly love the concept of the sunken entertaining area, as it’s very peaceful and secluded. The planting is absolutely beautiful with a well-chosen colour palette. I hope that people will take inspiration from some of the elements of the garden to create the look in their own garden at home.

Update on RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2016

The build for RHS Hampton Court Flower Show 2016 is already nearly complete. Our Landform team have been busy, braving the weather (it’s rained every day of the build so far), to build a Show Garden, a Conceptual Garden and the Hartley Botanic tradestand.

The Squires Show Garden, designed by our in-house designer Catherine MacDonald, is coming along nicely. The Darleymoor Buff Yorkstone, supplied by London Stone, has been laid in two finishes, Premium Honed and Shot Blasted. The wine coloured louvred roof, supplied by Garden House Design, looks outstanding and it’s practical too, it can by closed to form a shelter in rainy weather, or opened to take advantage of sunnier days.

With rain everyday - it's been challenging - but Ed and the team are taking it all in their stride!

With rain everyday – it’s been challenging – but Ed and the team are taking it all in their stride!

The planting team are now on site helping Catherine with a fantastic colour palette of wine/red, yellows and whites – the Squires colours. Using Hampton Court favourites, such as Achilleas, Cosmos and Penstemons, plant highlights include Cirsium ‘Trevors Blue Wonder’, Eryngium yuccifolium, and golden leafed Nepeta govaniana among others.

Catherine, Jo and Sophie hard at work with the planting.

Catherine, Jo and Sophie hard at work with the planting.

The Conceptual Garden is the UNHCR “Border Control” Garden, designed by Tom Massey and John Ward, built by our foreman Steve. The topical garden aims to highlight the risks that many refugees take to find safe shelter. The garden contains a wildflower meadow surrounded by a treacherous moat and wire fencing. Photos to follow.

Rhiannon, having completed her Masters, has been busy designing the Hartley Botanic tradestand this year. Kate is on site co-ordinating the glasshouse interiors and it’s coming on beautifully.

Kate busy painting, and Rhiannon cracking on with the planting.

Kate busy painting, and Rhiannon cracking on with the planting.


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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 – Medals Day

After months of preparation and three weeks of hard graft, the gardens have been built and judged. The results are in! And Landform are immensely proud of the four gardens, and tradestand they have been involved with this year.

GOLD medal winning Chelsea Barracks Garden, designed by Jo Thompson.

GOLD medal winning Chelsea Barracks Garden, designed by Jo Thompson.

The Chelsea Barracks Show Garden, designed by Jo Thompson, sponsored by Qatari Diar, and built by our foreman Rich, Steve (Steve gets a special mention here thanks to his lovely build photos below!) and their team – was awarded GOLD.   This garden was a very challenging, technical build, with lots of detail. The design was fluid, with a complex water rill and stone layout. Rich and the Landform team were working closely with our specialists to get all the precise hard-landscaping details spot on. With the stone being cut using a water-jet, there was very little tolerance for error. And well done guys – looks like all your fantastic hard work paid off!

Before, during & finished! GOLD winning Chelsea Barracks Garden, designed by Jo Thompson

Before, during & finished! GOLD winning Chelsea Barracks Garden, designed by Jo Thompson

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Water jet cut stone laying in action!

The Hartley Botanic Show Garden, designed by our in-house garden designer Catherine MacDonald won SILVER GILT. Catherine is “over the moon” and deservedly so. The Landscape Academy build team and the planting team excelled themselves. The garden looks fantastic and there have been great comments from it’s visitors so far.

Catherine in the Opus Glass House with her SILVER GILT medal. Together with (top to bottom) lifelong hero David Bellamy on the garden, and with contributors foreman Will Gadd, Claire Soper & Matt Soper of Hampshire Carnivorous Plants, and Michael Buck of Hortus Loci.

Catherine in the Opus Glass House with her SILVER GILT medal. Together with (top to bottom) lifelong hero David Bellamy on the garden, and with contributors foreman Will Gadd, Claire Soper & Matt Soper of Hampshire Carnivorous Plants, and Michael Buck of Hortus Loci.

The artisan garden that we have helped to build, “Together We Can“, designed by Peter Eustace for disability charity Papworth Trust also attained a SILVER GILT. The inspiration for this garden came from the “I Can” campaign where the trust worked with profoundly deaf percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie. Read more on this beautiful garden here.

Top: Dame Evelyn Glennie - the inspiration for the garden. Bottom: Mark Gregory with our friend Charley Boorman and the Papworth Trust.

Top: Dame Evelyn Glennie – the inspiration for the SILVER GILT “Together We Can” garden. Bottom: Mark Gregory with celebrity Charley Boorman and the Papworth Trust.

The Watahan East & West Garden, designed by Yano Tea & Chihori Shibiyama, built by our foreman Ed and his team achieved a SILVER medal. The garden looks fantastic and the balance between east and west is very evident. Well done team – what an experience for all involved.

Top: Rachel de Thame on the SILVER winning East & West Garden.

Top: Rachel de Thame on the SILVER winning East & West Garden.

Did we mention we built the Hartley Botanic Tradestand as well? Phew! Time to put our feet up and enjoy the champagne before…Hampton Court Palace Flower Show starts in about 6 weeks time then!

The Royal Bank of Canada Garden 2012, designed by Nigel Dunnett

Mark Gregory – on his 150th Flower Show Build

On his 150th build for an RHS flower show, Mark Gregory is as enthusiastic about Chelsea as ever. This year he’s working tirelessly behind the scenes for three gardens: building for the Watahan Design Lab designers Tea Yano and Chihori Shibiyama  (East & West Garden), building for British garden designer Jo Thompson (The Chelsea Barracks Garden), and supporting our in-house designer Catherine MacDonald on the Hartley Botanic Show Garden, and building the Hartley Botanic Tradestand as well. “We’ve got a lot on as a company,” he says, “it’s all hands to the pump!”

Mark on the build of his GOLD winning Children Society Garden in 2010

Mark on the build of his GOLD winning Children Society Garden in 2010

With 150 builds at Chelsea & Hampton Court flowers shows, and the odd one at Tatton, Chelsea has a special place in Mark’s heart. He has many fantastic memories and he says that “there are people I only meet once a year at Chelsea and we share that moment together. Even though I’m getting older and with 5 o’clock starts and late finishes – I still enjoy it every year”.

Of all the gardens from over the years, one that stands out in his memory is the Savill Garden from 2006, designed by Philip Nixon & Marcus Barnett.  The reason this garden is a defining moment for Mark is because it was a story of success in the face of adversity! The inspiration for the garden was based on the architecture of Mies van der Rohe: “It was a very technical build, contemporary design, we were operating in absolutely horrendous weather – so we were building right up to the wire, finishing on the Sunday night before Press Day. And the garden won Gold. It’s definitely a defining moment.”

The GOLD winning Saville Garden in 2006, designed by Philip Nixon & Marcus Barnett

The GOLD winning Saville Garden in 2006, designed by Philip Nixon & Marcus Barnett

Another garden that stands out in his memory is the Royal Bank of Canada Garden 2012, designed by Nigel Dunnett. For Mark, the Truli House in the design was a special build – “there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide with the construction”, the house was painstakingly built in-situ and the result was impressive.

The Royal Bank of Canada Garden 2012, designed by Nigel Dunnett

The Royal Bank of Canada Garden 2012, designed by Nigel Dunnett

Perhaps some of the best memories for Mark are when he won his first Gold medal for his own garden design, The Children’s Society Garden in 2008. He remembers the first time he met the Queen in 2003 and having a giggle with her! Mark remembers when the floral marquee was still a tent, about 10-12 years ago, and he still remembers the excitement of seeing the men pulling the tent up!

The Children's Society GOLD winning garden 2008, designed by Mark Gregory

The Children’s Society GOLD winning garden 2008, designed by Mark Gregory

“Building at Chelsea is like a marathon,” says Mark – who has run the London Marathon twice, and done the 3 Peaks Challenge – so he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to endurance! “There are key days, markers that you look out for. Near the end of the build, when the sniffer dog arrives – and I’ve seen that dog every year since it was a puppy – but when you see the dog arrive, you know you’re near the end of the build.”

Mark meeting the Queen in 2010!, with Nigel Dunnett

Mark meeting the Queen in 2010, with the RHS’s Elizabeth Banks & designer Nigel Dunnett

So lots of nice memories and reflections from our Mark on our favourite time of the year – Chelsea!

 

The whole team - East & West

Update on the East & West Garden – RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Here is an update on the East & West Garden, designed by celebrated Japanese garden designers Tea Yano and Chihori Shibiyama of Watahan Design Lab. Our foreman Ed and his team have been busily working away for the nearly two weeks now. It’s a tough build with two converted storage container buildings which float above a pool water feature.

Tea Yano & Chihori Shibiyama and their Japanese team | Ed and the Landform team.

Tea Yano & Chihori Shibiyama and their Japanese team | Ed and the Landform team.

The whole team - East & West

The whole team, coming together – East & West

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the designers and the team on this build is communication. The designers don’t speak much English and Ed and his team certainly don’t speak Japanese so they are having to rely on a translator’s help who is working elsewhere in the showground. Not deterred however – the two groups are managing to make themselves understood and are keeping to schedule despite the changeable weather. That’s what we call teamwork!

The two garden structures being installed & completed.

The two garden structures being installed & completed.

Ed and the Landform crew are currently laying the Japanese paving in a western way and it looks stunning. By Wednesday this week the metalwork, made by Bill Bunce which is being powder coated off-site, should be installed and then the planting can begin in earnest.

Paving

There was a bit of excitement for Ed – when Tokyo TV, who are following Tea Yano’s build for the show, came on site to interview him!

Tokyo TV interviewing foreman Ed on site

Tokyo TV interviewing foreman Ed on site

We are really looking forward to seeing the planting on this garden towards the end of the week.

The garden taking shape.

The garden taking shape.

Progress on the Hartley Botanic Show Garden – RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Things are underway at the Royal Hospital show ground for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As we’ve blogged before – we have three show garden projects there this year. The first garden progress report is about the Hartley Botanic Show Garden, designed by our in-house garden designer Catherine MacDonald.

The garden is being built by a team of The Landscape Academy trained men led by foreman Will Gadd and supported by Landform. The guys have been busy for nearly a week and things are now starting to take shape on the garden…

Work began with setting out on last Thursday 5th May. The day after was an epic dig out, laying of the pond liner and installation of reinforcement in time for a wet concrete pour to form the base of the water feature – and the foundation upon all garden structures would be built.

The Landscape Academy team, setting out, starting the blockwork and getting the concrete pour in.

The Landscape Academy team, setting out, starting the blockwork and getting the concrete pour in.

On Saturday, the trees from Deepdale arrived and thanks to the RHS’s Darren Price, they found some space on the show ground in order to practice setting out the trees! That was really fantastic – as there isn’t much room to practice on the Main Avenue garden site. The Brickies, Paul & Paul, also started on Saturday – the tumbled brick garden wall rising up at quite a pace!

Tree practice

Trees arriving on site – and having the luxury to practice the spacing!

Sunday saw the work carry on in Catherine’s absence with the garden wall getting higher, the block-work edge to the pool taking shape and the hedges and trees, that were trialled away from the garden, being moved into position.

On Monday afternoon the fine brushed grey Yorkstone lintel, supplied by London Stone, was lifted into place to finish off the door aperture in the garden wall and towards the end of the day, before rain stopped play, Will laid the final block to finish the water feature wall.

Yesterday the rain meant that work on the brick wall was halted and outwardly progress slowed – however deliveries of more trees, the steel framework upon which the glasshouse will sit and the glass floor panels for the interior meant that the team are prepared for busy days ahead!

Placing trees on the garden by crane, and the progress of the brick wall.

Placing trees on the garden by crane, and the progress of the brick wall.

Can’t wait to see how the garden develops over the course of the next week.

If you want to have regular news about our show garden builds – please check our Twitter feed and Facebook page for daily updates.

Landform Outdoor Pursuits Part 2: The Dragon Boat Club Crew World Championships

Our Landform team have many impressive “extra-curricular” skills and hobbies. They’ve run marathons, they’ve done the 3 Peaks Challenge, they’ve been on endurance runs in the Alps – but one of our team is a world champion Dragon Boat rower! Dragon Boating is an incredible sport, where 20 men race a 40ft traditional Chinese boat to the accompaniment of a drum.

Mick R has been Dragon Boat racing for many years now and two years ago, he went with his team, the Wraysbury Dragons to Revena, Italy – where they won the 2000 metres race – and World Championship status.

The Wraysbury Dragons earlier this month in Adelaide

The Wraysbury Dragons earlier this month in Adelaide

Earlier this month Mick went with his crew to Adelaide to defend their title in the International Dragon Boat Federation’s Club Crew World Championships. He tells us they weren’t expecting to win again – with Adelaide being so far away, many of the team couldn’t go this time, so the crew wasn’t as strong as in 2014. Dragon boating is extremely fierce and competitive.

Regardless of these low expectations, not only did Mick’s team win the 2000 metres – retaining their championship status, they won the 500 metres and the 200 metres, with an amazing 7 wins out of 7 races! Well done Mick and the Wraysbury Dragons – that’s fantastic!

Mick in action - going for Gold!

Mick in action – going for Gold!

A close finish!

A close finish!

Mick sporting one of three Gold medals.

Mick sporting one of three Gold medals.

Mick is going to Rome in July with the UK team, the Grand Dragons, for the European Championships, and then he’s off to Kiev with a select crew for a 12k race. He says he’s really looking forward to that one. Mick – we’re really looking forward to hearing about that too!

The Wraysbury Dragons - waiting for their Gold medals.

The Wraysbury Dragons – waiting for their Gold medals.

For more information on Mick’s Dragon Boating crew – the Wraysbury Dragons, visit their page.

Upcoming RHS Hampton Court Flower Show News

Landform always enjoys a busy June getting ready for RHS Hampton Court Flower Show and this year is no exception. We are very pleased to announce that we are building the Squires Garden for the show, a show garden celebrating the 80th anniversary of Squires Garden Centres.

Once again our busy garden designer, Catherine MacDonald is designing for the show.  This practical garden is for a suburban couple with grown-up children. The idea is to provide a garden with space to entertain, relax in and provide privacy.  The soft planting will be in Squires’ trademark colours, reds & golds with white, and the hard landscaping will give “some nods” to Squire’s past.

Perspective of the Squires Garden designed by Catherine MacDonald for RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

Perspective of the Squires Garden designed by Catherine MacDonald for RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

Squires is a family run business, founded in 1935 by David Squire. Having been made redundant, David, who with a young family to support, set up his own business, and that business has grown into a thriving, family-owned garden centre group which now comprises 15 garden centres across Surrey, and rose, herbaceous and bedding plant nurseries.

Landform has a special friendship with Squires, as our very own managing director Mark Gregory started his successful landscaping career at Squires as a young man. So we are really looking forward to working closely with Squires over the coming months on this one.

We will bring you more news about the build soon.