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In The Bleak Midwinter – where to find inspiration

Posted on 18th Jan, 2011

Amazing what a difference a day makes.

Yesterday we took delivery of 11 trees amidst a tumultuous downpour. With heavy dark grey skies within minutes we were soaked and the rain sodden earth made moving ourselves, let alone trees almost impossible. Spirits were low but the guys still managed to josh about extreme weather payments. Trudging home on the tube wet and caked in mud, feeling like a social piriah from the stares of fellow travellers, it would be easy to wish for the warmth of a cosy office and the salary at the end of the month! But luckily, then a day like today comes along. A day with bright clear blue winter sky and the low sun highlighting trees and shrubs so that suddenly you notice new shoots – of snowdrops, tips of narcissus leaves, fat Camelia buds all set to burst, and all around winter scent, Sarcocca, Witch hazel, Viburnum – and you remember, that this is why we do what we do.

Designers look to many things for inspiration and sometimes it is found in surprising places and at unexpected times. What ever or where ever it is a vital tool. Today I was inspired first by a talk and second by an experience. The talk by Tony Kirkham the head of arboriculture at Kew focused on what inspired him to propose the Rhizotron & Xstrata treetop walkway at Kew. Following the talk we experienced the walkway for ourselves. With the sun dipping towards the horizon, the weathered steel glowed burnt orange and blended well with the tree trunks. Experiencing being ‘in the trees’, amidst the branches with the birds, and the extensive views over London, its easy to see why this has become such a hugely popular attraction. A major engineering feat and a logistical challenge it is simple but beautiful and fits wonderfully into the Kew landscape. Inspired it sent me bouncing back on the tube – pen in hand doodling away with ideas for weathered steel garden features!!!

What a different tube ride.

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