WoodBlocX

  • Top Tips For Designing Your Dream Garden

    A new garden design – or a new determination to transform your garden – can be a daunting prospect. Caitlin McLaughlin, the RHS Young Designer of the Year 2016, gives us her take on what makes a successful garden design in the above video.

    Below are some tips on things to consider when preparing to design a garden.

    Before you start, spend some time thinking about exactly what you want the garden for. Do you want purely ornamental planting, or productive areas as well? Your plans might have to be amended as you go along to accommodate different circumstances – adding lower maintenance areas for example, or including more veg-growing space because you’ve discovered you enjoy cultivating plants for the kitchen. WoodBlocX can be used to build a wide range of raised bedsplantersseatingedging and even ponds – in a variety of shapes and sizes and all without a power tool in sight.

    Another consideration is how much, if any, lawn do you want – do you need to supply a sports pitch or play area for the children? What about seating and entertaining areas and storage - where’s the lawnmower going to live? Even the most difficult-looking of gardens can be transformed with a bit of thought. A steep slope can be terraced to create a stepped garden with flat beds and paths. Front gardens and courtyard gardens are often neglected, but a few simple beds or some edging can really transform their look and feel. Corner beds are especially good for small urban courtyards – WoodBlocX have single and multi-level options, or you can give them your specifications and receive a free bespoke design.

    After assessing what you want against how much time you will have to look after it, amend your plans as necessary. Once these decisions have been made, then it’s time to design your garden.

  • The Best of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017

    This years RHS Chelsea was bigger and better than any of the previous shows. It was home to eight Show Gardens, five Fresh Gardens, nine Artisan Gardens and more than 100 floral displays.

    Artisan Garden highlights included the 2016 winner of Best Fresh Garden, Gary Breeze, who designed a garden which features the replica of an 800 year old boat which was discovered in the Norfolk Broads. Meanwhile, Ishihara Kazuyuki returned for his 12th year with Gosho No Niwa inspired by the Kyoto emperors of Japan, and the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí was the focus of Sarah Eberle’s Viking Cruises Garden of Inspiration.

    Fresh Garden highlights included Jack Dunckley’s The Bermuda Triangle which resembled an active volcano surrounded by tropical planting. At 23, Jack was one of the youngest garden designers ever to exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Kate Gould’s City Living demonstrated how to create a usable green space in an urban apartment block and Mind Trap by Ian Price, described his personal experience of depression.

    In the Show Garden category, James Basson re-created the stunning Maltese landscape for the M&G Garden: Melitense. Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins teamed up for the third time at RHS Chelsea with The Chengdu Silk Road Garden which combined architecture and planting in a conceptual East-West landscape with a dramatic ‘Silk Road’ bridge linking the different elements of the garden. Lee Bestall celebrated 500 Years of Covent Garden, while Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam aimed to highlight endangered heathland for Wellington College with Breaking Ground. Chris Beardshaw meanwhile worked with the National Youth Orchestra on the Morgan Stanley Garden.

    The jewel in the RHS Chelsea crown, a 12,000sq metre marquee big enough to park 500 London buses, featured more than 100 exhibits from the world’s best nurseries, growers and florists.

    Also in the Great Pavilion, the Discovery Zone featured the Come to your Senses Eco Garden by Scotts Miracle-Gro aiming to tackle the overstimulated and sedentary lives of children in the UK, with a design that encouraged children to enter the haven of a garden. The British Ecological Society’s Delight in the Dark showcased the diversity of shade tolerant plants.

    Taking inspiration from the environmental issues surrounding bees, Burncoose Nurseries shone a light on the lesser-known plants pollinated by flies, moths and beetles, while Raymond Evison created a contemporary design inspired by the seashore. It featured sand, pebbles and five large waves running the length of the exhibit, each of which had a clematis arranged on and below them.

    Birmingham City Council brought the whimsical and wonderful world of Rowland Emett to life with a floral re-creation of ‘A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley’, the last-known machine made by the cartoonist and inventor in 1983.

    Sarah Eberle returned with Hillier Nurseries, assisted by 2016’s RHS Young Designer of the Year Caitlin McLaughlin.

    Just some of the anniversaries being celebrated in the Great Pavilion included the Hardy Plant Society, which featured 60 hardy plants for its 60 years, and Hooksgreen Herbs which celebrated 10 years exhibiting at RHS shows. Fibrex Nurseries created a tiered exhibit in tribute to the 30th anniversary of the National Plant Collection of Pelargonium, and Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants returned to the world-famous flower show for its 25th year.

    Nurseries exhibiting for the first time included Hare Spring Cottage Plants with their collection of Camassia, Calamazag Nurseries and the Delphinium Society.

     

     

    Here is a list of all the winners from the show:

    Show Gardens

    GOLD – Royal Bank of Canada Garden
    Design – Charlotte Harris, Build – Landscape Associates

    GOLD – The Linklaters Garden for Maggie’s
    Design – Darren Hawkes, Build – Bowles & Wyer

    SILVER-GILT – Silk Road Garden – Chengdu
    Design – Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins, Build – Bespoke Outdoor Spaces

    SILVER – The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden
    Design – Tracy Foster, Build – Landform Consultants

    Fresh Gardens

    GOLD & BEST FRESH GARDEN – City Living
    Design – Kate Gould, Build – The Teamlandscapers

    GOLD – Mind Trap sponsored by id verde
    Design – Ian Price, Build – Conway Landscapes

    SILVER-GILT – Inland Homes: Beneath a Mexican Sky
    Design – Manoj Malde, Build – Living Landscapes

    Artisan Gardens

    GOLD & BEST ARTISAN GARDEN – Walker’s Wharf Garden supported by Doncaster Deaf Trust
    Design – Graham Bodle, Build – Walkers Nurseries

    GOLD – Seedlip Gardens
    Design – Dr Catherine MacDonald, Build – Landform Consultants, Supported by Gadd Brothers

    SILVER-GILT – Hagakure – Hidden Leaves
    Design – Shuko Noda, Build – Frogheath Landscapes

    SILVER – The Poetry Lover’s Garden
    Design – Fiona Cadwallader, Build – Landform Consultants

    SILVER – The CWGC Centenary Garden
    Design – David Domoney, Build – Arun Landscapes

    Suttons took the Chelsea Plant of the Year 2017 award for Mulberry Charlotte Russe (‘Matsunaga’), exhibited on the 40 Sunbury Road stand.

    HTA Members who have won medals in the Floral Marque include:

    GOLD – Burncoose Nurseries
    GOLD – David Austin Roses Ltd
    GOLD – Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants
    GOLD – Hillier Nurseries
    GOLD – Peter Beales Roses
    GOLD – Walkers Bulbs @ Taylors

    SILVER-GILT – Cooks Garden Centre
    SILVER-GILT – Kelways Plants

    Discovery Zone

    GOLD & BEST DISCOVERY EXHIBIT – The Scott’s Miracle-Gro Company for the Come to your Senses Eco-therapy Garden.

    SILVER – Capel Manor College – Compost, Energy Light

    Bespoke Outdoor Spaces, Zion Landscapes, Morgan Oates Ltd and Barcham Trees were all involved in 5 Star Trade Stands, whilst TKE Landscapes got a 4 Star.

  • BRICK DINOS EXHIBITION!

    Step back in time with Brick Dinos! Enter the Jurassic period like never before and meet the dinosaurs face to face, each one masterfully built using LEGO® bricks. Working in close collaboration with a paleontologist, lego artists have painstakingly recreated some of the largest beasts to ever walk this earth in miniature LEGO form! Come face to face with dinosaurs from the air, sea and land and even compare yourself to those that roamed the Earth millions of years ago. Can your whole family fit into the footprint of a single dinosaur?

    We were really proud to be involved with the project, and supplied all the retaining walls and the sandpit used in the exhibition. Our WoodBlocX are so similiar to LEGO that it was the perfect fit for the exhibition. So if you're in the North East of England any time soon make sure you get along to the exhibition!

    The exhibit runs from February 4th 2017 to June 4th 2017 and you can find out all the details here - http://www.experiencewoodhorn.com/coming-soon...brick-dinos/

  • Our Favorite Garden Designers

     

    There's a lot that goes into designing a dream garden, so to help get your creative juices flowing we have compiled a list of our top favourite designers for inspiration, and you can watch how Rick McKeever from Lovania Nurseries used WoodBlocX to build his award-winning garden in the above video.

    One thing before you start though, spend some time thinking about exactly what you want the garden for. Do you want it for purely ornamental planting with WoodBlocX raised beds and ponds, or are you looking to create productive areas as well? How big a lawn area do you want, if any? Do you need to provide a sport’s pitch or play area for children? What about seating and entertaining areas - and storage (where’s the lawnmower going to live)? Once the decision has been made, assess what you want against how much time you will have to look after it and amend your plans as necessary. Only then is it time to design your garden.

    Now you have decided about what you want your garden to be used for, click on any of the designer links below for inspiration and ideas which you can adapt and implement in your own garden.

    The design needn’t be complicated, but if the idea of working it all out fills you with dread, or even if you just want a second opinion, think about using a design service. Unlike others however, the WoodBlocX design service is completely free and puts you under no obligation to buy. All you need do is send us a simple sketch, the size of the area you're looking to work with, and we will come back with a garden design featuring plantersraised bedspondsseating areas or retaining walls using the WoodBlocX system to fit in perfectly, depending on your original requirements. The more detail and information you can provide the better, but if you are struggling, even a few simple lines and rough size estimates will be enough for us to get started
  • The new Health and Wellbeing Garden at RHS Malvern

    It was a great pleasure for us at WoodBlocX to recently work with the wonderfully talented Jekka McVicar on another garden project. This time the focus was on Health and Wellbeing, and the design incorporated a number of curved sections as well as a central seating area.

    The garden forms the focus point of the new Live Well Zone at the RHS Malvern Show. The garden is inspired by the increasing need for reflection and escape from the stresses of modern life, and seeks to preserve and share the vital knowledge of how horticulture and its associated therapies can help soothe the mind, body and soul.

    The garden brings to life a living, working space for the mind, body and senses, and demonstrates the role gardens continue to play in our health and sense of wellbeing. The WoodBlocX team were on site for only four days to install the garden infrastructure before Jekka and her planting team were able to come in and really bring the space to life.

    Jekka McVicar, who is the RHS Ambassador for Health through Horticulture, said: “I am delighted to have been asked to create a lasting garden for RHS Malvern Spring Festival. I want the Health & Wellbeing Garden to be a usable and beautiful space that is embraced by people of all ages – a space for growth, education and reflection. With the Malvern Hills as a dramatic backdrop, RHS Malvern Spring Festival is such a beautiful place and because it’s at the start of the summer, it’s always a time of such optimism. It is a real privilege to bring this garden to life as part of such a dynamic and exciting show.”

    The Health & Wellbeing Garden is in support of Pathways, a work-focused day service for adults with learning disabilities and difficulties. Pathways use gardening and the environment as an educational tool to introduce young adults to the working world. Clients of Pathways benefit from gaining vital skills for entering the working world including trust, communication, interaction with peers, taking direction and responsibility for themselves and others.

    Leaving a legacy, Jekka’s garden will provide Pathways with a nurturing space to continue their works in encouraging clients to grow, and WoodBlocX are proud to be associated. Throughout the show times, Pathways will sell plants and refreshments from the garden and funds raised will go towards covering the costs of the residential trip taken twice each year for clients of Pathways; a vital retreat for clients that contributes to their sense of wellbeing. Outside of show days, Pathways and local schools will host sessions in the garden, a garden which aims to inspire visitors of all ages and abilities with engaging elements tailored for all.

    The Planting

      The theme is all about wellness of body and mind:
    • Rosemary has been scientifically proven to restore the memory
    • Fennel is a good digestive
    • Woad is a traditional dye plant
    • Heartsease helps mend a broken heart
    • Lavender helps relax the mind and body
  • Wildlife gardens: getting close to the action

    We all know that our country’s wildlife is getting increasingly put-upon by growing urbanisation and commercial agriculture. So what can we do to help? Well, there are a number of very simple and easy steps to take that will not only lend a hand to the wildlife, but also bring some excitement to our gardens as well.

    Bees are increasingly under pressure, so why not plant some good plants for nectar? Often bees get stranded when out looking for food, so providing a little staging post will allow them to recharge their batteries and make it home to the hive. This is especially important in early spring and autumn when the weather is a bit cooler (affecting their energy levels) – so include plants such as primroses, lungwort, asters and sedums, as well as summer flowers such as cosmos and Echinacea.

    These are of course just a few suggestions – there are many more flowers suitable for bees. When choosing your plants, keep the bees in mind by going for open flowers. Many of the modern hybrids have double flowers with so many petals that it’s impossible for the bees to get to the nectar in the centre. Daisy types are especially useful, but there’s a list supplied by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) that details good plants by type and season (https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/pdf/conservation-and-biodiversity/wildlife/rhs_pollinators_plantlist) and look for the ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ symbol on plant labels.

    When planting for butterflies, think ‘landing pad’ – they prefer flower types that have a large, flat top like yarrow and sedums, which give them space to land and drink the nectar. Again, refer to the RHS list for appropriate choices. Finally, if you include some plants that not only provide nectar in the summer, but also seed heads in the winter, you’ll get some bird visitors as well.

    With all this going on in the garden, it’s a shame to miss it. Watching wildlife going about its daily business is a great way to relax and forget about the worries of the human world, and so planting in raised beds allows you to get that much closer to the action, without getting muddy or grassy knees!

    Alternatively, for a front-row seat, why not add a raised bed with integral seating or a bench with planters at either end? WoodBlocX have a number of kits for both of these options, or you could use their free design service to create a bespoke bed or seat to turn your garden into a wildlife theatre!

    WoodBlocX uses only sustainably-sourced timber, and other components are created from recycled materials, so its environmental credentials are already very high making the application of WoodblocX products a safe and superior choice for your garden.

  • Right Plant Right Place: what does it mean?

    You may have heard gardeners talking about the ‘right plant right place’ principle, but what does it actually mean?

    In essence, it refers to working with Mother Nature rather than against her. By looking to a plant’s origins – where in the world it is from, the kind of environment it has evolved to grow in – we can ensure that we give it that same environment in our garden and maximise its chances of success.

    For example, if a rosemary plant, which has adapted to free-draining soil and the hot, dry weather of the Mediterranean, was planted in a boggy, cold spot in the garden, it would quickly wither and die. Similarly, if a hosta, whose large, thin leaves are adapted to maximise sunlight absorption in the dappled shade of damp forests was to be planted in a hot, sunny spot, its leaves would scorch and the plant would die. Raised beds are a brilliant way to create the perfect environment for plants that we might not otherwise be able to grow.

    The right soil is a crucial component for creating a specific environment, and by using a raised bed, it’s possible to mix together the exact type of soil different plant groups need. Here are some ideas of plants you could grow:

    • Acidic soils. Blueberries, cranberries, rhododendrons and camellias all need a soil with an acidic pH. If your garden has neutral or alkaline soil, but you’d like to grow these fruits and flowers, why not grow them in a raised bed? Alternatively, a specimen camellia would look great in a wooden planter, which gives the roots more space than a pot.
    • Plants from dry areas and hot countries – such as alpines and succulents – will prefer a shallow raised bed, and mix some gravel in with the topsoil as you fill it. 
    • If you’ve got a shady part of the garden that would be perfect for woodland plants such as primroses and bluebells, but that has no actual soil – perhaps by a door or in a passageway – why not put in a small or narrow raised bed to grow these plants and bring some life to the area? WoodBlocX can design beds to your specific needs, and have a large number of kits in a variety of shapes and sizes.

    Finally, don’t forget that raised beds can also offer several different soil environments in one bed: by segmenting the bed into different areas, and even different heights, the bed can accommodate separate plant groups in one area, which would never be possible in the open ground. WoodBlocX offer corner bedsrectangular beds and octagonal raised beds in a range of height and size combinations. For example, to create a herb bed to grow the full range of culinary herbs, use the shallowest part for the rosemary, sage and thymes, a deeper area for chives, lovage and lemon balm, which prefer a richer, moister soil, and a separate area for mints, which tend to rampage over other plants and are best contained within their own area.

  • Big Dreams Small Spaces

    Did you watch the first episode of the new series of ‘Big Dreams Small Spaces’? If you did, you’d have been treated to loads of beautiful shots of WoodBlocX being used in Glenn and Zoe’s garden transformation project! Monty Don was on hand to help the couple revitalise the awkwardly shaped green space into something magical.
    During the programme, Glenn and Zoe wanted to find a way to make their very steep garden more enjoyable by implementing level pathways and retaining walls. The solution was, of course, WoodBlocX! Glenn had heard of WoodBlocX beforehand, but had no first-hand experience building with the system itself. The team got straight to work planning and plotting the redesigned garden and assembled their bespoke WoodBlocX kit in a short space of time.
    “For the terrace we’re going to use WoodBlocX, built with a peg system, and they’re relatively easy to put together,” Glenn said on the programme. “Once you’ve got them level and square, it’s just like a big LEGO set made of wood!”
    In case you missed it, the full episode is available on BBC iPlayer right now.
  • Timber systems versus railway sleepers

    When considering the options for your garden building project – whether it be raised bedsplantersbenches or more, timber is often at the top of the list. It’s a natural product, relatively easy to use and cheap. Boards and planking can warp and bow over time however and cannot be guaranteed to be strong or durable enough, so railway sleepers are often seemed to be the only timber option. However, a modular timber system such as WoodBlocX has many advantages over sleepers.

    Construction

    • Sleepers are very heavy and awkward to handle. Their size can mean they are difficult to get into the garden, and you’ll need help to get them there and into place.
    • The individual WoodBlocx pieces are so light, small and easily carried that a child could build with them.
    • Sleepers require cutting, drilling and bolting together, all processes that take time, need expertise and create noise.
    • WoodBlocX are pre-cut, pre-mitred and pre-drilled so are quick and easy to put together and require no power tools.

    Environment

    • The origin of the timber for some sleepers cannot be guaranteed.
    • Most of WoodBlocX timber is UK grown, and it is all processed in the UK.
    • Sleepers are treated with a range of chemicals including creosote that can leach out into the soil or water. From there it can be taken up by plants (and who wants creosote in their veggies?) or poison the water in ponds.
    • WoodBlocX timber is pressure-treated with environmentally-friendly products.

    Design

    • Sleepers come in limited sizes, all of which are big. Their size limits a design because they can only be used in a few ways.
    • WoodBlocX are significantly smaller so can therefore be used to create more detailed designs and a more flexible approach to the whole garden. Curved and circular beds are also possible with WoodBlocX, designs which are not possible with sleepers
    • The width of the sleepers themselves takes up a lot of space that is essentially wasted.
    • WoodBlocX are only 75mm wide, allowing more space for planting or paths.
    • Sleepers – especially re-used ones – generally only come in one dull shade of dark brown.
    • WoodBlocX can be very easily painted any colour of the rainbow or clad in metal.

    Cost

    • Sleepers are expensive and can also result in a lot of waste..
    • WoodBlocX supply exactly what you need in pre-fabricated BlocX, at a fraction of the price..
    The WoodBlocX modular timber system is a great option for any garden project, and can be used to build raised beds, planters, benches and seats, raised pondsretaining walls and edging. They are cheaper, better to build with and more flexible than railway sleepers. Have a look at the website to see how they can be used in a garden, or give our team a call to discuss how we can help with either our kits or a bespoke design.
  • Sustainability of timber garden products

    It’s good to know that when you buy a product it is not just from an environmentally-friendly company, but that the good ethics are present all the way back down the supply chain to where that company sources its materials. When buying timber for a garden project it can sometimes be difficult to be sure where it has come from, but when using a company like WoodBlocX you are guaranteed not only a high quality product but also the highest environmental credentials.

    The modular timber constructions from WoodBlocX – raised bedsplantersretaining walls and terracingpondsbenches and more – are all made using mostly UK-grown timber (some shortfall is made up with Latvian timber that also meets the company’s strict guidelines). Using UK timber drastically reduces the ‘timber miles’ and carbon footprint of the product. Plus, when it comes to delivering the BlocX to your site, they stack easily on pallets for efficient transportation.

    Furthermore, WoodBlocX timber is accredited by the FSC® (FSC-C134890) (Forestry Stewardship Council ®). FSC®  is an international body that sets the standards for responsible forest management, so that you can be sure that your garden materials are from woodland that has its water, soil and ancient trees protected, and that the forestry operation does not use hazardous chemicals.

    The timber is then treated using a water-based preservative (Wolmanit CX-10), so there are no nasty chemicals to leach into your garden’s soil. WoodBlocX constructions are so strong that they don’t need foundations – even for retaining walls – so you won’t have to use any cement, which has many environmental concerns connected to it. The dowels that fix the BlocX together are even made using recycled plastic, so it’s all in all one of the greenest products on the market.

    The more UK-grown wood is used to make products, the more trees will be planted to meet the demand, and we all know that more trees in the world is a good thing. Imported wood can often be from areas that are not managed sustainably, causing untold damage to the earth’s wildlife and climate – WoodBlocX UK timber has none of those concerns.

    But the ethical aspects of sourcing materials extend to more than just the materials themselves. Using a product made of UK timber means that you are also supporting many UK companies, not just WoodBlocX themselves. The wood is not only grown but also cut in the UK, managed by forestry companies and WoodBlocX’s own sawmill - all of which create jobs in rural areas. Jobs bring money and life to rural communities, often in areas that sorely need them. Using a UK-timber product such as WoodBlocX is the smart choice, for the environment and for your garden.

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