What an incredibly productive September we have had here at OBAB. After the very wonderful, but demanding scorcher of a summer put a lot of stress on many of our gardens – more on that later, we have been working on some really inspiring new creative challenges and design briefs this month.
We always love creating cottage gardens, and particularly enjoyed planting up a delightful old fashioned garden in the Highbury area: honeysuckles climbing up apple trees and contorted hazel; single petalled roses with chunky hips clambering along brick. Foxgloves and Veronicastrum, and a succession of lovely perennials to usher in every season. We are particularly passionate about persuading clients to include lots of native wildflowers in the planting mix: Everything from Ladys Bedstraw to Toadflax, Ragged Robin, Wild Carrot and Birds Foot Trefoil – the names almost as charming as the plants themselves! So important for encouraging biodiversity in the garden.
From a classic garden to a contemporary roof terrace, we have just finished planting up an elegant roof terrace in N7. The brief was purples and silver, greens and white. The finished result does look stunning.
We love nothing more than when we are given the brief to come into a dark and gloomy large overgrown garden, and do a makeover in a day. It is amazing how easy it is to create a new garden canvas from existing shrubs and trees – all that’s needed is a good big of pruning and let their be light. We have embarked upon several such projects in the NW3 area. But a garden does not have to be large to be beautiful. This month we have also designed and planted up a small courtyard garden in NW5. The key is to limit the planting palette to a few colours and cultivars, and allow for a 3 season succession, including plants with different textures and heights.
Creating community gardens is one of our greatest passions. This month we have been busy designing a garden for another large health practice. As proven by last year’s Kings College Report, social prescribing can be an important part of the treatment mix in a health centre. In particular, gardening can be of real benefit to help combatting loneliness and depression and mental health challenges. We believe that our health centres can, and should be, a place where we go to learn to ‘be well:’ A place to foster community; centres where we can all be inspired. To that end, we are happy to hear from any health centre in North London which has any spare green space which could be turned into an inspiring therapeutic garden.
We embark upon community projects free of charge.
Another community project we are currently designing is a forest garden for the SHP – Single Homeless Project. An amazing company working to help vulnerable and socially excluded people to transform their lives. More news in October when the garden is complete.
September heralds the start of the apple, pear and hedgerow fruits season. Due to the hot summer it has been a poor apple season, but along with the folk at Transition Kentish Town we have been busily picking all unwanted, windfall apples from the streets around us, and juicing them up in our cast iron press. Each year it amazes us how upon sampling the freshly pressed juice, children always comment how, ‘It almost tastes like the real thing.’ When asked what the real thing is…the answer is: ‘like we buy from Tesco!’ A sad indictment on how disconnected many of our youngsters are from the seasons, and any real connection to nature.
Returning to the subject of the hot summer, we know many of you out there will be have thoroughly challenged by keeping your lawns watered and looking perfect – and disappointed with the result. We say, get rid of those lawns, folks. Replace them with flowering lawns, corsican mint, or so many other wonderful examples. We have seen the proof this summer that a clover lawn works and survives with very little water. It is future proof.
We hope you enjoy this bucolic golden early autumn. Get out there and hunt for rose hips and rowans, hawthorns and sloes. The hedgerows are bursting with them. Perhaps even picking a few for that good ol’ sloe gin or hedgerow jelly.
Until next time…