Arne's journal

Blue palms in Miami

On a recent trip to Miami I found some amazing palm trees (Bismarckia regia) for an ongoing project in Kuwait. They have the most beautiful blue leaves with ebony seeds providing an arresting contrast to the blue. I never thought I could get excited about palms but I am discovering a completely new palette and really enjoying the challenge of working in a completely different climate with such exotics. We will plant Aeonium schwarzkopf beneath the palms, the foliage of the succulent leaves picking out the dark seed pods of the trees. I have a specimen thriving in a terracotta pot on my terrace table at home.

Bismarckia regia view from base of the trunkBismarckia regia stem detailBlack seeds of Bismarckia regiaChoosing the right tree

Minnesota wild prairie planting

I always love to discover where the plants I use so often in planting schemes in Britain thrive in the wild. A recent visit to Minnesota showed favourite herbaceous border plants growing wild in prairie planting there. Baptisia and Echinacea were thriving and I saw Amsonia tabernaemontana growing four feet tall! All were found at the beautiful and surprising Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, situated about 10 miles outside Minneapolis. In addition to the native prairie and wildflower gardens, a series of wetland gardens connected by streams reveals a collection of the State flower of Minnesota, the lady's slipper orchid. The garden is both beautiful and exciting and the visit provided real stimulation with plenty of ideas to use in projects I have in progress.


Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Lady's slipper orchid, the state flower of Minnesota

Stefano on Schwartz

Stefano Marinaz, Designer and Project Manager at Arne Maynard Garden Design, reflects on the Martha Schwartz city park in front of the US Courthouse buildings in downtown Minneapolis. But it's what the garden conceals which he finds most interesting.


It's so refreshing to see an inner-city space landscaped to suit both the buildings around it - in this case the Minneapolis US Courthouse - and the people who use it. Martha Schwartz's established urban space in Central Minneapolis does just that - but the most interesting thing I found about the design was the car park it hides underneath it. Trees have been planted to great effect - native Minnesotan jack pines - despite the car parking space directly beneath the area - and the grassy mounds, which form the main design element, are intended as security features for the courthouse. So the effect is both beautiful and functional.


The park itself is well documented, having been designed in the mid 1990's by Martha Schwartz as part of the new US Courthouse development. Budget restraints meant that an area originally intended as a fountain is now a display for public art, and the simplicity of the minimalist design makes for easy maintenance, again, keeping costs low. But for me the grass, kept long for a lush and natural effect, gives this space unexpected life. Log benches provide welcome rest points and people are able to walk or lie on the grass meaning the space is well used by office workers at lunchtime. The sculptures pictured here are by Tom Otterness.


Our inner-city studio in central London creates magnificent garden projects for clients across the world - if only our urban surroundings were as inspiring and refreshing as those in Central Minneapolis.


Martha Schwartz

Minneapolis US Courthouse

Tom Otterness

Central Minneapolis with courthouse buildings behind Martha Schwartz's urban parkView through Schwartz's park in Central MinneapolisView through Schwartz's park in Central MinneapolisTom Otterness sculpture in Schwartz's Minneapolis courthouse garden

Dan's Cretan getaway

Dan Back, Designer and Project Manager at Arne Maynard Garden Design, recently returned from a sunny holiday in Crete with a surprising tale of cliff top wild flowers. He shares some of his holiday snaps and takes us back to Greece.


I reluctantly returned from a wonderfully sunny two weeks in Crete to the Central London design studio with a surprising tale of Greek cliff top wild flowers. Yes, a holiday is supposed to give you a break from the day-job but when you love and work with plants you can never quite escape. And, to be honest, there's only so much beach bathing and sea fishing one man and his son can indulge in before heading for the hills!


So, we found ourselves taking a brisk and refreshing hill walk, setting off from our beach-side hotel and heading up and over the cliffs. The views were breath-taking but even more amazing were the wild plants I found growing there. Native Cretans must surely never tire of seeing the caper plant (Capparis orientalis) flower, particularly when they find wild alliums and giant thistles growing alongside. I also found sea-holly (Eryngium maritimum), sea-lavender and a brilliant wiry, ground-hugging plant calledLaunaea arborescenswhich creeps over cliff top rocks and among other plants giving everything a silvery sheen. Its silver blue foliage is the perfect complement to an azure blue seascape.

Capparis orientalis (caper berry) in full flower in CreteEryngium maritimum (sea holly) in CreteLaunaea arborescens gives the cliff top a silvery sheenWild alliumGiant thistles in bloom

Chelsea calling

I am really very excited to have been announced by Laurent-Perrier as their designer for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2012, the bicentenary year of the iconic champagne house. Having thought about a design for the show for several years now I am very pleased to have this opportunity to work alongside such a brand. I spent a few days at the show this May to start to choose plants for my design. I always enjoy Chelsea, particularly the time I spend wandering round the floral marquee. I never tire of it. The nursery displays are what make Chelsea so special.


Also exciting of course was seeing this year's show gardens. Cleve West's garden for the Telegraph was indeed beautiful as was Luciano's for Laurent-Perrier. My congratulations go to both of them for their gold medals.


I always find inspiration from the show and this year was no exception. I thought the planting scheme on Anne Marie Powell's garden for the British Heart Foundation was particularly lovely. Red is very hard to use in a colour scheme but its use in this garden, cooled considerably by the green palette of plants, was incredibly inspiring. I certainly hope to borrow and reinterpret ideas from this garden.


When visiting any show or nursery I can't help but spot plants I would like to introduce to my own garden. Rosa 'Natasha Richardson', introduced by Harkness Roses, is a beautiful clear pale pink scented rose and Avon Bulbs showed an amazing new crushed mulberry coloured opium poppy, Papaver somniferum 'Chartreuse', both of which I have ordered for Allt-y-bela.