Porcelain – the new wonder paving material

by Jane on February 7, 2017

  You may think of exquisite Chinese pots, or bathroom tiles - smooth and slippery - when you think of porcelain. But porcelain is now a fantastic non-slip material for paving, in all kinds of finishes.

It's made of earth and ground up stone, basically quartz, kaolin, feldspar and clay, fired in a hot oven then ground down at the edges for very consistent sizing. In the process, you can have all sorts of effects: wood as well as stone. If you have a bi-fold door with wood or stone floors internally, you can obtain a beautiful flow effect between house and patio by using a matching porcelainStone effect paving with bi-fold door product outside. The Corten Steel colour in porcelain is a fifth of the price of fashionably rusty Corten steel. Manufacturers are also producing wall cladding products and planters which go with the finish of porcelain paving. On top of this, it's hard-wearing, very consistent in texture and product, easy to use and beds down well as paving.  It doesn't weather and is colourfast, and you don't have to seal or wash it.  And it has high slip resistance, which can be a bugbear with worn-down stone. So what are the drawbacks?  Any landscaper that uses it will tell you that it is hard to work with.  You need a lot of quality diamond blades to cut it with and the right equipment.  You need to bond it with something called 'primer slurry'.  The timing is important -it needs to be sealed before the frost can get in.  And another little thing - the Italian factories that make it all shut down in August and December, to maintain the equipment, so plan ahead. Colours may vary between batches, so put the batch number on your paving in order to get the right colour if you need to replace a tile. And most of all, at the moment, noone has had paving made out of this material for very long, so we don't know how it performs long-term.  The benefits and hard-wearing properties would seem to augur well for it.  Go to your local builder's merchant and have a look at the product to compare with other materials.  Manufacturers include CED, London Stone and Global Stone. Warm wood effect porcelain   NB These notes are from various presentations at the recent paving seminar 'Paving the Way' by the Association of Professional Landscapers.  Additional information, both on manufacture and installation of porcelain paving, can be obtained from pavingexpert.com. Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save

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How to get ideas for your garden

by Jane on January 7, 2017

It’s nearly time for gardens to come alive again. If you have recently moved, or want a change, you may be thinking how best to use your plot when it gets warmer. Where do you start? Magazines like Gardener’s World may seem overwhelming if you are not familiar with gardening or want advice on layout, with many instructions for ‘what to do this month’. What you need to think about is:-
  1. a) your garden in particular: where it faces, what features it has, what soil, etc and
  2. b) your needs and tastes: who uses the garden, what do they like doing and what style do they like?
And what if you don’t know what style or features you want? Designers put together ideas onto a ‘mood board’ to show clients what a garden could look like. You could do this yourself, from magazines. Nowadays, however, there are some ingenious ways of doing this online. ‘Pinterest’  has many ideas– you set up a ‘board’, then either from Pinterest or elsewhere online, ‘pin’ photos onto your board. You can then edit it to something that feels harmonious when you view all your pins together.      NB: Beware idea overwhelm on this site, there are so many!pinterest-screenshot ‘Houzz’ is another of these sites, focussing on house and garden, with ‘ideabooks’ to collect pictures together. For suitable plants, the ‘inspiration’ page of Crocus is useful. And Shoot has plant and layout information from real gardeners about their gardens, sometimes with lessons learnt. shoot-screenshot Once you are inspired, you can design a plan yourself, or find a designer to help you. I can usually visit clients in South Northants. and elsewhere provide a postal service – see the rest of my site or give me a call on 01327 860350. Good luck! Save Save Save Save

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Mediterranean planting with a difference

July 27, 2016

Now is the height of the season for plants from the Mediterranean – suiting that warm but temperate climate that features mild, wet winters and hot dry summers. I aim to post this in time for you to get ideas for your garden when you go on holiday. Whether we will eventually have this climate […]

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Tropical gardens

June 29, 2016

Now that it’s been pouring down for weeks, and we all want to go anywhere warm, here is an article from ‘Houzz’ about how to get a tropical feel in your garden.

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Action Week for Flowering Blossom (and Chelsea)

May 31, 2016

It’s time for the countryside to explode in frothy blossom. The Northamptonshire hedgerows are decked out like a wedding cake in creamy white hawthorn blossom, with masses of cow parsley flowering below it. The artist David Hockney called this short period of time ‘action week’, as everything seemed to come out at once after the […]

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Trees for small gardens

April 15, 2016

I have been designing a planting plan for a small garden, about 9m across by 11m deep, overlooked by other houses as are many new gardens nowadays. The problem is that to provide a screen one must also cut down on sunlight a little, as the garden faces southwest. I have included a tree on […]

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What plants do you need for your space?

March 21, 2016

It’s the peak season for plant buying and getting out in the garden. How do you decide what to buy for your plot? I have just designed a planting plan for a little courtyard garden, and think some of the principles I used might be useful this time of year. 1. Think when you want […]

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How you can help save the hedgehog

January 9, 2016

(Photo © Kichigin/Shutterstock.com and BHPS)   Hedgehog populations have been declining by about 25% in the last 10 years. One thing we can do to help them is to make sure they can move freely between gardens, so that they have enough to eat and space to make a home. Jacksons Fencing have brought out […]

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Most popular outdoor living photos of 2015 from Houzz

December 30, 2015

I am excited that my work has been featured in ‘Houzz’, in their end of year review, as one of the 20 most popular photos of 2015.  See photo number 5 below, which is part of this project explained on my website. Happy New Year to all my readers! The Most Popular Outdoor Living Photos […]

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Winter pots and spring bulbs

November 10, 2015

Now’s the time to plant up a container to brighten your winter months.  Many have already done this, keeping up with Monty Don (Gardener’s World) and the nurseries are already running out of plants.  However I am only just thinking about this as the geraniums (pelargoniums) have lasted so long this year. I never used […]

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