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Recycled garden

By garden designer Andrew Fisher Tomlin. Someone approached me the other day and said they were fed up with seeing all these crisp new concrete walls, bright colours and fancy flooring in relatively ordinary gardens. It got me thinking about how some people are fast getting into a cycle of replacing gardens every few years, almost as often as we replace kitchens and re-decorate our homes.

Its obviously not always the best approach to take when a tree can take decades to reach its full glory and often, in a rush to get the latest colour or variety, we miss the simple things and never relax in our garden. However, with all these gardens being redesigned and rebuilt it does provide a new opportunity for skip hunters - you'd be amazed what you can find in the lowliest of skips in London!

I've always been keen on using recycled stone in my designs. There is a natural wear and tear in 150 year-old York stone slabs that have been sat on a factory floor all that time. It gives a patina you'll never find in new stone. Combine this with other reclaimed materials such as paddlestones and old London stock bricks and you'd think it had been there forever. I've often been asked to remove old York Stone but you can be sure it never finds its way to the waste dump but will grace another garden for a more discerning owner!

But there's more to recycling than just old York stone. These days you can go to any number of reclamation yards and find great materials for your garden. In particular you can buy old rope top edging for the same price as new. There are some magnificent statues and urns to be had but also some simple old stone troughs that will look good in most town gardens.

And then there are the skips. I cannot say that I am an avid hunter but I do now have a quick look when I see a landscapers skip. Over the past few years I've found a pair of 1930s metal garden chairs and some great pieces of stone including the decorative end of a barn gable.
I always thought it a myth but keep your eyes peeled and as they take in the concrete the landscapers maybe bringing out some treasure that will look good in your garden!

Occasionally I've taken re-cycling to extremes. I hate taking down trees and have often been able to transplant some pretty large specimens although its not an easy or cheap task. We are now getting to the right time of year to transplant though. Wait for leaves to drop next month and you can lift and re-plants some pretty large specimens relatively easily and no leaves means surprisingly less weight! On a smaller scale, I've just lifted some old mossy turf from one garden to a newly designed wild garden. Its' providing instant wildflowers and the daisy covered lawn my clients wanted that would take years of neglect to achieve!

Of course the great thing about recycling is that much of it is free and even when its not remember it's very environmentally friendly. Reclaimed materials can give your garden a unique edge you won't find anywhere else. For example, I use old plastic bottles upended with the bottoms cut out to water trees and shrubs directly at the roots. When many of us have water meters it's a good way of reducing our reliance of too much water in the garden. You can even use crushed sea-shells and recycled bark as mulch. The possibilities are endless.

And once you've installed all your found and recycled objects - what then? Well, why not go in for some traditional garden recycling and start making your own compost, it's a sure way of saving pounds and helping the environment. You'll get the bug and an eye for other opportunities to save some money and change your garden for the better.

Great Reclamation yards
For up to date information its best to look at websites as they contain recently arrived stock and can save you a wasted visit. We use some of these to find unique pieces.

Salvo.co.uk The umbrella site for UK salvage companies.
Drummonds.co.uk Guildford
Architectural-heritage.co.uk Cheltenham
Jardinique.co.uk Hampshire
Lassco.co.uk City, London
Westland.co.uk London
Recycled Gardens

By Andrew Fisher Tomlin

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