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12 posts categorized "Books"

August 30, 2014

Source book -

As summer comes to an end we are starting to check out ways to stay out for as long as possible!
We recommend hoping over to

The site has a very good selection for all things outdoors including outdoor fireplaces.


August 2, 2012

For inspiration: Dwell magazine special

Dwell  teamed up with Western Window Systems to select 4 homes from the Dwell archives that  blurred the boundary between indoor and outdoor best.

We enjoyed the read. Read it here:!


Dwell : indoor outdoor spaces.

September 15, 2009

Reading ideas I like this week: Conran, Kennedy and ...

April 6, 2008

Rain gardens - a 'must have' in your brief to a garden designer

Grain17 I have already posted on water harvesting with the HOG or oversized planters. A step up from that is actually designing a garden/outdoor space so it is in itself not a consumer of rain but a harvester.

I now believe the time has come when any garden designer offering to create a garden without this feature or not offering to make the garden productive( ie edible) is very 'out of it' ! And no, I am not even a 'green forefront fighter' ...It just is common sense.It seems vain and ...well vulgar to just want a couple of flowers for the show ?

As the image chosen by the Telegraph shows it can be done in style.
Below you will find the very good review by the Telegraph of a book called 'RAIN gardens' by Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden which can be a good place to start thinking about the whole issue.

Rain gardens

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 17/07/2007

Elspeth Thompson investigates how to turn the rain to your advantage

Earlier in the year, we were dreading another drought, but as I write vast tracts of the country are still recovering from flash flooding.

Water feature made of a concrete rill
Valuable resource: Use rain to make a water feature

The weather over the past few summers has taught us that global warming is not just about higher temperatures; it's about coping with extremes at either end of the scale - downpours as well as drought, unseasonal cold as well as scorching heat.

A few years ago, gardeners were looking to the Mediterranean for inspiration to beat climate change, but drought-tolerant plants such as lavender and santolina don't take kindly to having their roots standing in cold water week after week. What we need, clearly, is a style of gardening that can cope with periods of hot and dry, and cold and wet weather.

It's a tall order, but a new book, Rain Gardens by Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden (Timber Press), has come up with some pretty good answers.

Building on practices developed in Oregon, in the north-west United States, over the past five years, it suggests that we make the most of rainfall whenever it happens - storing water for use during drier times, and incorporating features into our gardens that not only help prevent flood damage but also enhance the aesthetic, sensory and wildlife potential of the space.


This doesn't just mean installing a water-butt or two; it involves a complete re-think about how we value water as a resource.

At present, rainwater that falls on to buildings or hard surfaces is directed straight into drains, which rush it away as fast as possible into rivers, sewers or massive urban treatment centres, while we still rely largely on the mains supply for watering our parks and gardens. The recent trend for replacing planted areas with impermeable paving, concrete paths, patios and car parking, has only exacerbated the problem, particularly after heavy rains, when storm surges cause drains and sewers to flood. And when prolonged drought necessitates hose-pipe and sprinkler bans, our landscapes pay the price.

How much wiser, the authors argue, to design around a cycle that both slows and reduces water run-off and also stores any excess or delivers it wherever and whenever it is needed in the garden.

Their "stormwater chain" begins with the principle of reducing hard surfaces: using permeable surfaces (such as gravel and permeable paving) rather than "sealed" ones where planting is not desired, promoting mixed planting, and creating green roofs wherever possible. The increased vegetation intercepts heavy rainfall, slowing and reducing run-off, and looks beautiful into the bargain.

The next step in the chain is to capture run-off by disconnecting downpipes - practice on a shed to begin with. This can be done with conventional water butts, but also via more convoluted routes - emptying downpipes into deep-sided "stormwater planters", with run-off rills and gullies dispersing excess water to other spots in the garden where it can be used for irrigating vegetables, or emptied into a pond.

Another important tenet of "rain gardening" is to make water and its flow visible, wherever possible. Downpipes are thus replaced by decorative "rain chains" (in cup or link designs), while the rills and gullies that transport the water become attractive components in the garden rather than buried underground. Designed to look good whether full or dry, the gullies can take a wide range of forms - from a delta of six-inch-wide streams in which children can sail toy boats (substitute model cars or marbles when dry) to wider channels set within paving or steps inspired by the Alhambra or the Villa Lante.

These channels might lead into lower-lying "swales" - dips in the landscape, lined with pebbles or planted with vegetation that can cope with periods underwater - or run into permanent ponds, which can overflow, when needed, into further swales beyond.

Functioning best when long, shallow and meandering in form, swales slow the progress of excess water, allowing for natural evaporation into the air and absorption into the soil.

Only when they themselves become full, at the very end of the stormwater chain, is excess water diverted into the conventional drainage network.

Rain Gardens' authors stress that it is by no means necessary to include all elements of the chain into your garden. Just one or two will break the conventional drainage chain of roof or paved surface to sewer, but combining two or more ideas will multiply the benefits.

The idea of designing an entire garden around the intermittent presence of water is, however, extremely inspiring, and one I feel certain we will see more of in the future. If it helps to sound the death knell of the now-ubiquitous "water feature", run on mains water, powered by electricity, and often stylistically parachuted into the garden, with no use or relevance to the rest of the scheme, I, for one, feel it will not have come a day too soon.

  • Rain Gardens by Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden (Timber Press) is available for the reduced price of £23 + £1.25 p&p. To order please call Telegraph Books on 0870 428 4115.
  • April 3, 2008

    The basic must have book : Outdoors By Sir Terence Conran and Co

    I was at the Conran Shop this afternoon on the watch out for a few good ideas. I stumbled up this book. I had never wanted to buy it because the co-author GM designs gardens I do not really love... But as I was in the shop, I sat down and discovered how wrong I had been . The book is totally inspirational. It covers everything and every new option: outdoor fireplaces, kids gardens, Hi tech options, family gardens, party gardens...

    It has  a very good section on how to make a productive ( IE G YO ) garden even in the tiniest patch with superb style. Sir Terence Conran was already designing kitchen gardens in 1999 - way before it was in fashion. Bravo Conran!

    June 12, 2007

    New ways of thinking about pools, spas and hot tubs: Vinny Lee provides the 101

    Swimming pools and spas, hot tub, and Jacuzzis are going through a real revolution: new options, new formats, new places to locate them... The book covers all the best novelties including the most innovative finishes .

    I love the idea of steel pools (the one she showcases by architect Gunther Weidner will convert more than one!).


    January 1, 2007

    On trend : green rooftops and living walls

    Use of new spaces is certainly a key trend and a massive area for developments such as those you can already check out in the photo album on the right (roof top living) ie : lawns on roofs, roof top lofts but we are also seeing a trend towards mini  farms on urban roof tops ( kids paradise), cinema set ups to entertain on your roof top ...

    I 'll keep you posted but here is a good read by  Nigel Dunnett, Noel Kingsbury to get started. Click on names to browse and order.

    • For blue sky thinking on the future uses of rooftops ( not just for property developers...) read SF chronicle article :click here


    December 30, 2006

    Graphic and surprising


    Versailles's gardens where built to surprise. I think work by Ron Herman in California carries the thought through to today.

    I love what they did for a California private home - to see more: link

    I discovered the work in the brilliant book : The New Garden Paradise in which some of the more luxurious gardens in the world are showcased. Fantastic book.

    November 5, 2006

    Creative lighting

    C_l A 101 of lighting today by award winner designer Michele Osborne.

    Lighting brings the finishing touch to any garden or landscape. It introduces magic and illusion by enhancing some spaces while leaving others shrouded in mystery. This innovative book reveals the very best and most up-to-date lighting effects as they have been used in contemporary gardens throughout the world. Divided into thematic chapters looking at the different uses and effects of light, the book covers a whole range of lighting styles from simple lanterns and fairy lights to fibreoptics and LEDs, used for garden rooms, patlos, pool areas, decking, pathways, roof gardens, and architectural features and plants. 

    November 1, 2006

    How modern art and the private garden have merged to create 'The Modern Garden'

    Synopsis of a book well worth reading The Modern Garden ( 'The great 20th century artists played an active, if sometimes private, part in the history of the modern garden. From groups such as De Stijl and the arts and crafts movement, to the artist Le Corbusier, the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, the artist Paul Klee and the landscape artist Dan Kilet, major designers have been engaged in a quest for the perfect modern outdoor space. This title researches the history of the modern garden and contains contemporary photographs of 12 modern gardens by two acclaimed garden and landscape photographers from Europe and America, Sofia Brignone and Alan Ward. 050028321401in03_ss400_sclzzzzzzz_v10564_1

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