Sunday, December 28, 2008

Working for the council ..... again

Another big planting scheme for Bristol City Council. This time at Brandon Hill, an early C20 park around a monument commemorating the fact that a Bristolian was the first European to land in the Americas (since the Vikings). So roll over Columbus. The existing planting is all very much overgrown dwarf conifers and once-fashionable shrubs. Nice atmosphere though, and a very much loved public open space. A whole bank of shrubs has been cleared away and the idea was for me to create a big perennial planting - slightly odd site though as there is little direct public path access to the site, but it is visible from a variety of angles - but with quite a distance.
So, I thought it needed something very visible and graphic, colourful obviously, but also strongly structural. And given that this is Bristol with a very balmy climate, I thought I'd go for lots of South African thingk like kniphofias, which will have the all-important graphic quality for months, crocosmias, agapanthus, plus lots other things but with a visual matrix of lowish grasses like Stipa arundinacea, deschampsia and the shorter molinias. So something that might look like a southern hemisphere montane grassland.
The general idea is for me to turn up before the planting crew, who arrive at 8am, set out as much as possible, and then hope we get it all planted in time. Setting out is very intuitive, I try to do all the larger and or very structual stuff first, filling in with less strongly structural. It is blended intermingled planting, virtually no groups of things, so quite difficult to get a large area done and then let the guys on to plant - you don't dare let anybody plant stuff before you have finished an area as otherwise you can't see what you have done and you cause a lot of confusion to the planting team. So you have to work real fast, and make instant and irrevocable aesthetic decisions.
very stony, had to use a pick axe in places but we managed to get 1365 plants done in 20 man hours.
We are all looking forward to what its going to be like in the summer.