wednesday walls – a hexagon based wall trellis…

oooh goodness. We have a bit of a thing for the hexagon here at the Ecospot. The love of hex is something that we have written about a few times, with hexagonal wall tiles, floor tiles, seating and all sorts featuring at various times both here and on our studio wish list. But now, we have found a rather fabulous use of the hexagon – in this wonderful hexagonal wall trellis.

combination trellis by arik levy

Created by designer Arik Levy, the ‘combination wall trellis’ is available in a variety of sizes which can be combined to create a scientific looking, modern support structure that can grow across the wall.

What we particularly love about this product (apart from the hexagons, of course) is the fact that the trellis will look as beautiful and effective without anything on at all, as it would with a smattering of foliage. Indeed, it is such a striking product that you could argue that it should not be covered in it’s entirety, or at least be covered with a deciduous climber so that the frame is exposed, and enjoyed in winter when generally the garden is a little quieter.

A lovely contemporary twist to the trellis – an often overlooked piece of kit.

(image via gardenbeet)

weekend colour inspiration – purples, greens and seeds…

As it is now officially the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, we are looking to the garden today for a bit of our weekend colour inspiration with a smattering of purples and greens.

purple seeds

Now, this little selection is part of the basis for the new planting we are having at the front of the new studio (yes, it is coming soon) – a nice bunch of deepest purples, greys, greens and whites, with the odd dark burgundy red thrown in for good measure.

And even though we are fans of drifted planting, edible planting and planting that is good for the local wildlife, we do not really go in for the all colours blazing style of planting. We like to be a little bit organised, choosing tones that will work well together within a limited palette.

This is one of our favourites. Partnered with the bright green stems of dogwood and the pale silvers of lavender, these purple shades will sit nicely together.

So when you take a trip to the garden centre for your seeds, take a little time to really look at how the shades will sit against one another. Because creating a beautiful garden or landscape is rather like painting a balanced picture…

(photo by claire potter)

Wednesday walls – green walls from plastic bottles…

Today on Wednesday walls we are looking at a little bit of guerrilla gardening, with this fantastic pop up wall garden, which was installed at a home by Brazilian design studio Rosenbaum to help the underprivileged family gain direct access to food and medicinal herbs.

Brazilian design studio Rosenbaum created this hanging garden of recycled plastic bottles to help an underprivileged family with limited space in Sao Paulo live more sustainably. The old bottles were strung together and planted with flowers, spices and medicinal herbs.

We love this idea – we have written before about gutter gardening, which takes a similar form as this, but what we particularly love is the very low tech nature of this design and installation. Using locally sourced, waste 2ltr drinks bottles, the new installation is very simply constructed using suspended steel cables attached to the wall, which means that if any get broken, it is easy – and cheap to replace them.

As far as green walling goes, this is about as low tech as it gets, but the vital part is that the installation is completely suitable for the location, which is key to a great design intervention. Site, and client specific.

A wonderful, simple project that will create a real difference to the family, promote recycling and provide fresh food. And the best thing? It can be easily replicated…

(image via Innocent Facebook)

Monday musings – the new start of grow your own…

It appears as though we have been rather blessed with an early and sudden start to a hot spring. It has literally snuck up on us all, but wandering into the garden last week, we discovered that everything has woken up and is growing at the rate of knots. We also visited two different garden centres over the weekend – one to look at trees for a client and one to pick up a few seeds. Both were rammed.

grow your own

But we also spotted something very interesting. On both trips, in both the larger nursery and the standard DIY shed garden centre, there was a much bigger area given over to edible growing than ever before. Grow your own has taken over. 

Edible hedging, strips of vegetable seedlings, canes of berries, fruit trees of all sizes and a huge variety of seeds were there – and were very, very popular indeed. At one point we stood and watched as the traditional bedding plant area was pretty much bare of shoppers, but the fruit tree area could barely hold anyone else.

And we were part of the throng, purchasing violas (edible), bean seeds and a few extra varieties of mint. We also selected the trees we will be using in one of our schemes for our clients – a mix of apples, pears and a mulberry. We might even sneak in an almond.

So, for today, we really are having a bit of a musing. The mistrust of where our food comes from, plus the general increased interest in growing your own has filtered down to the DIY sheds who are fulfilling our desires for simple, semi self sufficiency with a bigger than ever range of grow your own products.

Which in our eyes, can only be a good thing. 

(image by claire potter)

the edible city – window shades with integrated growing

Even though lots of us like to eat local, seasonal and fresh, not a lot of us have either the time or the space to grow our own food. Inner city allotments are harder to find (and take up lots of time) and many of us do not have the option of outdoor space at all – especially if we live in apartments or flats. But, fortunately, there are lots of designers who are thinking about how we can tackle this issue with innovative products – and we were delighted when we discovered the Herbow concept by Hsu Hao-Po, Chang Yu-Hui & Chang Chung-Wei – a window shade with integrated growing.

Acting as both as a sun shade and adjustable rain screen, the Herbow is a series of window shades with integrated growing for a few plants to take advantage of the space and resources at hand.

Even though this product is only a concept, there is a definite need for this kind of joined up thinking – solving a few problems with a single product and allowing us to be closer to the production of our food.

(images via Yanko Design)

Monday musings – pop up architecture, pop up gardens

By its very nature, architecture tends to have a particular longevity to the place in which it is situated – and you would hope, have a real connection to that place also. Transitory architecture examples are fewer and farther afield, with pop up architecture confined to expo pavilions at the topmost end and perhaps even market stalls at the everyday end, but this appears to be changing.

Each year we hear of how another pop up has, er, popped up in our cities – with a larger amount taking the form of a type of architecture.

But how can landscape and architecture be combined in this pop up arena? How can designers create tiny little sanctuaries within our urban environments which can affect change to inhabitants of a location?

pop up architecture

Of late, we have seen an interesting range of interventions – from the softwalk additions to existing scaffolding to installations that are confined to skips, but it was these bubble gardens by designer Amaury Gallon that were installed temporarily in Paris that offered the closest pop up way to a completely new environment.

A true bubble within the city – in all ways.

The pop up structures featured a range of planted material which were located around the edges of the igloos and offered Parisians a complete escape from the hustle of the city by creating an enclosing environment for the short time they were up.

There is of course an argument for these types of structures to be more permanent features within our cities, but at that point the beauty and eclecticism of the pop up is lost, as they net into the solid and planned fabric of our built environments. Surely the unexpected is an inherent part of their wonderful appeal?

But there is a lot that the more permanent cousins of the pop up architectural model can learn – context, interest, variety and of course – creating a bit of fun for us all.

(image via inhabitat)

2014 trends – internal planting gets a boost

We have been watching this one for a while – and participating in it too… the rise of internal planting. Gone are the days of the office with the overgrown cheese plant festering in the corner. Internal planting now entails green walls, lushly planted swathes of greenery in massed oversized planters – even internal planting that hangs from the ceiling.

Threshold 2013. Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

And we predict that the sort of installations that we have been seeing in the offices, studios and retail spaces of late will migrate across to domestic settings on a smaller scale.

As we spoke about with the steampunk trend earlier this week, this is part down to the fact that we are seeing the inclusion of internal planting increasingly in the commercial spaces we are inhabiting, but it is also because manufacturers are beginning to create products suitable for a wider range of applications.

One of our favourite – and one that we used in two projects in 2013 was the wonderful Sky Planter by Boskke (as seen above in our Edible Office installation for Love Architecture Week 2013). An upside down planter with integrated water reservoir, the recycled plastic pot hangs from a braided steel cable and provides a very interesting way to display your plants. Internal planting is not limited to the ‘house plant’ displays of old and there are actually lots of plants, including orchids and even herbs that grow very well in this orientation.

But a post on the increase of the internal planting trend would not be complete without a few words on the iconic green wall.

Whilst the large scale, self watering systems that you see in commercial settings are very, very highly engineered beasts, there are a few options which are far down the complexity scale and give a generally similar aesthetic.

One such option is the Woolly Pocket system, which, in a similar way to the Boskke Sky Planter, integrates a water reservoir to not only cut down on the chore of watering, but provides a clean and neat way to support your plants. Choose plants that cascade naturally (such as spider plants, ivy or drooping ferns) and you can create an opulent feature for relatively little cash. Or herbs in a kitchen? Free up space on the windowcill and do a spot of internal planting on your walls instead.

So, we think that 2014 will be the year that we all get a little greener. In a different way.

(images by Jim Stephenson and Woolly Planters)

2013 recap – November – foraging in the city…

Nearly at the end of our 2013 recap now, so we are posting over the weekend as a special, bunper edition of the Ecospot (and so we can start afresh with goodies next week). Lots of you are probably aware that as well as spacial design and products we are involved in landscape design – with a bit of an obsession with city foraging…

A  few weeks go, I did a talk at Brighton Pecha Kucha 2013 – all about the personal mapping that can grow around the act of foraging, and especially urban foraging. We all have our personal maps of our bus routes, places we love to shop, drink coffee etc, but these tend to stay static throughout the year. If you start to see the opportunity around you within your city – linking into the free, seasonal food that is around you, then that personal map can be enriched.

And now you can see the video of the slides and my talk here…the Edible City

After the talk (which I thoroughly enjoyed) I was approached by two lovely German journalists and bloggers, Dirk and Susanne, who were interested in the whole urban foraging experience.

Could I take them foraging in our beautiful city of Brighton and Hove? Sure I could.

Brighton_Claire_Busch_pushreset

And they did a little video about our trip too, which you can see here… (oh, and we were foraging, not foresting – a bit got lost in translation I think!)

Overall, a lovely little pairing of urban foraging activities. And stay tuned for our very special speedy spiced wild apple cider recipe later this week…

(photo by Dirk and Susanne of push:reset)

December design wish list day 4 – choosing the right Christmas tree

If you have not got your tree already, we are sure it is on the list of ‘things to do’ this weekend. But before you rush out to the nearest place to choose your Christmas tree, we would urge you to take a look at the little guide we wrote for EggMag…

tree 2

So, no excuses people. 

(image by claire potter)

SPOTTED – seedbombs – creating a flowering legacy – TEDx Brighton

As well as the fabulous talks at last weeks TEDx Brighton, there were also a whole raft of exhibitions and workshops within the very aptly named Ideas Lab, which was free for anyone to attend. The idea of the, er, Ideas Lab was to include a range of people who would investigate the theme of legacy and heritage on an interactive basis.

seedbomb

One of the exhibitors in the Ideas Lab was the brilliant Seedbomb Factory, run by guerilla gardener and author Josie Jeffery.

Using just earth, clay and seeds, visitors were encouraged to literally get their hands dirty – combining the lot into perfectly packaged seedbombs which will be launched into a secret site in Brighton – encouraging the development of a new, unplanned garden and supporting local wildlife.

seedbomb

And really, the seedbomb is a great way to do this – and a great way for lots of ages to get involved and the legacy of utilising otherwise abandoned or underused spaces within the city.

seedbomb

Plus, it feels about as good as you can get being naughty, because even though *strictly* chucking a seedbomb onto a waste site is not allowed, who, really will disapprove of the resulting loveliness?

Does this not spread the legacy of respect for nature and extended biodiversity to our younger generation?

Of course it does. And we would encourage everyone to get out there and plant up just about anything that needs planting up. Just don’t get caught. And don’t say we told you so.

(images via seed freedom)