…..Ooh, and nooks and niches natch!
You get asked to design-in all sorts of landscape detail in our game:
Mounds to use up builders spoil
Greek temples – well only one of those actually
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Well almost…..
We are certainly calling them ‘The Hanging Gardens of Stroud’…..
(Variety and challenges are just two of joys of being a garden designer!)
So when someone recently asked us to ensure that there were cracks in the paving and they were planted up, that was a piece of the proverbial!
Don’t worry we weren’t being asked to smash slabs of reassuringly expensive, silk smooth, Portuguese limestone. More likely leaving unmortared joints between substantial slabs of the local, roughly textured, Pennant sandstone paving.
But why would anyone even think of this? No one had ever actually specified it before.
Very often with such requests you are dealing with something that people have known in their childhood, seen on holiday or just means something quite special to them.
In this case it was associated with the garden of the old family country house of their childhood, where thymes and violas had seeded themselves into the cracks in paving. These gradually materialize with ground movements over the passage of time as properties age. And although the client had grown up and was living in a smart town house in Clifton they wanted to recreate that element. And what the client wants the client gets.
But plants beneath your feet?
Well, there are landscape benefits to this.
They do soften and ‘casual up’ expanses of hardlandscape. They also add atmosphere and sensuality. It is a different texture visually and also to touch in a podiatric sense.
Choose carefully, tread carelessly and they can also release delicious aromas. I still remember the delights of walking barefoot on dewy thyme and mints in Tuscany 35 years ago – glass of rough red wine in hand for my breakfast – oh those student days!
Certainly the look is more likely to be informal, but large it up a bit
and your pavement detail can become a whole new crevicefest:
This Chelsea show garden certainly rocked its cracks!
And elegant pavement detail:
is one of the trademarks of Mr Robert Myers, a designer whom we greatly admire:
There is of course another deadly practical side - if you don’t fill your cracks with little treasures Dame Nature surely will and that means weeds right? Grrrrrrh!
But it is one thing for cracks to materialize and quite another for them to be put there deliberately.
The health and safety police, all too pervasive this side of the pond, would have a field day!
So common sense suggests that they are placed mainly off likely direct routes and away from dining areas. And we are talking cracks, not enough space to lose the family silver in.
What to plant? Well, of course choices will relate to growing conditions.
The Royal Horticultural Society and a book by Nichola Ferguson called ‘Right Plant Right Place’ list all sorts of things which I would not consider.
Finicky little alpines, well I’d think carefully. You’d be wanting toughies here!
But neither would I release any devils! Think Helxine! Eek!
Of course Thymes are a given.
Erinus alpinus, the straight species not Dr. Wotsit
Erigeron karvinskianus – well, that’s Lesley’s fave
Leptonella ‘Platts Black’ – that’s mine
White flowered toadflax
Of course we could dream up hundreds more, but that’s what flew into our minds as Lesley and I poured the first red of the evening. Once a student always a student. The hours get a trifle more sedate, but the red gets smoother!
So beetle off down to the local garden centre next week end, grab some stuff and stuff your cracks!
Robert and Lesley
If garden designers are any good at all at their job. Attention to detail is vital. It goes without saying that all our esteemed American cousins are not just good, but excellent at their job. Go check them out: