WoodBlocX

  • 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.

  • Creating a Pond in your Garden

    Ponds are a fantastic addition to a garden, whatever its size, and not as difficult to create as you might think. 

    Water in a garden has an enormous value to wildlife – bugs such as pond skaters and water boatmen live in the water, birds can drink and bathe in it, and amphibians such as frogs, toads and even newts will make a home there too. With this additional wildlife in residence, your plants will benefit too – the amphibians are great slug-eaters, and the increased insect diversity will attract other bugs that will feast on aphids and other plant pests. Plus, of course, all this life is fascinating to observe.

    But you don’t have to dig a great big hole! By using the WoodBlocX pond system, you can create a raised pool that can be put on any surface – even a patio – allowing you to incorporate water into your garden very easily. The pond is just as easy to assemble as their other raised beds, and they will even calculate what size liner you’ll need. Choose from a pre-designed pond kit, or design your own (they can do all the difficult calculations for you).

    All ponds benefit from a variety of plantings, to offer the most interest to you as the gardener, and the most habitats for the different types of wildlife. Broadly they can be divided into three types – the oxygenators, the floating plants and the marginal plants. However you plant up your pond, always make sure you include some kind of ramp for creatures such as frogs and birds to get in and out of the water safely, otherwise they may drown.

    Here are some good choices from each of the plant groups to really get your Woodblocx pond system off to a good start:

    • Marginal plants. These are the plants that live at the water’s edge – and while they like their roots to be in permanently damp soil, their foliage and flowers are borne above the surface. Yellow flag irises (Iris pseudoacorus) and a variety of rushes and reeds will give a natural look. You’ll need to construct shelves around the edge of your pond (standing the pot on a brick is fine!) for the plants’ pots to sit on at the correct depth – check the label for this information.
    • Floating (also known as aquatic) plants. Water lilies are the most popular of this group, and lovely to include. They are available in a range of colours, but Nymphaea odorata types will add fragrance as well as beautiful flowers.
    • Oxygenators. These are essential to keep the water healthy, but can need reducing every year to prevent them taking over the pond. Most live submerged in the water. Good ones for smaller ponds include Hottonia palustris (water violet) which bears purple flowers on the water’s surface in spring and Eleocharis acicularis (water grass).

    To really complete the look, some WoodBlocX ponds offer the ability to add beds at the side of, but not part of, the pond – plant these up with a bog garden and you’ll have a beautiful, calming and wildlife-friendly pond in no time.

  • 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.

  • Christmas Shopping!

    If you are still in the process of last minute Christmas shopping, why not give the gardener in your life some WoodBlocX as a unique and useful gift that will get them started on that raised bed or planter which they have always planned on building? WoodBlocX can be despatched within three days of ordering online at www.woodblocx.co.uk, so be quick and get your wish list in now!

    Meanwhile, why not take advantage of the Festive break to start thinking about your garden plans for next year? Now is the time to get organised before the spring rush, so clean out any pots and seed trays so you are ready for sowing. Have a look at your seed stock and throw away any that have reached their sow-by dates. It’s better to buy fresh to ensure successful germination - so get out those gardening catalogues and order your seeds for next year and think about what to grow in your raised beds. Marshalls Seeds have a good selection of vegetables at www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk but bear in mind successional sowing needs to ensure a continuous supply and avoid the gluts.

    While parsnips can be sown as late as March or early April, why not sow some in early January, as they need a long growing season to produce decent roots, so the longer you can give them in the ground the better. To do this you should plant under cover, as January is still too cold and wet to go directly into your beds, and they may well rot with canker. I find loo roll inners make an ideal starter and you can then transplant the whole thing into your veggie plot in April, as the cardboard is bio-degradable and you won’t damage the roots.

    These are seeds best bought fresh every year as they do not keep well, so add some to your winter shopping list.

    If you are growing Brussels sprouts, they should be ready for picking in December…well it would not be Christmas Dinner without them! (Try steaming them with some chopped bacon and a dash of cream…delicious.) Clear away any leaves that are diseased and if you are growing other brassicas like kale or broccoli now is the time to net them to prevent attack from hungry pigeons. Also turn in the leaves of your cauliflowers to protect their curds and keep them nice and white.

    By now you should have lifted any other root crops such as carrots, turnips and beetroot and stored them in a cool, dark and dry place.

    During winter try and cover your raised beds with leaf mulch, as this prevents damage to the soil structure from heavy rain and will rot down to add in beneficial humus. Why not ask your local council for their sweepings from their parks and cemeteries?

    Planning next years’ kitchen garden is fun, but perhaps you are looking for inspiration for a new garden feature such as a pond or planter with a seating area? Have a look at the WoodBlocX website for some ideas and take advantage of our free design service. If you have photos of your garden but don’t know where to begin, please send them to us and we’ll be happy to come up with some ideas for you.

    Best Wishes for the Festive Season.

    We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to giving you more tips and advice next year. With the help of WoodBlocX we hope your New Year resolution will be to make this the year that you will finally make your gardening ideas come to fruition.

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