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  • It's Show Time!!!

    Posted by Pip Probert on 03 Apr 2015 at 12:25 PM
    It’s that time of the year, yet again… IT’S SHOW TIME!! This year promises to be as exciting and busy as ever. 2015 is the 10th Anniversary of Outer Spaces and we want to mark it in style! Next weekend, we will be packing our tool bags, and making the trip down the to the Three Counties for the first show of the season. The RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival is a wonderful show to be a part of. So early in the season, there are a completely different set of challenges. The first year we went down to Malvern, we ended up with frost damage, and last year we had so much rain it was impossible to move forward at some points during the build. But, this year, we are ready for it… bring on the RAIN, bring on the WIND - WE ARE PREPARED!! ‘Cornerstone’ is a simplistic design, with natural materials and a soft planting palette. I can’t wait to get my hands on those alpines, when we start to construct our 'erratic alpine worktop' (possibly not how I have described it in the client brief - as I am not sure how the judges would interpret that comment!) We will be keeping you up to date via social media and the blog on the trials and tribulations throughout the Malvern Show, so keep looking out for our updates. After Malvern, I jet off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to work as part of the planting team on the L’Occitane Garden. Although I have built my own designs down at Chelsea, it will fantastic working as part of a larger team,on a main avenue garden - can’t wait to smell the fragrances on the garden. Moving on quite quickly up to Edinburgh, where my RBGE Garden Design Diploma students will be building their very first Show Garden. It has been a brilliant project, and the whole team have already made me extremely proud with their organisation of the garden. We are all SO excited to get up there, and show the people of Scotland just what we can do!! With a few things in-between, we will gradually get to the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in July. This is the big one for me, as it is the home show. Ten years ago, me and family rocked up extremely fresh faced in the horticultural world and built our first Back to Back, ‘Simply Stylish’. After winning that Bronze Medal, I have never looked back, and this year we hope to mark the occasion with another medal (although it doesn’t have to be the same colour) ;) If you are visiting any of the shows that we are involved in, PLEASE come and say hello. We always like to meet fellow gardeners, or garden admirers. Have a lovely Easter and hopefully we will see you soon!!


  • Things to Look Forward to in 2015!

    Posted by Pip Probert on 03 Mar 2015 at 07:32 PM
    The spring is on its way and we are all starting to think gardens again - Thank goodness, I am very ready for the warm weather to arrive!! We have a busy year ahead with gardens to build at RHS Malvern and RHS Tatton Park where we will be celebrating 10 years of Outer Spaces Garden Design!! I will also be up in Edinburgh with my Garden Design Diploma students from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh whilst they build their very first Show Garden at Gardening Scotland 2015. This will be a great adventure for the both myself and the students and we will be keeping you all updated throughout the build. Today they received the Artisan Award which means they get some money to put towards the project, which is fantastic as they had to compete with all the other garden exhibitors. Next step, gold hopefully! These are just a few of the highlights that we be working on in 2015, so for more information… KEEP WATCHING!!


  • Tatton Park Flower Show - Gold Medal!

    Posted by Pip Probert on 03 Aug 2014 at 01:12 PM
    When I last wrote, we were all very excited and raring to go for the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show 2014. In what seems to be no time at all, the show has been and gone along with our beautiful garden ‘The Narrows’. Like a proud parent, I am very happy to announce that we won a GOLD MEDAL at the show!!! Things started off very well with glorious weather that lasted throughout (apart from one welcome, wet, rainy day). Sunshine makes a huge difference to the build process, allowing us to move quickly and materials can be left to go off naturally without being effected by the wet. We started with our pond, deck and raised planter that seemed to fly in rather quickly. This was then followed by the patio area and the home made wooden bench. Within 3 days the majority of the hard landscaping was in!! The fence, which was really our main constructed feature along with the twisted pergola took a little longer to complete. The entire garden was constructed out of Oak, which is a beautiful hard wood that gives a fabulous finish, but it did cause a few problems along the way. After all the posts had been routed, a few broken blades and a very soar shoulder later, (sorry dad!) we got them in the ground. Taking many hands to hold the rails as the fence was erected, this was the most time consuming part of our build – but definitely worth it as it created such a dramatic statement within the finished garden. Once the construction was complete it was up to me to fill the garden with plants, which is the part of the build I love the most. Although the pressure is generally on at this stage, I thrive from the scheme growing and expanding and also the reactions from on looking exhibitors as they take a well-deserved break from their own plots! Listening to comments and gauging whether people agree or disagree with your combinations helps future decisions to be made. I love to use unusual colour schemes in a garden, something that is a little different, or maybe a ‘typical’ combination, but with a twist. This scheme was something I felt would entice the people to look at the garden from the start. It also worked well against the Oak back drop. Reds, oranges and blues are all bold colours and the highlighted hints of yellow freshened the palette. On the morning of judging Toby Buckland and the BBC team, who were ready to start filming, greeted us on the garden! In a state of panic I started to unwrap my furniture and the props we use to make the garden feel lived in. The kind words given by he BBC team, and Toby’s very kind offer of carrying the furniture onto the garden seemed to do the trick. Snapping out of the panic and getting the garden finished ready for filming and judging! A very long, hot day followed as the other designers/landscapers and I wondered round aimlessly, and tried to prepare our stands for the public who would descend the next day. Once the Medals had been awarded, it was time to relax and enjoy the show. Our GOLD MEDAL was totally unexpected and so VERY appreciated, there had to be a little celebrating (of course!!!) The show week was brilliant, the weather held out, the public were fantastic and I gave daily talks in the RHS Grow Talks Theatre. This allowed me to talk to many people about how they could improve their gardens and solve some of the problems they have. Overall the show was a massive success for the Outer Spaces team and now we are back on the Wirral working on various projects. Not only am I working on gardens, designs, exciting school garden projects but I have flowers to create for a large wedding at Ness Botanic Gardens next week. Also my students are starting their 2nd year on the Garden Design Diploma at The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in the next few weeks, so we have to get prepared for the new Gardening Scotland project!! It was great to be able to show some of my students the Tatton Park garden and allow them to see the behind the scenes. (Thanks to those that came down from Scotland – not a short trip!) I better go and get on with it!


  • The Summer Holiday 'I'm Bored' Jar

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 17 Jul 2014 at 04:28 PM

    I'm bored collage

    As Charles Caleb Colton once wrote, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"... or in other words, I've totally nicked this idea from someone.  

    Yes, a month or so ago a friend shared a link to the Somewhat Simple website and its 'Mom I'm Bored' Jar.  I've since found these all over the place in various different guises but the core of the notion is the same: stockpile a load of ideas to keep the children entertained when bordeom sets in, add these to a container and then throw in a few chores just to create a sense of jeopardy when they venture to dip in their hand


  • 'The Narrows' Show Garden - RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

    Posted by Pip Probert on 02 Jul 2014 at 08:21 PM
    So far the summer has been very busy thanks to the beautiful weather we have been having (on and off!). So busy in fact that time has flown by and the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show is upon us! My team and I are so excited to get to site and start building our garden. The 2014 Hi-Vis jackets are ready and waiting and passes are stuck onto the vehicles. We are raring to go!! We decided that many of our clients have gardens that are awkward shapes and sizes. Plus they are often the same as all the other gardens in the road, until they have been landscaped. This garden was designed as an example of an average suburban garden. Sometimes they have an unusual shape and are often narrow. Here the plot has been divided into three main spaces. ‘The Narrows’ is suitable for a family allowing them to sit and dine together or each enjoy their own space. Making good use of a long thin plot! The first is calming as the occupant leaves the house, forgetting their problems as the walk over the deck that edges the shallow pond. As they are guided round the area there are numerous flowering combinations to see, including those planted within the wall units. As you enter the next room, a stainless steel sculptural feature greets you. There is a partition fence that pierces the planted border and provides seclusion for the sleeper bench. The lawn is a sufficient size for various activities such as a child’s play area but certainly doesn’t dominate the garden. The third area is totally enclosed by a horizontally slatted fence, and has a matching sculptural feature within the fencing. You enter the space via a ‘twisted’ pergola. This part of the garden is for dining and entertaining with a paved surface and a low raised planter. Climbing plants soften one of the boundaries with planted borders on the other two. “The Narrows” is in the Escape Zone at Tatton Park, plot no ES/191. Come along and say hello!!


  • How to plant a lettuce ball

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 01 Jul 2014 at 01:41 PM

    Lettuce ball with front cover
    My veg growing this year has taken something of a Darwinian turn.  Forget carefully chosen produce and well planned beds, it has been much more a case of 'survival of the fittest'.

    This is all thanks to those pesky slugs and snails (I have many more appropriate adjectives I could use there, but I shall resist).  They have demolished almost every crop - and sadly seem particularly fond of lettuce which is making our salads a little bare


  • Blackboard plant pots and Yellow Book openings

    Posted by Dawn Isaac on 04 Jun 2014 at 08:09 PM


    For such relatively small people, children really do have enormous egos.  I mean they can be incredibly cute, winning and sweet-natured but, let's face it there's a lot of "Me, me, me, me MEEEE" about them.

    This often manifests itself in them writing their name on everything, at all possible opportunities - in the sand, on misty windows, in permanent marker on playroom walls (which is also the point where they realise the downside of putting their own name down rather than forging the signature of an annoying sibling)


  • Blush Garden Build - RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival

    Posted by Pip Probert on 21 May 2014 at 08:44 PM
    Well a lot has happened since my last blog. We have been to Malvern, built our garden and returned home with a Silver Gilt Medal!! The show was fantastic… We were living on the site for the duration of the build up, show and breakdown period, which allowed us to really feel a part of RHS community that evolves over the month. The show ground has the most amazing backdrop and to be living at the foot of the Malvern Hills for 4 weeks with the iconic view behind us was truly inspiring! We had lovely neighbours, made lots of new friends and met up with all the old friends, and most importantly our garden was well received by the visitors to the show. Although we had a great time down in Malvern and definitely look back on it with fond memories, we certainly had a tough build! The word ‘jinxed’ springs to mind, in that everything we touched seemed to go wrong. Virtually everything that had been ordered (WELL in advance) and delivered seemed to be broken in delivery meaning that there was a lot of extra work required to put things right! After a 3 week build and working extremely hard to get the garden finished on time, the judging process actually felt like a release. Although not at the time, as that is the point where it becomes to late to change anything (and generally the tears start to trickle!) The judges came round and spent lots of time assessing the garden and discussing the pro’s and con’s, then the nail biting period begins as we await our results. Over night I had convinced myself that we wouldn’t be receiving a medal (– tiredness can be cruel!) But, in the morning we woke up early and walked up to the garden to prepare for the visitors, and there on the table was the medal. Running onto the garden to find a lovely big, shiny Silver Gilt Medal drove me to tears yet again! We had worked hard on this garden and all the struggling and problems we had solved to get to this point made the long hours worth it. From this point in, we could totally enjoy the show, and we definitely did! I got to meet the lovely James Martin and guide him round my garden, Joe Swift came for our regular show chat and also Carole Klein came over for photos on the garden. Overall the whole process was a big success and we had built a garden that we were proud of. Once the soul-destroying task of breaking the garden down was complete, we drove home talking about the last 4 weeks we had spent in Malvern and also planning the next one! After coming home and getting back into the real world, we immediately started working on a private garden. We have a few projects to get on with now and then we will start the whole process again but this time at Tatton Park, our home show. Can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into that! Stay tuned for a picture of the Tatton Park garden.


  • Helping out the nesting blackbirds

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 02 May 2014 at 12:53 PM

    There are blackbirds (Turdus merula) nesting in the ivy growing on the garden wall here. I noticed when I saw a female eagerly pecking at the half apple we’d put under the bench and flying into the ivy with a beakful of it. Seeing her going back and forth a few times, I decided to add a little extra for the young birds and went out to the compost bays to dig out some worms. These went into a plastic tray with a bit of the compost and the tray was put under the bench. Blackbirds can find their own worms, of course, but it’s interesting to see them eagerly gathering up the worms and taking them off to feed their young ones.


  • It’s all happening now!

    Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 25 Apr 2014 at 01:10 PM

    It’s the fourth week of April and the garden is a hive of activity. Now that spring is underway, the garden is reacting to the warm and rainy winter by racing into growth and the things look incredibly different to this time last year. The spring of 2013 was one of the coldest I remember and garden plants were set back by at least five weeks, not catching up until the end of May.