Monday, 23 September 2013

Ann-Marie to talk at Decorex International 2013

September 24th, 2013 - 12 noon - Decorex Outdoor Living Tent, Kensington Palace

A dialogue between the disciplines

Award-winning garden designer, Ann-Marie Powell will be discussing how architect, interior designer and garden designer can better explore the needs of their mutual client to create integrated cohesive spaces that exceed a client's expectations.

Ann-Marie Powell is an RHS Chelsea Gold Medalist, author, journalist and broadcaster.
Her practice, established in 1999, specialises in creating contemporary gardens in the naturalistic style which enhance a client's relationship with their home, its environment and the wider natural landscape.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ecover Sponsored Planter

We're delighted with our Ecover inspired Planter for RHS Hampton Court 2013. 

It's called 'Abundance', and it forms part of Hampton Court’s temporary ecosystem. All the plants are edible perennials, so be you bird, bee, insect or human, here you can feast not only your eyes but your tastebuds too. I like to think of it as a forage-fest especially for the show. 

With huge thanks to the wonderful, gold and best in show winning Matthew Childs for the photo. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Independendent Gardening Columnist Emma Townshend has a dream.

We're delighted to let you know that Ann-Marie's skills as a garden designer were mentioned by Emma Townshend in her column in yesterday's Independent on Sunday.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Plans for Small Gardens

Though some of you will already know, for those that don't, I have a new book out.

Plans for Small Gardens aims to encourage each and every novice garden owner whose heart sinks when they look out of the window upon their own small patch of land. 

The book covers ten projects, covering varying garden styles, including plans, drawings, shopping lists and techniques to arm, encourage and hold the hand of anyone wanting to create and build a welcoming spot to garden, play, or simply enjoy a gin and tonic outside their own back door.

And I'm delighted to say, on the whole, it seems to be going down quite well. At the risk of sounding like an Oscars speech, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those who've written such lovely things about the book, my clients, and of course the wonderful photographer of the book, the hugely talented Rachel Warne

Just this weekend, I was thrilled and honoured to read Emma Townshend's piece in the Independent about 'Plans'. If you've a mo, feel free to read it here 

And if you'd like a copy, then I hope you might find it in your local library, or of course you can buy it here at amazon

Meanwhile, here's what Garden's Illustrated had to say about it in July 2012. Click on the images to expand the page......

And here, The English Garden in August 2012's issue

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Mount Usher, County Wicklow, Ireland

After day upon day of rain, murk and bone aching cold, Saturday found me in sun-soaked County Wicklow, Ireland, happily strolling the grounds of Mount Usher gardens and arboretum.
I'd spoken about the Robinsonian garden with my friend Simon Pratt (of family run company Avoca) when the business acquired a long term lease of the garden about four years ago, but I'd never had the time to visit.

Until now.

I was taken in by the gardens soft, gentle beckoning, head gardener Sean's genuine love for the place that he cares for and the atmosphere created by layers of green upon green upon green.

My amateur photos could never capture the serene mood of the place. 

I urge you to visit to soak it up for yourselves....

Monday, 19 March 2012

Sowing the seed.....

The  songbirds were obviously happy, singing sublimely whilst sunning themselves in the morning's crisp, sharp light. The sun beat on our backs strongly enough so as to facilitate a family breakfast alfresco, the first of the year. And as we sat there en famille, my two year old arguing with my seven year old about whose spoon belonged to whom and throwing scrambled eggs in the face of his increasingly irritated father, my 'cloaked-in-a-mask-of-kids-outdoor-entertainment' plan, of a type sure to be familiar to gardening mothers worldwide, was finally ready to roll out.

Operation seed-sow has been casually chugging along for a few weeks now. Windowsill propagators have been procured (Sankey propagators, and fabulous Windowsill Gro Kit 66cm, roughly £15 online), seed compost (John Innes) has been slid into deliveries meant for clients, and a couple of those cartoon smothered seed packets meant for ‘little green gardeners’ have snuck into the kind of seeds that mummy has every intention that this year she will sow.

You see, there are definite advantages of not doing Chelsea this year. After two autumns and springs of hard graft (ever since my youngest was born), spent dashing around, not sleeping, and generally being absent at this time of year (I confess that this has been also in mind if not body), this year I can spend precious, much-needed time with my children, doing mummy, every day type things. To my mind this definitely includes a whole-hearted attempt at getting them into gardening, if that's possible in a world where (for my seven year old at least), Wii, Nintendo and computers generally are king.

Suddenly this unexpected warm snap was my chance to begin carrying out that promise to myself, and to them. Seed trays were dispensed (one each, naturally, to prevent squabbling) seed labels flung upon the deck and permanent markers in various colours scattered attractively to allow for maximum label adornment. Watering cans loaded with fine sprinklers, seeds and tupperware for seed packet dispertion were on hand to allow for a factory line of seed sowing, hopefully minimising distractions from the task in hand and keeping the workforce focused. Even with the organisation of a type I never thought I had in me, I envisioned that we’d manage half an hour, max.

So three hours later, with both children STILL wanting more, 200 sunflowers of various types (OK, OK, but what great gifts, and how popoular will I be with the school gardening club and playgroup?), four varieties of tomato (a mix of bush and tumblers, cordons – who has the time?),  Angelica, Alcea, Mexican hats, Sweet peas and so on were all sown, labelled and in propagators. I actually had to beg my children to stop so I could cook supper. It was a wonderful afternoon of time spent together, mingled with the promise of more time to be spent together caring for the plants the seeds will eventually become.....wonderful. 

Plus, I may make gardeners of them after all…..

Delighted would be understatement.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Inspiration station #1

Whilst the start of every project is exciting, there are undoubtably those which take you deliciously off-piste - it's a wonderful feeling when an element of the brief, the garden situation, or the client's requirements engages you so completely that you're suddenly, helplessly wrapped up in exploring a stimulating, energising wealth of possibilities.

We've been considering two or three small gardens in the office for a week or two now. Usually, with a small garden, I would first consider the mechanics of the brief - how we're going to make the most of every scrap of space and so make the most of the client's time spent within it, how we'll create accessible, year round interest, hide the bin store, add the washing line and barbecue, explore the new space's overall style; it's materials, plants, lighting and so on - the atmosphere would come along during the design process, almost of it's own accord.

But all of a sudden (much to the irritation of my partner), I'm hooked. With these new spaces, I feel a shift in approach, an about turn in my thinking, and I find myself looking at these small spaces with a new eye.

Suddenly, for me, the most essential inclusion in these gardens shouldn't be the physical, but the more abstract experiential qualities of shadow, light and sky, to explore the relationships of these qualities in an attempt to produce an uncluttered, yet still engaging, small garden.

Suddenly the gardens on my board are so much about what we don't include than what we do, about what is brought into the space by nature, not us, the designers - a soft breeze, shafts of light, the sounds of the trees. We need to find a way to design these gardens (no matter their diminutive size) so natural elements can be enjoyed to their best advantage,  are fleetingly harnessed within the gardens to provide, not just an aesthetic, but a visceral, uninterrupted experience.

I want to take these gardens back down to grass roots level, forget the outdoor room and strip things back to the core. I want these gardens to be spaces to celebrate the sensation of being outside, because essentially THAT's the reason why we have gardens. Simple.

I'm once again reaching for Thomas Church and Jellicoe from the shelves and re-reading into the night. It's a joy. Just today I've fallen in love with the following quote from The Poetics of Gardens by Charles W Moore, William J Mitchell and William Turnbull Jr :

"Gardens exist in Sunlight. Without it the plants would not grow, the water would not sparkle, and the shadows would not fall. So the qualities of the sunlight that a site receives - its intensity, color, movement, and angles, it's filtering by atmosphere and foliage, its reflections off ground and water - create cadenced patterns that may sometimes recall but will never be quite like those of any other place."

We're still ruminating at sketch stage, but here are a handful of our inspirations......... Click on each image caption to find out more about it.......

Bonaire House by Silberstein Architecture 
The Swedish Pavillion by Fia Backstrom and Andreas Eriksson at the 54th Venice Biennale
Sandstone textural images
Casa Kimball by Rangr studio
Los Clubes by Luis Barragon
Natural textural images