Today’s installment of my garden design project series covers the bulk of the excavation & the hard landscaping. If you are following the #rachaeltaylorgarden tag on Instagram you will see sneak peeks at the progress & the almost finished result. The before photos that I shared in post 1 show how much of a transformation the garden has had, it’s truly unrecognisable & it’s hard now to picture it in the state we were welcomed with on our moving in day.
Beginning the excavation
The excavation images shared below demonstrate how much of an upheaval it was, from digging out original large sandstone boulders, to uncovering various car parts that were buried beneath. Another big task was to remove the huge amount of ivy the garden had become covered in as it was impossible to take care of & overwhelming to even try & maintain.
The minute the removal was started & the ivy was stripped from the fences, the garden appeared so much bigger & lighter & we began to realise what a generously sized garden we actually had. I also want to flag that we live in a conservation area so I made sure any of the original sandstone from our local & famous quarry found a new home. We donated it to neighbours, friends & family & retained the original steps as a feature in the garden. We had them cleaned up & relocated as I love the historic charm & character that they bring.
As I mentioned in posts 2 & 3 the design & to scale drawing we had made from the garden architect was helpful. The beauty of the plants, layout & hard landscaping materials selected would always really make the design sing as every detail had been extremely considered. Being a designer & stylist myself I was full of creative ideas of my own, from simple decoration of colourful bird boxes, to painted planters using an array of wonderful paint colours from Valspar - therefore I had no doubt about the final vision.
However, all this being said, the company we hired to do the landscaping & carry out the full job really did let us down on countless occasions making the process extremely stressful when it should have been enjoyable. There were numerous careless mistakes, such as laying a full patio & forgetting that a large canopy structure was meant to be cemented in first, despite the designer writing a clear specification in his plans (oh my!). I’m not usually one to speak negatively but we had many sleepless nights & upset from the ongoing battle & not to mention the ongoing waste of our time trying to resolve issues. For this reason I won’t recommend their services or add their links but I will continue to credit the companies & individuals that we found to be truly fantastic such as Global Stone, Bradstone, Churchill Sheds, Alder Electrics, BMG Painting & Decorating & Joshua Woods Joinery. It's a real blessing when you find good, reliable people! Certain elements were carried out to a good standard by particular individuals such as the patio, but due to what appeared to be extreme hap-hazard organisation & management we had to witness things getting smashed up & refitted again. As a business owner myself I couldn't quite believe how things continually tried to be fitted in the incorrect order or placed in the wrong position there just didn't seem to be any concern or quality control from the company. Unfortunately we still have some building work errors that need fixing but this is being carried out over the Winter now once the most of the herbaceous perennials have all died back. Luckily the garden is so busy with bursts of colour & shape & it has been extremely well styled so that we feel distracted enough over the Summer & can at least enjoy the garden without focusing on what is still left to do. We are dreading the ongoing issues that are yet to be resolved.
I could write a book…
I don’t think renovations are ever easy but I could seriously write a book about our garden process & I don’t think anyone would believe us! However we have documented every stage. Various photographers, magazines & even a TV show have already contacted me just after seeing a few snippets that I'd shared on Instagram, so it’s a real shame that I feel I can’t recommend the company we hired. I ended up declining the TV offer as the thought of a camera following me around as I was looking truly stressed was never going to be a good idea. I also missed out on a photoshoot with a renowned leading photographer due to the ongoing issues & delays with the company & as a designer & stylist this was extremely frustrating as those sort of features are always a great platform for my styling work. I had high expectations since we had already gone to the trouble of having a detailed, scaled, landscape architect design drawn up plus we were sold a very good pitch at the recruitment stage from our landscapers (we have of course since found it to be completely misleading & false). I'm an honest person so what I will say is they did do a good job with the new lawn, the individuals who worked on it were great & adding in the plants went smoothly, which was a relief! However I did stress that the garden architect was hired by the landscapers to oversee the plant organisation so that obviously helped as I had nightmares about the detailed planting scheme being completely ignored, however the two people that helped to plant up had luckily been good to us throughout so that made that part of the process more of a pleasure. The company hired are trying to fix numerous faulty elements & errors (& some we are being forced to accept) but it’s disappointing to have to live through so many fixes when you just want something built as it was briefed originally, especially as we never once tried to amend the design.
You may wonder why we didn’t choose to bring someone else in - it’s extremely tricky to find a company willing to fix other people’s mistakes & it would also affect our warranty on materials via the Bradstones Assured Scheme as we struggled to find another Liverpool landscaper who offered the same service with the Bradstone products. So we tried to keep & calm & carry on, & the beautiful plants that we have in the garden now keep us smiling. In my little one’s (Blayke’s) words “Mummy I love you in the garden” & “the garden is super amazing”. Don’t you just love how kids view everything with rose tinted glasses? It’s so refreshing! Oh to be a toddler when beauty distracts you in all the right ways.
I promise the beautiful images of the design are coming your way very soon… You can can refer to posts 1, 2, & 3 for the initial planning stages as I will continue to post the process in consecutive order.
We wanted to design the front garden over the Summer with the hope of carrying out the work during early 2018. However we are now taking a little break. I wonder if Alan Titschmarch & his team are free for a challenge?