Monday, 19 March 2018

The APL awards 2018

The annual awards ceremony, sponsored by Bradstone, took place on Friday 16th March 2018 at The Brewery, London. It is a day to celebrate and recognise the outstanding landscaping carried out by members of the APL (Association of Professional Landscapers)

Ayegardening were thrilled to have been shortlisted as a finalist for our Weybridge project as the standard of entries to the 2018 awards exceeded expectations and it was amazing to be picked as a finalist from a record breaking number of entries. 

The APL awards 2018

As usual getting to the event means a lot of preparation and organisation before hand from organising breakfast club for the three of ours who go to school and then taking our littlest to Susan's dad to be looked after. It also means arranging school pickups as well. 

Although the event lasts from 10am - 4:30pm, a lot of the attendees like to go for a drink together afterwards. It is not something that we have done yet, but as our children get older we might find it easier. Whilst they are young it is much easier if 'mum and dad' get back in time for bedtime routine. 

On the way to the APL awards
Obligatory setting off car selfie! 

So Aye and I set off in anticipation knowing that it was going to be a great day as we would get to meet many other landscapers and plants people that we knew but also get to hear from some inspirational speakers. 

We were also delighted to be invited to sit with Namgrass at their table! and I must say we had a lot of fun with them!

The Brewery London
The entrance to the venue- The Brewery

Arriving at the APL awards
Arriving at the awards
The first person we met (that we knew) when entering the venue was the lovely Paul Baker from Hollandscapes. It is always nice to see a friendly face when you enter these type of events, as although we may not look it, we are quite shy! We talked with Paul about the standard of entries this year and how it is great to see new and established companies doing well and producing such a high standard of work. 

APL awards
Yay we spotted our project on the screens!

Then we spotted Neil, Lee and Kellie from Namgrass. We have talked with Kellie on the phone for many years but hadn't met her in the flesh yet so it was lovely to put a face to the voice! Lee, we knew as he has visited us quite a number of times and although I was convinced I had spoken to Neil before, we realised it was the first time we had met Neil. Those three did make us laugh all through the day, it really was great to spend time with them. 

On a table with Neil, Lee and Kerrie from Namgrass
Before we sit down at the tables it is time to chat and network with cups of tea and coffee, biscuits and delicious (moorish!) cakes. In this time we were able to chat to some lovely people from Citation and also a brief hello to Craig from Habitat Landscapes. 

Once the networking time has finished it is time to go and find our seats. At this point, we very briefly met Mandy from London Stone on the stairs! Pity we didn't get to chat longer but I am sure our paths will cross again!

Centrepiece on the table
Nearly a front row seat! 
On the table we also had the lovely Prisca and Gerald from Agentsgreen, with some of their workforce and Sue the garden designer. 

Ken White, Chairman of the APL

To kick off the event Ken White, the chairman of the APL said how it had been the best turn out to the APL awards and it is a great time more than ever to celebrate British landscaping.  He also talked about the threat of Xylella Fastidiosa and urged everyone to only buy their plants from trusted plant pass-ported suppliers who know where their plants come from and who wouldn't buy host plants from areas known to be infected by Xylella. 

Raoul-Curtis Machin
Next onto the stage was Raoul Curtis-Machin, director of horticulture for the HTA. He talked about the industry as a whole and how now, more than ever, we are all working together, going forward as one- from the suppliers, to the nurseries, landscapers, gardeners, growers and retailers. 

Chris Collins
Lastly, before lunch, is was time to hear from Chris Collins with a very educational and funny talk about his experience of being the head gardener at Westminster Abbey and the changes he made to the amazingly breathtaking and historic site. 

Time for lunch, well ok pudding as I didn't take a photo of lunch as I was too busy eating it!
During lunch I also got up to wander over to the table where Christopher Rixton was, from Greenbird Gardening as we have spoken a number of times on the phone but hadn't met yet! Next to Christopher was Debs from Garden House Design so it was lovely to briefly say hi to her too!

Then it was time for the awards announcements....

Mark from Landform announced an inaugural award - The Matthew Bradley memorial construction trophy. The well deserved winner was Ross from Conquest Landscapes. 

The award winners were announced with gold and silver winners displayed on the screen. 

The project value under £20,000 winner, sponsored by The Turf Group was Gabe Green Rooms for their modern courtyard in Central Brighton. 

The project value £20,000 - £35,000 winner sponsored by Citation was Lanwarne Landscapes from they Georgian close project. 

This was the category that we were a finalist for..... we achieved a silver!! So we were still pretty proud of that!!

Aye and Susan with the certificate for the silver award!

The other award winners can be found here: APL award winners 2018

Ken white rounded up the awards and then it was time for a bit more networking before heading home or to the organised pub meet! 

Most people that we knew, we met on the way out or on the stairs! Typical... note to self must arrange evening child care next time! 

Whilst waiting for our photo to be taken we met Lucy from Back to the Fuscia. It was lovely to meet Lucy as we had chatted briefly on Twitter but never met before. We hope we can work with Lucy in the near future! 

We met Matt from The Turf Group who was hilarious and said we are like Twitter celebrities. When Mandy from Green cube design came and said hi to us (lovely to meet you Mandy), Matt said he would act as our agent! haha!

Matt and Mick with Aye and Susan 

We also met lovely Mick from Vision Landscapes and had a nice long chat- I won't go into all the detail here but he said some amazingly lovely things about us and it really made our year. 

On the way out (typical!) we bumped into Hilary and Dan from Oakley landscapes. We always seem to be leaving somewhere when we meet Hilary, so we must make an effort to speak longer to Hilary next time! A brief hello to Cormac from Conway landscapes too! 

I have most probably missed a few people but it definitely shows the community feel of the Association of Professional Landscapers and how we are all trying our best to excel in what we do, but also be there for others and support in the good times and the bad times. 

A very supportive network indeed! 

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Back garden landscaping in Crawley with new front gravel drive

In January of this year we had a client contact us who was the mother of one of our previous clients. She had a back garden which had large borders, an old patio and a lawn. 

Barbara needed a back garden which was more manageable, with less planting space, a new patio area and reduced size lawn. She also needed some new fencing and trellis to hide the garage. In the front garden Barbara wanted a driveway extension for more parking for her family and also it was too much for her to maintain the plants and lawn in the front. 

The before photos:

After discussion over materials, Barbara decided upon raj green sandstone as she liked the different colours. She chose Woodblocx raised beds as they are long lasting and well built. For the driveway Barbara decided to go with a gravel grid driveway as it is cost-effective. 

The initial ideas sheet for the back garden

We were able to book Barbara's project in for March as we had a slot to fill as another client had needed to put back their project to later in the year. This made Barbara delighted as she got to have the garden landscaped before Spring!

As we got started with the garden, we discussed the lawn with Barbara and were able to give a competitive price for her to change to an artificial lawn and it was more cost effective to go with a square shape. It would give her the green that she needed but would help Barbara with less maintenance and it would mean she wouldn't need to pay a gardener to mow a small patch of grass. 

Here is Barbara's transformation, we will let the pictures do the talking!

Thanks for reading.

During the clearing phase the snow started!

No stopping for the team! 

Building the woodblocx in the snow!

We cleared the front drive of the lawn and flower beds, installed the base and put down grids from Core Gravel.
Now ready for the gravel.

The patio being constructed

A progress pic that we shared on social media

Job complete: 

You can see more of our work in the following places: 

Friday, 9 March 2018

Garden re-design in Reigate, Surrey

In July 2017 our client's approached us after having their garden designed by Renee Canter from The Girl Who Gardens

They had some designs drawn and they wanted to develop their garden that was around 10m by 18m. 

After some discussion over what the redesign would entail and providing a ball park figure for the work, we set about arranging a site visit to assess the garden and discuss materials. 

We suggested that we leave the planting to Renee due that being her area of expertise. 

The aim of the garden re-design was to construct a decking area at the back of the garden, making the most of the sunshine with a shade sail. The client had a shed that they wanted re-positioning but also we were to construct a new potting shed alongside it. 

The garden was booked into February 2018. 

Initially the plan was to have raised beds in front of these sheds and make it into a 'working area' in the garden, however after some changes to the size of the deck this meant the beds would no longer work at the back of the garden. Aye then came up with a new design for the sleeper raised bed and this was constructed near the main patio. The client also made a change from softwood decking to a more long lasting composite deck. 

The patio that the client had already was yorkstone and they were keen on reusing this. So this was taken up and relaid. 

Other areas were a small artificial grass area outside the utility area for play equipment, a place for the trampoline to go with bark mulch underneath, a new lawn, new fencing at the back and beds prepared with soil ready for planting. 

Here are some of the progress photos and completed project photos. Towards the end the snow fell for a few days so we didn't get as many photos as we liked but we hope to get more once the garden is planted up. Also, the team forgot to take photos back towards the house! 

Thanks for reading!
before landscaping
Before Photo

deck frame construction
Deck frame construction
Curved sleeper raised bed
Curved sleeper raised bed

Sail shade poles
Sail shade poles going in

Setting out the flower bed lines
Setting out the flower bed lines

New close board fencing
New close board panel fencing at the back of the garden

shade sail
Trying out the shade sail 

Saige composite decking
Saige composite decking being installed

Grey composite decking
Composite deck drying from all that snow!

View towards the back of the garden
Positioning the garden lights
Positioning the garden lights

new lawn
New lawn and new potting shed

Composite decking
All ready for the warmer weather!

Grey composite decking
Grey composite decking

Some more photos given to us by the lovely Renee:


New lawn, deck and raised bedNew lawn, deck and raised bed

New lawn, deck and raised bed

You can see more of our work in the following places: