With Hampton Court currently in full swing, there's still time to nip along and admire the enormous creativity of designers and prowess of landscapers, not to mention some rather gorgeous (*coughs modestly*) Natural Stone Paving and Porcelain. Once again, designers have put us through our paces in their bespoke requirements and here's what you’ll see if you visit.
First up, Blind Veterans UK: It's All About Community Garden, designed by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer. This has gained, not only Gold, but also Best Construction Award for Landform Consultants for a garden that is alive with movement and colour.
Andrew and Dan chose Darleymoor Yorkstone (“Everything is British,” says Andrew, partly explaining his choice, “the stone, horticulture, oak, materials.”). It's a smooth contrast to the texture of the self-binding gravel and, as you'd expect, sets the planting off beautifully.
Each paving piece is bespoke because the entrance path narrows as it moves towards the centre of the garden. A slight hiccup with the exceptionally hot weather and the pointing meant that some pieces needed to be replaced. However, thanks to our ordered system, replacement took no time. “Every piece is numbered,” says Andrew, “so we could just order that piece to change it.”
Deeper into the garden a stone circle sits under a green oak pavilion. The potential difficulty here was that green oak moves, and can move quite a lot! “We gave London Stone a drawing and took a 50mm tolerance. It's precision cut—brilliant—and fits beautifully.”
Colour Box, designed by Charlie Bloom and built by Burnham Landscaping, gained Silver Gilt with a really gorgeous display of—you've guessed it—colour. Heightened by bright seating from GeoMet, the colours of the plants really stand out against the ink-dark pond and Midnight Black Limestone. “We used grey-black grout,” says Charlie, “as I wanted it to blend in and not stick out.” The limestone was treated with colour enhancer, so it looks very dark. “It disappears,” adds Charlie. Not usually something we like to hear about our paving! In this case, though, it's a strong foil that balances the colours and really lets them shine.
Also adding vibrant colour to his show garden is Edward Mairis, whose Journey of Life, built by Xardin Gardens is packed with meaning. Helping to tell the story, our Volcano Ceniza DesignClad fits into the area representing the past, where its cloudy greys contrast with the vibrant rainbow sky stretching into the present.
Look down as you sit in the central space which represents the present—a serene and ordered area to aid contemplation—and you'll see Kirkby Porcelain, recently added to our Porcelain range, which offers interesting veining and warm greys to lift the dark planters, green foliage and black uprights that make up this glass-walled oasis.
Going for a totally different grey, Frederic Whyte has chosen Grey Yorkstone for On the Edge: The Centre for Mental Health Garden, built by Benton Brothers twins Adam and Charles, and earning Silver Gilt. This put us through our paces, as there are a lot of curved, stepped copings with three different textures—a straightforward Sawn, combined with Premium Honed and Fine Brushed, the leathery texture of the latter providing a particular contrast.
Adam Benton loves it. “It's a blinding product,” he said. “Such a hard material, with such a soft character.” The quality, he says, stands out. “When laying a good material it responds well. It reacts differently to how you lay it.” When one of the copings didn't look quite right, Craig paid a visit and we made sure we had a replacement cut and on site within twenty-four hours. “London Stone made the job easy for us,” adds Adam. “It's not just the stone; it's the people you work with.”
Rhiannon Williams plumped for Flamed Grey Sawn Sandstone for her Urban Rain Garden, which is a collaboration between Squire's, Landform Consultants and us. Coping was made in three different sizes—”They've a lovely finish with the honed sides,” says Rhiannon—and curved grooves were precisely cut into the patio.
They direct water off the patio, down into the garden. To do this, they were cut to an increasing depth, shallower near the house, so water runs down the fall—more precise programming for the CNC machine.
For Rhiannon, this was her first RHS garden, although she did a trade stand last year and has worked at RHS Hampton Court for five years. It's a large garden too. “It's very nerve-racking,” she admits, “and very exciting.”
You have to delve into the centre of the Perennial Sanctuary Garden to find our Hard Buff Yorkstone. The spiral-pathed garden, designed by Tom Massey and built by Landform Consultants, earned a Silver-Gilt and represents through colour the emotions felt by landscapers and gardeners who seek a helping hand from Perennial. “The outer edge is red, chaotic,” says Tom. “Then you move through purple to blues, and at the centre is green bamboo—green is the most restful colour. As you come back out, you return to the reds but are more able to cope.”
Around a metre-wide circle at the heart of the central sanctuary, setts were laid in circles. Tom used kiln-dried sand to fill the gaps, rather than pointing. “The Hard Buff works really well. The radial setts lead the eye to the water feature and sets a neutral background.”
Two Hard Buff Yorkstone benches also feature in the sanctuary. Tom sent us drawings in Sketch-Up and we created them with a bespoke curve to their clean, chunky outline. “I'm really pleased,” says Tom. “They're fabricated exactly to the drawings and a nice piece of engineering.”
Not all gardens are being judged. Hampton Court offers a few Show Features this year, including APL's A Place to Meet. Pop along for an eyeful of our Desert Sawn Sandstone. Its light colouring offers a welcoming space where the long seating area will have you sitting down for a chat. APL are here to make the public more aware of the association so, hopefully, more people will seek out APL members for projects.
So congratulations to all for absolutely cracking builds. And finally, don't forget that as with RHS Chelsea in May, we have our first trade stand at Hampton Court this year. Pop along to Stand 611 for an eyeful of our full Porcelain range, as well as natural stone paving, and ask us anything you like.
Our latest brochure (loads of information packed into it!) is there to be taken away in a handy cotton bag, and as ever we're looking forward to a good chin-wag with you!