A Residential Care Home on the Isle of Wight by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Colourful raised beds

A Residential Care Home on the Isle of Wight

As part of a major refurbishment we were called in to upgrade the gardens at one of the island’s most prestigious nursing homes. We had worked for the same client before at another of their establishments and we were looking forward to working with them again.

The building had been doubled in size and featured a sunny inner courtyard accessible to the residents, raised beds were constructed within it which enabled them to gain the full benefit of the flowering, scented plants that featured in our carefully considered scheme. In such locations it is vital realise that elderly people can sometimes get confused and attempt to eat things that are not good for them so avoiding spiky or poisonous leaves and berries was essential.

Fragrant French Lavender

Outside was some mature woodland which we extended with new native trees and a grassy slope leading down to the sea, located within an Area of Outstanding Beauty, this too presented some challenges. The soil was a very heavy clay that had to be improved with large amounts of compost. Again we had to be mindful of the need to provide a safe environment for the residents whilst providing as much scent and colour from the plants that we used as possible . Decorative bark mulches were spread around the planting to help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth, thus reducing future maintenance requirements

Newly extended native woodland

Ground conditions were yet another challenge as with the onset of autumn rains it would become unworkable. We had to even out the slope to a more shallow grade, easier for those who needed the help of a stick or frame to walk on and separate areas of this had to be both seeded and turfed whilst we were still able to do so.

The owner of this prestigious establishment said:- “ Tim Brayford has done a great job bringing the gardens up to the high standard of our care home”

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Spring Flowers by National Award Winning Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Spring Flowers 

A successful garden will  contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life.  It may play host to a broad range of flora and fauna enhancing local biodiversity and collectively benefiting the wider world environment by absorbing CO2. Here are just a few examples from gardens on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 

Marsh Marigold and Bee

Snowdrops

Tulips and Bluebells

Narcissus and Lunaria flowers

Cowslips

Daffodils

Camellia

Flowering Currant and Bee

Chaenomeles

Early Cherry Blossom

A late spring assemblage of blooms

Woodland and Bluebells

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

www.timbrayford.co.uk logo & name 27.5.21

Chemical Free Weed Control by Isle of Wight Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Periwinkles are a popular ground covering plant

Chemical Free Weed Control

Geotextile membranes were one of the great gardening innovations of the 20th century promoted as a chemical free low maintenance weed control solution, used in conjunction with decorative mulches such as bark flakes or gravel.

Generally unsuitable for use in an herbaceous border or where bulbs are planted membranes are primarily found for separation of gravel surfaces from the underlying soil and within mass plantings of shrubs and trees.

In the short term geotextiles can be highly effective at providing a low cost/low maintenance option for these areas but it would be a mistake to believe that they are maintenance free. Typically the kind of issues that may arise are birds disturbing decorative bark mulches thus exposing the underlying fabric and the effect of strong gusts of wind actually lifting the fabric away from where it has been placed.

Geotextiles are popularly used for weed control

This is far less of an issue where gravel mulches have been used but other problems can arise. Despite claims to the contrary by the manufacturers in our experience these membranes impede the exchange of air within the soil resulting in the ground becoming compacted, anaerobic, slimy and poorly drained with little beneficial earthworm activity apparent. This does not represent good growing conditions for healthy plants to thrive in.

In the longer term further negative impacts have become apparent. Whenever a mulch is used it will over a period of time trap wind-blown dusty soil particles and seeds, often those of the most vigorous invasive weeds such as bramble, nettle or couch grass. Under these circumstances ideal germination conditions may arise and these seedlings will soon anchor themselves to the membrane and worse still eventually root through it into the soil beneath.

Weedy & neglected, the plants have failed to thrive despite the use of a membrane

Dealing with this kind of scenario, especially once the perennial weeds are well established negates any benefit derived from the use of the geotextile with the most likely solution being to grub everything out and replant afresh.

A solution that appears to work best is to plant quite densely and to omit the membrane, using  a decently thick layer of composted bark instead.  Ground smothering plants such as periwinkles are a particularly useful way of filling the gaps in and around other trees and other shrubs. The planting needs to be regularly inspected and any losses made good, the bark needs to be topped up as necessary and any incipient weeds dealt with before they have become established.

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

www.timbrayford.co.uk logo & name 27.5.21

 

Going Peat Free by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

A natural peat bog, according to the IUCN peatlands store 30% of global carbon

Going Peat Free

Peat has long been used within the horticultural industry both as a growing medium used in composts and as a soil conditioner. It is a natural product composed of slowly decaying plant material built up over many thousands of years.

It is harvested primarily from lowland raised peat bogs, an increasingly endangered form of habitat along with the flora and fauna that it supports. But this is not all, it efficiently locks up atmospheric CO2 forming an effective and vital buffer against climate change.

Modern peat harvesting destroys the original peat bog

Fortunately advances in recycling and composting technology has rendered the use of peat redundant for most conventional gardening purposes. Peat free compost is made up mainly from recycled waste organic material such as bark, sawdust, coir, paper etc. blended with inorganic materials such as sand , grit or perlite, with fertiliser added as appropriate.

A simple guide on how to avoid using peat in the garden:-

Only purchase composts specifically labelled as being “Peat Free”

Use recycled garden waste as a soil improver and conditioner. Traditionally gardeners have done this for themselves by constructing their own compost heap, high quality recycled composts are also available from many municipal authorities

Source plants from nurseries and garden centres that have peat free policies

Plant only what will already grow in your existing soil without adding peat

Raised peat bog flora like this Bog Cranberry will be destroyed by harvesting

*******It is the policy of Tim Brayford Landscapes to avoid using peat and peat based products*******

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

www.timbrayford.co.uk logo & name 27.5.21

Growing Beans by Award Winning Garden Designer Tim Brayford

french beans ready to eatFrench beans ready for eating

Growing Beans

I love beans. Any sort of beans. The amount I grow throws out my crop rotation. First in line are broad beans. I know some people say they are coarse but they obviously let them get old. I sow, for preference, in late October or early November. With nets across the top to deter the birds and mice who like them as much as I do. Up they come, a great big patch of them in blocks which hold each other up. The scent when they burst into flower is surprising and the bees love them. The anticipation of running a thumb and finger down a fresh green pod to see how big the beans are getting is only surpassed by actually popping it open. I pick carrier bags full from the allotment and settle down on the sun-lounger  to the pleasure of podding. Tea at hand and the wheelbarrow to take the waste. Colander on my lap and the radio on. That gentle ‘pop’ and peel down the edge to reveal beautiful pale green beans nestling in their downy beds. Cooked and cooled with a little garlicky olive oil dressing, bliss.

Broad beans ready to harvest

Well that’s my annual ‘starter for 10’ and then I move onto the serious business of climbing beans. I’ve been getting a bit adventurous lately and have taken to growing some of the Heritage beans available to Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library members. Members can chose varieties that are no longer available, or indeed legal, to sell as they have been removed from the European List. I’ve started to grow a wide range of climbing French beans, big ,fat purple pods, little pods with pregnant bumps, flat speckled ones and all come with interesting names and histories. Blue Coco, Mrs Fortunes, Madeira Maroon. And the beauty of the frenchies is that you can save the seed and become self sufficient in them. Anyone who thinks all beans taste the same should try some of these. There’s the smoky flavour of the purple podded Blue Coco and the squeaky freshness of Extra Hatif de Juillet.

Broad beans ready to cook

Runner beans hold top position as the traditional favourite. These are the beans of my childhood. My mother could dish me up a plate of mashed potato and sliced (longways of course) runner beans and I’d be as happy as a pig in a mud pond. It’s an iconic view of the English summer garden, red flowers teeming with bees as the speedy plants twine their way up hazel poles. The sheer volume of production can’t be beaten and the taste is superb, no matter what the French say…

To end the season there is the crop of dried beans. I was a bit sceptical when I first tried these. There was some head shaking from the ‘die hard’ department on the plot, accompanied by sharp intakes of breath. ‘They’ll never dry properly here’. Well they do, even in the damp years. I’m careful when I pick, making sure that the pods are dry. I don’t wait to pick them all together but harvest in two or three sessions. You start to get a feel for the pod, when it’s ready it’ll be papery and crackly to the touch, if there’s still a hint of softness it’s not ready. I finish drying by laying them out in old mushroom trays under cover. When I pod out the beans I put them in a ceramic bowl in the kitchen. I leave it uncovered for several days and every time I pass it I run my hands through and turn them. There’s something very satisfying and tactile about it.

Well, there you have it, I’m bean mad but the family wolf them back and there’s never yet been the cry of  ‘Oh No! Not more beans!’

Runner Bean Obelisk

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

www.timbrayford.co.uk logo & name 27.5.21

Isle of Wight Wildflower Meadows by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Wildflower Meadow

The Wildflower meadow

“This lucid fount, whose murmurs fill the mind

The verdant forests waving with the wind

The odours wafted from the mead, The flowers

In which the wild bee sits and sings for hours

These might the moodiest misanthrope employ

Make sound the sick, and turn distress to joy”

(Garcilaso de la Vega, 1501 – 1536)

 

For those fortunate enough to have sufficient space, be it an under used  pony paddock, hay field or even a larger sized lawn there is the opportunity of establishing a wildflower meadow.

Wild flower meadows were traditionally areas of unimproved grassland that were kept for hay making rather than being constantly grazed. In consequence these open sunny areas have played host to a broad range of grassland flora and fauna and are important feeding zones for Bees and other pollinators.

Tim Brayford Landscapes-Wildflowers attract wildlife

The pressure to raise agricultural production during the 20th century led to the loss of these biologically diverse areas as grassland was improved, fertiliser added and vigorous cultivated species such as Italian Ryegrass sown.  In the past 100 years up to 97% of these traditional hay meadows may have been lost.

With a growing realisation of the value of wildflower meadows a growing number of people have become enthusiastic about re-establishing them on land that they own and in some cases there is funding available through Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme, details of which may be obtained via their local offices.

But funding is only part of the challenge of establishing a new meadow, past agricultural practices which have been successful at raising yields of grass grown may be the exact opposite of what is now required.  Bold steps may have to be taken such as destruction of the existing sward by ploughing or with herbicides, fertility reduced by removing hay or silage several times in one growing season and sowing parasitic Yellow Rattle to weaken the grass further.

Meadow Cranesbill

Meadow Cranesbill

It is only when conditions start to become unfavourable to grass growth that sowing of wildflower seeds  becomes advisable and even then do not expect instant results.

As these plants are of unimproved origin the seeds may not all germinate together and there may be some unwelcome intruders such as Ragwort, Nettles and Docks which will need attention.  Maintenance tasks will need to be attended to with a cycle of late summer hay cuts followed by light grazing of the aftermath and again as growth commences in the spring after the ground has been rolled or harrowed.

When your wildflower meadow has become established you will be able to enjoy the marvellous scents of the flowers and the sight and sound of the creatures that have come to live in the naturally bountiful grassland that you have created.

Wild Flower Meadow in May 1

Wild Flower Meadow

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

www.timbrayford.co.uk logo & name 27.5.21

A Seaside Garden on the Isle of Wight – by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

A Seaside Garden

Meeting the challenges of a seaside garden

Our clients had recently purchased a highly desirable seaside residence bordering the Solent. It had previously been used for commercial purposes and the grounds were in need of a considerable upgrade. On entering the driveway there were numerous eyesores that considerably detracted from the wonderful sea views that were evident. We removed a derelict mobile home , broken fencing and dying plants from an ill-advised and failed scheme that a previous occupant had planted.

In their place we constructed a series of raised beds supported by Cotswold natural stone walling. These were mass planted with a selection of evergreen flowering shrubs, carefully chosen to withstand exposure to salt laden winds whilst providing fragrance and reflecting the colours of the sea. A matching buff coloured self-binding gravel was sourced on the mainland to resurface the driveway with.

Plants thriving right on the water’s edge!

Adjacent to the house we planted semi-mature container grown conifers obtained from a specialist supplier near to London. These trees created instant impact in this part of the garden. Semi-mature evergreen hedging was planted to shield the garden from the worst of the wind. Planted areas were mulched with decorative bark chips to retain moisture and reduce weed growth, easing ongoing maintenance requirements.

Santolina thrives at the seaside

The surrounding lawn areas had previously been laid with a cheap turf unsuitable for this seaside location, the grass was in a very poor state and needed replacing. This was removed and the ground, which was quite uneven, levelled off. We imported a high quality seeded lawn turf grown inthe midlands with fine leaved grass species that thrive in locations next to the sea. There were a few challenging areas of the garden that were subject to being flooded, albeit infrequently, by the sea. These were planted with a mixture of shrub and herbaceous including Tamarisk, Sea Cotton Lavender and Sea Thrift.

 

Our client said:- Everything looks great in the garden, thankyou Tim for all you have done for us

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

www.timbrayford.co.uk logo & name 27.5.21

Tim Brayford – The Isle of Wight’s B.A.L.I. Award Winning Garden Designer

The Isle of Wight has long been recognised as benefitting  from both a mild coastal climate and fertile soils favourable to the gardener

“In general such is the purity of the air, the fertility of the soil, and the beauty and variety of the landscapes, that this island has often been styled the Garden of England” – The History of the Isle of Wight, Sir Richard Worsley. 1781

This is one of a series of articles and anecdotes largely based around our work on the Isle of Wight and occasionally further afield

Tim Brayford Landscapes – A garden in spring

National Award Winning Garden Designer and Landscaper

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. Based on the Isle of Wight our services encompass the initial ideas through to landscaping and aftercare.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – A tranquil seating area

We are experienced in a broad range of projects including the design & planting of entire gardens or the addition of individual features like lawn seeding & turfing, raised beds, water gardens & pools, ground shaping & cultivation, installation of irrigation systems, tree, shrub & herbaceous border planting, establishing  wildlife gardens & ponds, wildflower meadows.

Tim Brayford Landscapes-A shady path leads to a focal point

We undertake specialist maintenance work such as fruit, shrub & rose pruning and offer professional garden advice and hand drawn garden plans which are a particularly good starting point for the more elaborate projects. We also have a mini-digger and mini-tractor available for hire with various attachments available.

Typical before & after of the gardens that we create – please see our website pages for more examples!

For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

Garden Ideas by Award Winning Designer Tim Brayford

A tranquil seating area amongst herbs & grape vines

Garden Ideas

 Your initial  thoughts

Start by assessing your future needs for your garden, who is going to use it and for what purpose. Does it need dividing up into tranquil areas for more mature family members or perhaps play areas for children or pets, do you want to attract wildlife like garden birds ? And what about maintenance, do you simply want areas of grass or do you have the time and skills to develop the classical country house borders of mixed shrubs and herbaceous plants?

Develop a theme

Thinking in terms of the overall look if your house is of a striking contemporary design you may find that architectural plants with bold foliage and areas of gravel and paving in finely dressed stone or concrete may be suitable, whereas if you live in a traditional country cottage fragrant honeysuckles and roses with winding paths in brick or roughly hewn paving slabs are preferable.

The blank canvas, after the initial clearance of the concreted over surface!

What to do next

Keep a notebook of your initial thoughts and perhaps do a rough sketch as well. Take a walk around your garden, taking a hard look at things that are past their best. Are paving slabs loose or broken, does the pond leak, are existing plants to your liking, over-mature or gappy? Are the existing features where you would like them to be, are there views that can beneficially be opened up or things that require hiding from view? These are the sort of questions that you need to ask yourself.

Marking Out

The next stage is to get out into your garden and mark out what you intend to do, some sticks and string are useful or the kind of marker paint that is used on building sites. This is available in a variety of colours, you can use a different one for paving, ponds, planting, or lawns etc. Take care to allow plenty of width for paths, space for seating on paved areas and lawns if required, and allow plenty of space for plants to grow and mature into. Take a few photos from different angles of what you have marked out for future reference.

Allow plenty of space for plants to mature into

Take time to reflect

Now refer back to the notes that you made earlier, is what you wish to do practical, does it fit the available space, can it be achieved and is it possible within your budget?  Do any of the features need moving around from where you initially placed them, do others need to be added or even discarded? Again, these are the kind of questions that you need to be asking yourself. If at this stage your thoughts have turned into a bit of a fog you may benefit from some advice from a professional garden designer, otherwise you are now ready to proceed to with your project.

For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

 

A garden with a view, Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight – by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

The  garden that we created

What can you do with an awkwardly shaped sloping garden? 

We were contacted by a client in Carisbrooke, she was moving into a newly built house which had wonderful views of Carisbrooke Castle, unfortunately the same could not be said of the garden that the builders had left her with, it simply consisted of a grassy slope so steep that it was impossible for her to cut it. She needed a garden that was more easily maintained and landscaped to a high standard.

We assessed the site for her and advised her on what needed to de done, she then commissioned a set of scale plans from us which detailed the general layout and itemised what was to be planted. The garden had to be in keeping with the area, the house is on the outskirts of Carisbrooke with views both of the castle and surrounding countryside. An informal natural look was preferred combined with low maintenance . We recommended leaving the area to the front of the house more open as this naturally led the eye into the surrounding area, save for some Beech hedging that was planted to screen a wooden fence and under-planting the grass with spring flowering bulbs.

The garden had spectacular views of Carisbrooke Castle and the surrounding countryside

One of the biggest challenges was the steepness of the plot, the client was not keen on splitting it up into terraces so a different solution had to be found.We constructed a curving shallow flight of steps out of old railway sleepers, mass planted on either side with ground covering shrubs. The thin chalky ground in which these shrubs are planted has been enriched with a large amount of compost and mulched with a generous layer of bark flakes to help retain moisture and supress weed growth. An automated irrigation system has been installed to ensure that the plants do not run short of water during dry spells.

At the top of the slope to provide a level sitting area that made the best of the views we created an elevated deck and a pergola. Fragrant climbing roses, Clematis and a vine were planted up it, the whole structure providing some shade on sunny days and an element of privacy from being overlooked from neighbouring houses. A couple of planters for seasonal bedding were constructed on the front of the deck.

Newly planted

A modest water feature was constructed to the side of the deck, this consisted of a small pebble filled stream and a waterfall dropping into a rocky pool, with the water recirculated by a solar powered pump. The bubbling sound of the water running through this was most relaxing. This wildlife friendly garden attracts many kinds of birds, badgers and red squirrels.

Our client said:- “What I particularly didn’t want was a garden that took a lot of hard work. The way Tim has done it I can enjoy the garden and work in it when I want to. It is just a source of pleasure. Tim really was fantastic, he saw to all the work himself, was totally reliable and created the garden that I wanted. Everyone who visits here says how pretty the garden is.”

For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918