Garden.(A) The pink or dusty plum walling is echoed in the use of colour further around the garden and the patio around the pool. Those in the design world often talk about a dialogue of form or the syntax of design.

Simply put, this way of talking appears at first to exclude those ordinary mortals who have to live with the things we design. However, what phrases like this are saying is that the elements that make up the finished article are in themselves important, and each element; albeit a material, ornament, or object, such as a patio or pergola, fits that design perfectly and that design as whole follows a connected pattern, which people subconsciously accept as logical. Like a sentence within a conversation and the conversation as a whole. It is not necessary to describe patios as verbs and paths as nouns, but it is true to say that if a design does not flow smoothly it has the same effect as speaking Spanish badly; people smile back at you, but they really did not understand what you said.

I love Spain and it provides some of the most fantastic materials to build your garden. From the various quarries providing white, cream, yellow and red stone to the imports of paving stone from its provinces and close neighbours. Some of the most beautiful from Morocco; and fantastic rock from Teruel and the mountains behind Barcelona. Some of these are from the outrageous development that we are all benefiting from and some quarried in a time-honoured tradition. However, how to use them? Well continuity is as important as the great list of other important things I give out. It does not restrict their number or uses; but you need to avoid your garden looking like Harlequins best eveningwear and often restraint will give the best results.
Using large areas of cheaper materials and highlighting this with a small amount of very beautiful ceramics will prove your taste and not reflect the size of your pocket. These contrasting elements can highlight or pinpoint areas, views, or uses and improve the overall effect of the original surface.
Materials can and will effect the design process. Indeed, the choice of material IS the design process. The style you choose effects the materials chosen and the result. The style and function of the garden will direct you to choose certain materials. A relaxation space needs a different feel to a party zone and needs different materials to produce the desired effect. A very formal, traditional garden built with traditional materials says a certain something about the owner. The modern or post modernist garden needs a different pallet altogether unless you are very skilled in using traditional materials in a modernistic way; very hard to achieve successfully and then perhaps you should be writing this and not me.
Now many a TV design programme I am sure you have seen, mentions the indoor/ outdoor effect. This is fashion for continuing floor levels and materials from one room or terrace in to the space outside. It is for the sake of continuity and really is the best idea since sliced bread. It is so important to have a connection. I remember when it was radical, but now we can all have it. In addition, very easily in Spain due to the availability of durable, cheap stone based materials and some of the most stunning ceramics I have seen. Added to this is the huge advantage of why most of us ended up in Spain, not just the complicated extradition treaties, but also the weather. Slate paving in the UK will weather beautifully but will moss over quite quickly and the designer is sued for negligence. Transferring slate flooring from kitchen to kitchen garden in Spain is simplicity itself.
How you approach this depends on what effect you are after. I would not suggest using kitchen tiles outside. Madness to even think it –well, maybe- but I would suggest using outside tiles inside or even timber if you are going to be there a lot.
I am also compelled to discuss the idea of the outdoor room or rooms. This is again a simple thing and just encourages you to think about the form and function of individual parts to your garden. It is amongst the list of buzzwords that we use but is not designed to confuse. Thinking of the outside as part of the house as a whole and you are almost there. None of this type of phrase is prescriptive; they do not mean you must have individual places in a garden similar to the lounge, kitchen, or spare bedroom, but they allow you to choose a multi purpose space or one that is singular in function. Equally, you do not have to have a series of chambers, although you can if you wish. It is about thinking just a little further than before.
Here are a few suggested materials for using in your garden. Some are obvious, some less so but really; anything can be used as long as it can stand up to the job dependant on amount of people using the area or their age.
Stone in rough and smooth form
Rocks, pebbles, flat stones or paddle stones
Granite or stone sets and paving
Bricks Blocks Marble
Ceramics Unglazed tiles Glass tiles
Timber, hardwood, softwood and bamboo; and that awful Brezo stuff sleepers
Glass; plate and bricks
Slate; wonderful colours; green, blue, grey, and multi.
Steel, ordinary mild steel and stainless
Fabric and canvas
Plastics and recycled rubber in colours
Cements and concretes in colours
In addition, of course, gravel; white, yellow, pink, red, volcanic, large and small!


There is more, much more, but I cannot give everything away

Where a surface or wall stops, it must do something, and where it meets another material, it must do something else. What do I mean? The joining of two surfaces is the critical part. Where stone connects to wood or brick; Bancal to terrace; each interpretation is saying a different thing; the statement changes. You may have formal and informal parts. That junction is critical because that is where the design succeeds or fails. As I mentioned last time there are some tools or tricks to use, to smooth this transition form one area to another. Repeating a motif from one zone to the next; the use of a colour or stone detail to repeat a pattern; or connecting one space to the next by the use of planting; in colour, leaf form or flower type.
Now to look further a field for inspiration. There are elements of public work, which, if you like them, can be brought into your landscape. I am thinking particularly of a wall in Alcalali, built out of rusting steel. Not to everyone’s taste. However, if you are fortunate enough to see it. - and any trip down the Jalon valley is worth it , you may not appreciate it at first glance as you drive past, wondering how to go left. The reason for mentioning it is that some things change with time. That particular piece is slowly rusting. Is that a good thing? Well, I like it; but the point being that change may be harnessed and used to create certain effects. Steel rusts; stainless steel doesn’t; copper decays to a Verdi gris surface; stone from the La Nucia quarries mellow to golden yellows. Designing this change in to your garden and accepting it as it happens is the same process as realizing things grow and spaces change.
Included here are some photos in an attempt to explain some of the connectivity you/we are trying to achieve. In the first, the slate is the connecting force down the side of the garden. The dark, almost black foliage mirrors this and is repeated with other planting around the garden.(A) The pink or dusty plum walling is echoed in the use of colour further around the garden and the patio around the pool. The slate is picked up in the walling of another, modern water feature. In garden (B) There is also some framing using slices of raw brick, this is repeated as the design element in the pool patio as well as in the edging to that patio to make a definite stop to the paving. Garden (C) The grouting for the tiles is slate grey
The main water feature and fountain is in white brushed cement with a timber detail. This timber emulates the decking. Connected by colour to the main paving of the driveway it is on a slightly raised level to make it a distinctly separate area. In Garden (D) The decking winds its way through to a summerhouse, also of timber and this style of building will be created at the other side of the pool as well, although it will be lower and wider, the elements of its design will be repeated. The stones used in the glass water feature repeats again in small areas in other parts of the garden. Finally, the stone raised bed in front of the boundary wall, which was an existing feature, was extended, and manipulated in order to grow a shower block in glass.  Garden (E) This particular one has solar heated water and turns on automatically as you walk in. I was very pleased with that!
Well, that is about it for this week’s lecture, sorry, article. Try to look at Parc Guel on Google if you can and Parc Paul Citroen in Paris. Questions, comments and physically possible suggestions to my email, or talk directly to my colleague Steve on 679 464 857.
Thanks for your
indulgence, Jon

  garden (B) There is also some framing using slices of raw brick, this is repeated as the design element in the pool patio as well as in the edging to that patio to make a definite stop to the paving.

  Garden (C) The grouting for the tiles is slate grey


Garden (D) The decking winds its way through to a


     Garden (E)


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© Jon Clokie 2006

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