In the Press
Sky interviewed us for their 'Money and Property' programme:
House Beautiful magazine
Kim Williams, 48, a finance manager, and her husband Huw, 50, a partner in a property company, live in a four-bedroom townhouse in Twickenham, Middlesex. 'Before we moved here two years ago, we'd been living in a flat which only had a balcony, so we were looking forward to having a garden. Even though the garden here was basically just a yard, with concrete paving, a shed and nothing else, big folding doors opened onto it from the house and were so lovely we wanted to create an outdoor space that felt like an outside room.
Getting the design right was the most important thing, and having searched the internet, I found Floral & Hardy, which offers a complete garden design and construction service. When they came to see us, we were very impressed. They had so many ideas we'd never thought of, including a way to make the garden feel bigger and wider by using willow-clad fencing and a series of squares set at an angle to the house. They also suggested built-in seats with hidden storage space underneath so we wouldn't need a shed, and a stone obelisk with water bubbling up through the top, which takes up much less space than a pond.
The work took about eight weeks. There was a huge amount to do, including digging out a concrete slab beneath the existing paving stones and bringing all the new soil in. Although the men did come through the house, they were very tidy, and it helped that they could also get access through the communal gardens at the back. We'd sometimes come home from work and think, "Oh no, what's that? Should it be there? Will it look like that when it's finished?" But once the work ended, there wasn't a single thing we would have changed.
"We now have a garden with a real "Wow" factor. It's given us this great space where we can entertain and create a party atmosphere. Huw recently celebrated his 50th birthday in the garden. We had the doors open, lots of cushions on the seating area, and it was perfect for people to relax in. 'With lights in the beds, on the deck and around the seating, the garden is lovely as it starts to get dark. I never tire of looking out at it through the folding doors. In the winter, we don't have the doors open but with the lights on, the garden creates a beautiful backdrop to the room. 'The house itself had been done up before we moved in, so we spent our whole makeover budget of £25,000 on the garden. We absolutely love it, and we're able to use what had once been a wasted space as a wonderful outdoor room'.
Make your garden work for you: Use your space all year round with this advice from Paul Ellison of Floral & Hardy:
i) If you have a small garden and want to free up space, seating can be designed with underground storage for big pieces of gardening equipment, such as the mower. Just lift up the seat and it's easy to get to them.
ii) Invest in good lighting. Even on a grey winter's afternoon, it will help the garden come alive.
iii) Many families have a trampoline in their garden, but they spoil the look of the space. A smart solution is to sink them into the ground. Once the children have left home, you can fill the space back in or even turn it into a plunge pool or pond.
House & Garden magazine
'Sitting Pretty' - article by Cathy Strongman featured on page 46
Time spent in the garden is one of the best things about summer... and there are plenty of eco products designed specifically for outdoor living. The choice of garden furniture made from recycled or reclaimed materials has exploded in recent years. "You don't need to sacrifice style in order to go recycled" says Helen Ellison, from Floral & Hardy (0845 603 2598). In its 'Sustainability Can be Sexy' show garden at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show last year,[article below] the company [Floral & Hardy] used cushions and a hammock by Ting... made from recycled seat belts. "They looked amazing and attracted loads of attention", says Helen. "They're available in a wide range of colours and would make an eye-catching addtition to a modern scheme"....
"Don't buy recycled just for the sake of it", warns Helen. "Try to take into account the processes involved in the recycling as sometimes the manufacturing can be as harmful to the environment as producing something new. The less processing involved in making the product, the better". Helen recommends the 'Reel Rocker' from the Recycle Warehouse, a rocking chair that is made in Britain from recycled cable reels constructed from slats of wood. "Finally, consider installing a bird box to encourage biodiversity. Check out the designs at Ben's Bird Boxes which are made from recycled estate-agents' boards".
25 Beautiful Homes magazine
FLORAL & HARDY
A portfolio ranging from country cottage designs to modern urban spaces confirms that Helen Ellison and her team are adept at tackling gardens of all shapes and sizes. "I don't have just one style", says Helen. "My purpose is to create a garden that reflects the house and the personalities of the people who live there". The company's policy of 'reduce, reuse, recycle' also ensures that it will make minimal environmental impact during a project.
The Mail on Sunday
The big attraction for Rachel's cameras, of course, will be the show gardens, which this year are regarded as some of the best ever, with incredibly innovative designs, mixed with down-to-earth tradition. With the emphasis firmly based on sustainability, recycling and climate change, none embraces it better than husband-and-wife team Helen and Paul Ellison's garden, Sustainability Can Be Sexy. Here the walls are made from 'hemcrete' - a mixture of hemp, lime and water; the paving is recycled glass bottles, the mulch recycled tyres, the cushions made from discarded airline seat belts and the shade sail from knitted carrier bags. Even the bird boxes are recycled - from old estate agent boards. "At the end of the show, it can all be recycled", says Paul Ellison. "The walls can just be sawn up and turned into chippings because it is all plant matter and the garden has a negative carbon footprint."
Paul and Helen Ellison of Floral & Hardy, bespoke garden design employing 10 permanent staff and 50-60 contractors. Turnover of £2-3m a year.
"It was really a spur-of-the-moment decision to put ourselves forward to design a garden for Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (July 2008)", says Paul Ellison, who has secured sponsorship from RBS to help fund the project.
"From a PR perspective, this is a fantastic opportunity for all parties, in particular the sponsor. It will be an eco-friendly garden intended for a family, with an emphasis on sustainability and practicality. It will incorporate renewable energy and recycled products wherever possible", he explains. Ellison approached a number of big organisations, including a supermarket chain, but to no avail. He then decided to approach the Bank. "I met up with the Bank to discuss the plans for the garden in detail - and the benefits for them. You have to give potential sponsors a sound business case for doing it", he says.
Ellison, for example, pointed out that the market for top-end garden improvements is booming at the moment and, much like home-improvement loans, there might be a demand for loans aimed specifically at this sector.
"It was great they committed the money - it will help us to achieve our goal.
My tip for other businesses: "You need to have a unique selling point for whoever you are approaching for sponsorship. Don't think that because you think it is a good idea, they will too".
By Richard Mayhew-Smith
It's all hands on the decking at Hampton Court Palace as organisers of its annual flower show prepare for the opening on Tuesday (July 2008). Down in the show's own bit of Middle Earth, designer Helen Ellison was mixing up a strange environmentally-friendly slurry which could save millions of pounds in new housing. "What happens is that there is so much throw-away plant material that if you mix it with lime and pour it into formers it'll make the most wonderful walls", she said. She has used chopped hemp to create 80 metres of wall for her garden, but said many other dried plants like wheat straw would be equally suitable. Her garden is themed on the Hobbit stories, with a special hidey-hole made out of barrel staves sunk into a magical hillside.
Fill out our enquiry form, or call us on 0845 603 2598 and speak to one of our friendly expert staff to start the process of designing your dream garden!