Winter on site

27 January 2017

Acres of mud, icy puddles, a surprise deluge of rain, hail, sleet.  These are the realities of the new year on site for landscape designers. Despite the damp and cold, one of our projects, in the weather-beaten Cotswolds, is this year comparatively mudless; this time in 2016 it was still mainly a building site.  Whilst the paper plans stood firm, all that signalled ‘garden’ back then was the group of ancient chestnut trees standing strong against the wind.  We stood looking out over a piece of land with mud so liquid and deep it could swallow a wellie boot whole, and did.  It seemed un-promising. 

This week we stood in that same spot, on a routine site visit, and looked down over a rolling lawn, with swathes of dew-laden Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’  breaking in at the edges, punctuated by leafless (but no less beautiful) Betula nigra. The mud had gone, the garden had taken over.  The change was stark, and immensely warming despite it being -2°C. Work at this site continues to roll on, with tens of trees - Prunus ‘Taihaku’, Populus tremula amongst them - still to be planted in the short tree-planting season.  It may seem like nothing grows in our bleak british winters, but on a landscape build it is the time when trees seem to spring from the ground, as if no more than bulb shoots breaking through.  It is also the time for planning, programming, ordering.  We ready ourselves for the time when the days get (slightly) longer and (slightly) warmer, and things start really growing and changing at their own pace.  Before that time, we make the most of it being so dreary outside that even a landscape designer might be reluctant to leave the studio.

-Elizabeth Tyler

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