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52. Kiss

Crikey, my final post on this blog! 52 entries come around quick. It’s been a full year since I started this student exercise and now it’s time to graduate: me as a designer and my blog as a new, ‘professionally’ orientated one. It’s a strange time to transition. I’m still part way through my Europe trip and I won’t receive my final mark until October but I must move on to starting my own business as a professional landscape designer. The decision to kiss my perfectly good job goodbye and train for a new, creative career was a scary/crazy/amazing one. It’s been a challenging but very exciting year and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Better wait a month or so until I get it all up and running but then please check out my forthcoming website tracyrichdesign.com for a link to my new blog and a tale or two of other European gardens. Well, I guess that’s it! It’s been fun having you along for the ride and thanks so much for reading! XoXo

51. Light

While in the Netherlands we visit De Hoge Veluwe National Park. This isn’t too far from Piet and Anja Oudolf’s nursery in Hummelo and, as we cycle around the park on our free white bicycles, I wonder if the native grasslands and wildflowers of the park directly influenced Piet’s naturalistic planting style. We end up at the Kröller-Müller museum and spend most of the day wandering around its enormous and wonderful sculpture park. Again, influence for the Dutch-born Hannah Peschar’s sculpture garden in Surrey?

We manage to fit in two other parks/gardens this week. First, Tiergarten in Berlin. I enjoy strolling though its light woods on my way to see three of Berlin’s super fabulous art museums: Kunstgewerbemuseum -Decorative Arts (strangely I was the only visitor for over an hour but it’s v good, honest) Gemäldegalerie – Old Master Paintings (lots of brown paintings; consider appropriate shoe wear – mine squeaked embarrassingly loudly on the wooden floors) and the Neue Nationalgalerie – Modern Art (housed in an uber-stylish black-on-black Mies van der Rohe building).

Then in Prague we walk through the Royal Gardens (Královská zahrada). Pleasant enough and they do have a funky high-tech stainless steel Orangery that must have cost a pretty penny. More interesting is an evening tour of the Municipal House (Obecní dům). It’s a restored Art Nouveau building in the centre of Prague decorated by significant Czech artists. Absolutely exquisite craftsmanship. I take note of some lovely designs that could be used for garden screens or paving. Finally a good post-garden tip: Kozel dark beer.

50. Zoom

Following a bit of a lengthy to-do with my printer, I manage to post my final project, the Soft Landscape Portfolio, the day before I zoom off on holiday. My in-laws have ever-so-kindly given me eurail tickets as a graduation present and I am to spend the next month with them in ‘Yurp’. I cunningly sneak a fair few gardens into the jam-packed itinerary, which essentially involves going to Greece and back.

The first garden I drag everyone to is Het Loo in the Netherlands. It’s a formal 17th century garden with many different types of parterre and splooshy fountains. Despite my slight aversion to all things clipped, we all really enjoy strolling around – probably helped by the warm, sunny day. But also because the layout is such a cohesive, tidy tapestry where the shapes and colours work really well. After a previous overnight in Haarlem, where we are seduced by roof gardens and grapevines shading brick alleys, we all decide we want to be Dutch.

49. Busy

I attend my first regional meeting of the Society of Garden Designers at Stirling’s Macrobert. They are a friendly and welcoming bunch and meet for a few hours once a month – mainly for a bit of therapy and a chat in the guise of professional interest. Working at home can be lonely at times and it’ll be great to meet up with other designers – even if they are officially the ‘competition’. Half the folk seem to go to the Edinburgh group as well as the Central Scotland one as they live close to both and like both groups. I may just do this too; I’m crazy-busy now but am anticipating lots of free time in the coming months! As well as the chat we have a tips and tricks talk by local landscape photographer Paul Holloway. He hikes up and down mountains and waits hours for just the right light. Check out the super photos on his website.

48. Impression

A bit of culture in Auld Reekie this week. Sheltering from the rain at Edinburgh Botanic I chance upon an exhibit by Joan Mitchell. She was one of the few women Abstract Expressionists and I totally fall in love with her colourful blobs and squiggles on enormous canvases. Perhaps because I’d spent the last few weeks immersed in plant portfolios, her work immediately looks to me like planting schemes! She was greatly influenced by nature and the emotions it produces. Really good with colour combinations. She even intuitively assigned a colour to each letter of the alphabet. ‘A’ is green of course.

I then pay top dollar to see the Impressionist Gardens exhibit at the Royal Scottish Academy. Most of the works are pleasant but a bit dull – crowd pleasers for the annual Edinburgh Festival in August. But a few fab highlights are: Sargent’s The Luxembourg Gardens at Twilight, Curran’s Lotus Lilies and a couple of works by Klimt. You can see some here, though its always more impressive when you see paintings in person. By examining the paintings I discovered that private gardens a few hundred years ago were slightly messy and full of enormous quantities of pots and cabbages.

47. Hot

My sister and her family arrive and we all decamp to my parents’ house in Dunkeld for the week. Some of the days are fantastically sunny and hot and I can’t bear to be inside working on the computer. Instead, I spend a lot of time building some walls for a two-level terrace on a steep bank that makes a quarter-curve around the house’s main patio. I need to get it ready for a delivery of 16 tons of topsoil. Though I drive even my Dad (who’s an Engineer) a bit mad insisting on measuring and re-measuring to get a mathematically accurate curve, we now love it! Very Greek Theatre. We spend a lot of time just sitting and admiring the dirty walls and bare soil and wondering if we can host plays. Now I just have to do a planting plan for the terrace beds that relies on cheap/free plants for my parents’ dwindling budget. Er…no problem.