SPOTTED – the new IKEA indoor gardening kit…

We always find it interesting to see which of our posts here on the ecospot are the most popular. Some change with the month, but some of our all time most popular posts concern green walls, indoor gardening and growing your own food. This internal greening is a trend that we have seen grow (sorry) over the last few years, with our clients requesting internal planting as an integral part of the design – both for the appearance and air cleaning qualities. We have also been able to encourage some internal growing of crops too, from herbs to soft fruits. And it does not have to be complicated either, so it was with great interest we spotted the latest launch from a global giant set for May – the IKEA indoor gardening kit.

Developed in collaboration with agricultural scientists in Sweden, the KRYDDA/VÄXER series includes everything you need to get sprouting and keep your garden growing – using mainly water – the hydroponic system that actually produces many of our crops globally.

IKEA indoor gardening

From seedling to fully grown plants – hydroponics are well within the grasp of any household, making super localised food production a reality. And if you choose wisely, you could even grow varieties that you simply cannot buy easily as they are not suitable for commercial production.

IKEA indoor gardening

IKEA have even produced a video to show just how easy it is…

This does ring a bell with us too, as a while back we bought the fantastic project book, ELIOOO by Antonio Scarponi which also does just this – shows you how to create your own hydroponic set-ups with IKEA products, with IKEA style instructions. (you can buy the book here too) It is very interesting to see IKEA themselves moving into this area of indoor growing…

IKEA indoor gardening

Watch this space – we will get hold of one of the new IKEA indoor gardening kits and see how we get on.

(images and story via IKEA)

2015 recap – September – Zero Waste Week and Silo Brighton…

We are in the last week of our 2015 recap now, and for today we are casting our minds back to September, where we were mostly talking about zero waste…

(first published 10 Sept 2015)

Continuing our look at zero waste for zero waste week, today we are featuring one of our favourite places in Brighton. Silo, which opened in the North Laine area of the city earlier this year is heralded as a ‘pre-industrial food system’ which, as well as producing beautiful and delicious food, also produces zero waste.

root_veg

Now, for a restaurant to declare that its is ‘zero waste’ is a huge achievement, but as founder of Silo, Doug McMaster points out – if you design and create ‘backwards’ – ie with the bin in mind, you can begin to eliminate waste before it has been produced, rather than dealing with it at the end. This is effective and clever.

Silo demonstrate that by working with producers directly, you can choose items that have been produced locally, in reusable / returnable vessels that continue to be in the loop once the contents have been used at the restaurant.

silo brighton 2

But reducing the packaging that you use is one thing. The largest, and most pressing waste produced from a restaurant is the food waste itself. Scraps, peelings, left overs – where does all this go? At Silo, they have Big Bertha – a composting machine that sits just inside the entrance to the side of the restaurant and converts everything into compost and liquid feed in an astonishingly short amount of time.

The 50-60kg of compost it produces overnight is distributed back to the growers that they get their raw goods from – literally closing the loop. As you enter the restaurant, one shelf is filled with boxes from the Espresso Mushroom Company, happily sprouting their brown and pink oyster mushrooms from the mix of recycled compost and locally sourced coffee grounds in the cool shade.

silo brighton 3

But it is not just the food that is zero waste at Silo – the pastries that greet you are served on multicoloured discs of plastic – melted plastic bags that have found a new use and the interior itself is a delight of the industrial aesthetic with reclaimed wood seating and reclaimed flooring used as tables.

There is a distinct honesty to everything at Silo. The kitchen is open at one end, the flour is milled in another corner of the open plan space (although not when service is on as it is pretty noisy) and the jugs of water are filled with the visible offcuts of herbs from the kitchen. You drink the water from jam jars and lovely ceramic mugs, obviously.

silo brighton 1

Many people have baulked at the idea of a zero waste restaurant, confining it to the very ‘green orientated creatives’ that live in Brighton, but whilst Silo wears a lot of it’s ethics on it’s sleeve (and rightly so), it also does it rather quietly. There is no massive signage declaring how it is holier than thou. Ask one of the staff and they will enthusiastically explain the systems – even Big Bertha – but there is no ramming of information down your throats, even though this is the system that many more restaurants could be (and should be) employing.

silo_raspberries

Go to Silo for the delicious food – and realise how zero waste in the food industry is possible.

(images by claire potter design and via silo)

no public landscaping? just wheel one out…

There is so much that we missed when we were in Milan recently for the Salone del Mobile – and we are still discovering loads of exciting things that just skipped past without being seen… One such project is the rolling garden by the A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, which saw moveable gardens literally roll into Milan to create pop up areas of public landscaping.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, urban garden, Expo Gate Milano, Salone del Mobile, Why not in the garden?, urban garden, modular garden

Constructed from bases featuring old bike wheels, the colourful frameworks of ‘why not in the garden’ featured bench style seating and a variety of plants which could be simply and easily reconfigured into a range of configurations according to the need of the space.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, urban garden, Expo Gate Milano, Salone del Mobile, Why not in the garden?, urban garden, modular garden

Plus, majority of the plants were edible, which is one of our personal obsessions – bringing the edible back into the centre of public landscaping rather than the usual municipal planting suspects.

Click to enlarge image A4A_whynotinthegarden_07.jpg

The real success of this little pop up though is the incredible flexibility it brought to the centre of Milan, with people congregating in different ways according to the pattern the rolling gardens were laid out in.

We are gutted that we missed this one!

(images via Inhabitat)

Easter gift idea – a membership to the Heritage Seed Library…

Before anyone says anything – we are huge fans of chocolate, especially the organic loveliness from Montezumas in Brighton, but we had a thought about what else we would love to give people as a gift this Easter break. With the front of the studio literally springing up before our eyes, the soil warming nicely and the seed packages mounting up, we will be giving the gift of heritage growing – with memberships to the Heritage Seed Library from Garden Organic.

We are very proud to be members, with our annual subs of £18 going towards conserving vegetable types which are not commercially available any more. Some are UK varieties, some from further afield, but the HSL ensures that these varieties are not being lost forever… Plus, as part of our membership – as well as the warm fuzzy feeling of doing something good, we also get to pick six different varieties from the library each December to grow ourselves.

From purple carrots to purple beans and even long lost fruits such as the triffid like Achocha, we have had the joy (and sometimes despair) of growing over the past ten years or so. Plus, there is nothing quite like putting a variety into the summer village show that has not been seen for a few years, if at all.

So, if you have someone that is green fingered and not a huge fan of chocolate, perhaps a membership to the Heritage Seed Library could be in order?

(images via the HSL)

SPOTTED – picking our Christmas tree at Wilderness Wood…

We are suckers for a bit of tradition. Especially when it is a nice tradition – and really, we are heading full whack into one of the busiest times of year as far as tradition goes. We apologise in advance for using the C word in November, but hey. Christmas. Someone told me yesterday that there are only six weekends until Christmas. Six. Somehow that put the panic in a little bit, but we are safe in the knowledge that we have already bagged our tree. We went and reserved it at Wilderness Wood…wilderness wood 1

Some of you may know about our traditional trip up to the working wood, Wilderness Wood in Sussex – where every November (second weekend) we head up to get a tag, pay our £10 deposit and choose our tree in the Christmas tree plantation.

This year, was no different. We headed up on a sunny Sunday, boots at the ready, filled with excitement that was tinged with a little bit of apprehension. This was to be the first year that the wood was under new ownership after the Yarrow’s, who had founded the working wood in the 1970’s decided to retire. Would it be the same? Would the pots of tea be as huge, the cake so delicious and the atmosphere so friendly and welcoming?wilderness wood 2

Well, yes. We needn’t have worried. The barn was as packed as usual, the tea and the cake were both huge and delicious and the Christmas tree plantation was as we had expected.wilderness wood 3

With number 232 on our tag, there were lots of families and members who had reserved their trees before us, but there was still loads of selection available. Unfortunately, not the Douglas Fir that we have grown to love for its soft, fragrant, limey green needles, but still lots in the fir and spruce categories. Like the children in the plantation, we scooted up and down the hill, trying to find ‘the one’. There were a few contenders, but we eventually settled on one – a lovely Nordmann Fir – an excellent needle keeper, even when cut. Wilderness Wood has good Blue Spruces this year too, so if you are looking for one of these, ethically produced, then it is a good possibility.wilderness wood 4

Now, many of you will question whether driving to choose, then harvest a tree is perhaps the most ‘eco’ way to get a Christmas tree – and even if a real tree is perhaps the best choice. But we believe that this is not only about the tree, but the tradition of picking one – safe in the knowledge that it has been cared for in the right way. It is as ethical as possible. Plus, as we will compost the tree after, the tree becomes a biological nutrient for our own studio garden.

So. Full of tea, cake and with our tree reserved, we headed home. And we will go back in about a month and cut him down, bring him to the studio for Christmas. Ironically, we have named him Doug.

(go to the Wilderness Wood website for full details of their pick your own Christmas trees. all photos by claire potter)

first eco open houses tour weekend a success…

We have been a little bit quiet over here on the ecospot over the last week or so. There are many reasons for this – for one, we were having a bit of a major design overhaul (and we hope you like the new look!) and as well as having a digital redesign we were working in the physical too – trying to complete our new studio in time for the first Brighton and Hove Eco Open Houses tour weekend on 18th / 19th October. Long days, long nights and lots of goings on. But, we are nearly there on both respects, and it was with delight that we opened our doors to the public for the very first time on Sunday morning…

studio loo front

We are not completely there, but very nearly and there was loads of stuff that we could say about the project to explain to people where we had started from, where we were and where we will be when we open again on Saturday 25th.

studio spider chandelier small

It was fantastic. We had put notes on a lot of the key areas of the rebuild and conversion from old public toilet to design studio and it was not long before our pen had nearly run out. From our Celotex insulation to locally sourced plants, recycled paint from REBORN paints to upcycled cabinets from local charity Emmaus, we spoke about a different side to the eco buildings in the city.

studio plants small

We do not have our solar panels on our roof yet, but our electricity is supplied by Ecotricity and we have used A+ appliances throughout and energy saving bulbs. Plants also feature heavily in the studio to not only create a nice environment but to act as air cleaners – removing the toxins which will be given out by our printer, computers and even as we breathe.

labels on the wall

And despite not being completely finished, we were delighted at the comments that people gave us when they visited. Some people had travelled specifically to see our studio, others were doing as many of the Eco Open Houses as possible and others were just walking along the road and happened upon us. All in all, we had just over 60 visitors, which we were most chuffed about.

reborn paints small

But, as soon as the last visitors had gone, the building materials were back in and we were back at the works, with the flooring, front door and tiling set to be finished off this week. I have the job of putting in the hanging planters that I was speaking to people about as well…

neon green flex. grey and copper

So – if you are about, pop by and say hello this weekend – we are at 201 Portland Road in Hove and will be open on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th between 10-1 and 2-5. And we can highly recommend the cafe along the road, Pelican on Portland for all things tasty, lovely and delicious.

(all photos by claire potter)

 

SPOTTED – the first winter violas – chocolate cake with edible flowers…

We had a day off yesterday for the Bank Holiday, when, of course, it rained, but at the weekend we had our village fair in the dappled sunshine which was excellent. It is lovely to meet up with neighbours and friends and have a good old chat on the village green with a slice of something decadent from the cake stand. I did, however, miss out on grabbing a slice of the cake I made – a chocolate cake with edible flowers – with the first of the new winter flowering violas and pansies.

chocolate cake with edible flowers

We love using edible flowers in our recipes – in salads in summer, and in ice cubes, but the best way is to top a dark and lush chocolate cake with edible flowers.

Plus, the dark chocolate ganache of the cake sets the colours of the flowers off beautifully. We chose violas and pansies, which have a beautiful range of colours, shapes and sizes and look very sweet on the cake. The purple also goes very well with the chocolate (and the scattering of purple edible glitter too).

We used both violas and pansies on the cake, including the smooth variety and the new ‘ruffled’ pansies, which gave a bit more interest. And if you pick the flowers, they will produce more, so do not hold back for edible decorations for your cakes.

Fancy something else for your own chocolate cake with edible flowers? Why not try (the very last) rose petals, both wild rose / japanese rose or your own from your garden, or perhaps a bright and brash fuchsia ballerina flower – or the fruit pods?

And don’t forget lavender, which is simply stunning on (and in) any cake…

(photo by claire potter)

SPOTTED – structures in Arundel Castle Gardens…

Last week we had a very rare day off to visit Arundel Castle for the medieval tournament (which was fantastic) but as well as watching the most magnificent jousting and sword fighting, we also had a very lovely tour of the gardens. We have already spoken about the inspired allium and lavender planting combination that we spotted in the cutting garden, but today we are looking at a few of the structure in the Arundel Castle Gardens

First up is this wonderful green oak arch / walkway that features in the Collector Earl’s Garden, which is beautifully simple, yet also a very accomplished piece of timber structuring.

arundel castle gardens 1

Framing views, the archway and dome provide both focal points and a touch of shade in the otherwise exposed Italianate styled garden. This is a key top tip for spaces of any size – if the eye sees everything at once then a space can feel uninteresting or even a great deal smaller than it actually is. By framing views and breaking up the expanse you create increased interest in any space, whilst also having the opportunity to direct a focus in any direction you choose, such as towards a sculpture or even the view beyond.

arundel castle gardens 4

The timber structures in the space continued with a quite incredible wooden folly, decorated with antlers.

arundel castle gardens 6

And also the fantastic Oberon’s Palace, which featured fountains and sculptures and was surrounded with large terracotta pots filled with cool coloured Agapanthus.

arundel castle gardens 5

But the structures continued into the cutting and edible gardens too, with the imposing green oak arched walkway being reflected in an apple archway, which not only provided a productive architectural element to the second part of the gardens but visually tied these very different spaces together.

arundel castle gardens 2

Covered with (we think) Ashmead’s Kernel, the apple archway also allowed framed views of the historical buildings of Arundel…

arundel castle gardens 3

The Arundel Castle Gardens are all accessible within the entry level ticket and, in our opinion, are one of the huge highlights. There is a stunning amount of variety, and at this time of the year, they are also abundant with flowers and fruits. Plus, the Head Gardener and team are out and about – and were very pleased to impart their knowledge of the space and the gardens to the visitors. We were even given a small bunch of sweet peas.

A wonderful gem of an attraction in Sussex – the Arundel Castle Gardens are beautiful, slightly bonkers and varied. Which in our book is quite a winning combination.

(photos by claire potter)

 

SPOTTED – the Hookie Planter…

We do love a bit of internal planting here on the Ecospot, especially when it is hanging planting. Plants really can make the space come alive, plus it can help to soften an otherwise hard interior design scheme, especially if you are going down the industrial styled route, as we often are. Add in the air cleansing qualities of plants and you are onto a winner. So when we saw these new Hookie planters, we were, er, hooked. hookie

Founded by Finnish industrial designer Niko Laukkarinen, the Hookie was borm out of the idea of supporting multiple plants from one single fixing point. It is also rather sculptural, which is an element that we particularly like.

And you can also support the project itself, as it is currently looking for funding here.

Play Hookie With These Hanging Planters in main home furnishings  Category

(images via Hookie funded by me page)

join us on our Chelsea Fringe edible city foraging walk this saturday…

Hello everyone. Apologies for the few posts that have disappeared over the past few days, we have been experiencing a bit of a tech melt down… but, we are still here (actually, we are in Berlin at present with Fixperts, but more of that next week) and we will also be getting ready for our Chelsea Fringe event this coming Saturday!

Chelsea Fringe 2014 Flyer merged

Last year, we ran a very popular guided foraging walk in Brighton, so we have decided to keep to the theme and are running another three – this time in the centre of Brighton, starting in the landscape behind Brighthelm on North Road. This will be a bit of an intro to what you can find in the city which can be easily foraged.

We will be starting at 11, with each walk taking about an hour, including a free foraged cordial drink at the end and a free copy of our very special and very new map of Brighton which you can customise yourself with the icon stickers…

Spaces on the walk are FREE but VERY limited, so please get in touch to reserve a space on one of the following time slots:

11.00 am walk / 1.00 walk / 3.00 walk – email us on hello@clairepotterdesign.com to reserve a space, or use the booking form on the right of this page…

In between times, we will be at our little stand in Brighthelm selling copies of our Edible City pack (map and stickers), plus copies of our limited edition A-Z of British Apples prints, so please do pop by and say hello! If there are any spaces left on the day you will be welcome to join one of the walks but we cannot guarantee that there will be any left!

Oh – if you have previously got in touch about reserving a space on the walks, please get in touch again – we have lost a lot of emails in our recent tech fail…

We look forward to seeing you!

Monday musings – this years Chelsea Fringe event announced…

Well, well, well. Where exactly has this year gone? We honestly cannot believe that it is a year since we did our Edible City foraging walk for the Chelsea Fringe festival last year. So – what are we planning on doing this year Another Edible City foraging walk, but this year, we are planning a few little extras, which we will be revealing over the next week or so…

Chelsea Fringe 2014 Flyer merged

Yep. A foraging walk, a free map and even a foraged drink at the end…

Extra details coming very soon…

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)