2017 RHS rundown

As well as our private client projects, we’ve had a lot going on this past year, culminating in our two biggest events of the year: RHS Chelsea Flower Show and RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Well, now that the show gardens have been dismantled and the dust has settled, we can sit back and reminisce…

In May, after months of planning, we were at RHS Chelsea to build the Chilstone stand. The design centrepiece was the Kew fountain, which ran on recycled rainwater collected from the living Sedum roof of the bespoke garden studio.

The award-winning Chilstone stand. Image by David Bartholomew

The compact stand was designed by Sandstone’s Ali Dempster to elegantly display Chilstone’s stunning stonework, not least their contemporary Leda and the Swan sculpture, which was a finalist in the Garden Product of the Year category.  Well done to the Chilstone team!

And to top it all off, the stand won a 5 Star Tradestand Award!

Chilstone’s Pair of Doves. Image by David Bartholomew

Then, in July, following the success of last year’s collaboration with the RHS and the BBC, Sandstone Design were back building at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. This time we built the ‘delightful and delicious’ RHS Kitchen Garden, designed by Juliet Sargeant.

The garden, which took 19 twelve-hour days for 5 people to build and just 3 days to dismantle, was made up of mainly edible plants, an aquaponics glass house, which uses a sustainable and eco-friendly method of growing, and even a Pimms planter!

A glimpse of the RHS Kitchen Garden, built by Sandstone. Image by Emily Brown Photography

If the fabulous foodie garden itself wasn’t inspiration enough to grow and eat your own produce, The Hairy Bikers, Si King and Dave Myers, were broadcasting their new series Kitchen Garden Live throughout the week and in front of a celebrity audience. You can still watch all the episodes on BBC iPlayer. In episode 1, you can see Ali sitting next to Hollywood megastar, Stanley Tucci!

Sandstone owner and designer Ali with The Hairy Bikers and plantswoman Rossana Porta. Image by Emily Brown Photography

Ali also rubbed shoulders with TV presenter Charlotte Hawkins and Strictly judge Len Goodman. Other celebrities spotted included Bill Bailey and Mary Berry.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the world’s largest annual flower show, attracting an average of 130,000 visitors every year. We’re already looking forward to next year!

In other news, we’re excited to be working on a shiny new website and it’s due to launch at the beginning of September. Keep an eye out for it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2017 RHS rundown

Well I did say marvellously busy……..

……..so busy at Hampton Court in fact that there hasn’t been a moment to write Sandstone’s blog.
Why? Because Ali Dempster and Sandstone’s fantastic team of skilled landscapers spent 3 weeks creating the 4 winning “Feel Good Front Gardens” of the RHS and BBC Local Radio’s competition; this year’s contribution to build on the 2015 RHS campaign to Green Grey Britain.
A little background – Earlier this year 40 of the BBC’s local stations promoted the competition to find winning designs by amateurs using the theme “Feel Good Front Gardens Inspired by Where I Live”. The judging panel, Ann Marie Powell, James Alexander Sinclair and AliDempster then chose the winning designs to be built by Ali and the Sandstone team.
The winning gardeners and their gardens –
Kent’s Sarah Morgan and her “Beachscape Oyster Garden”, taking her inspiration from Whitstable and the North Kent Coast Landscape.
Bristol’s Simon Judge and his “Bristol Fashion” garden, with his inspiration from the S.S. Great Britain built in Bristol and designed by Isambard Brunel.
Manchester’s Lee Burkhill and his “Fancy a Brew Take a Pew” garden, with his inspiration coming from Manchester’s rich industrial past and community spirit.
Cornwall’s Jenny Booty, Lizz Dobinson, Nicky Shellis and Tim Walker and their ‘Tre Wostiwedh, (Home at Last)’ garden with the inspiration being Cornwall’s tin mining industry.

“CONGRATULATIONS all of you, it was a pleasure to work with you and turn your designs into the wonderful gardens that were received to such high acclaim by the experts and the public at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.” (Ali Dempster)
As stated by Ali the gardens were very well received indeed, in fact Gemma Lake (Deputy Show Manager) wrote the following:
“Ali Dempster, from Sandstone Design, joined forces with the RHS in early 2016, to act as contractor for RHS and BBC feature ‘Feel-Good Front Gardens.’ This was a key feature at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show where 4 amateur gardeners won the chance for their garden designs to be built at the show. Ali worked closely with all 4 winners to create four fantastic gardens – the build, materials used and finish was top quality and Ali and his team’s dedication helped make a memorable and successful feature at the show.”
A thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile experience for all at Sandstone Design especially as the RHS are continuing the campaign of Greening Grey Britain by hoping to turn 6000 grey spaces green by the end of 2017.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Well I did say marvellously busy……..

Spring, Spring, Spring.

Wow, spring is really underway now with the trees looking feathery, bulbs bursting out of the ground and landscape enquiries everywhere. How very positive it’s all looking.
Current work being completed by the team at Sandstone includes planting a 3 acre site in the Weald near Tonbridge to provide wonderful summer colour, building a lovely small courtyard garden in Tunbridge Wells and completing the modern oak framed garage.
Preparation is well underway for this year’s Hampton Court Garden with Ali Dempster having had a very constructive meeting with Garden designer and R.H.S. judge James Alexander- Sinclair and Chelsea gold medal winner, designer Ann-Marie Powell; the appointed mentors of the winning designers. Those designs will address the theme of a “Feel Good Garden” and the winners are going to be announced in May. So watch this space for more detail on the build for those gardens which commences in June in order to be ready for the show from the 5th -10th July.
Marvellously busy!



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring, Spring, Spring.

February has flown by leaving me grateful for the leap year.

In fact spring does seem to have started a little early this year judging by the number of enquiries that Sandstone is receiving, despite the rather wintry temperature.
Perhaps it’s just that people are more prepared and realise that if you want a new garden for the summer the process needs to be started early or that reputable companies fill their books well in advance.

As previously mentioned, Sandstone is proud to have been commissioned by The R.H.S. to build their “Health and wellbeing garden” for the Garden Show at Hampton Court July 2016. Plans are now under way and details will be posted on Twitter and Face book as they arise.

As well as this ongoing project, Sandstone is also completing other interesting work ranging from the installation of a hot tub into a natural stone terrace under a glazed canopy for clients in East Sussex, to a modern oak framed garage using slatted hardwood timber with modern metal roofing for clients in West Kent. Ali Dempster is also excited to be designing a large garden on the South Downs that is going to incorporate a swim spa covered by a glazed roof where the occupants will be able to enjoy a fantastic sea view.



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on February has flown by leaving me grateful for the leap year.

Seasonally Cold?

Well, we wouldn’t like to hazard a guess as to how long this cold snap will last but we are grateful that up until Christmas work continued with very few hold ups.
With any luck modern methods of laying paving and general hard landscaping will continue pretty much unscathed thanks to Sandstone’s brave, hardy and reliable team of landscapers. Ali has recently made the decision to put all planting on hold as he doesn’t want “the poor little things” to either drown or freeze and after 17 years of business Sandstone are in the fortunate position of being able to plan projects that can be completed regardless of external factors i.e. Naff weather. More sensitive work is held off until March / April including placing those young plants, which may be affected by frost, in the ground.
On another upbeat note we’ve probably all noticed that the days have begun to get longer and this means so does a landscaper’s working day relieving the pressure of trying to achieve eight hours work in the seven hours of light available. Roll on spring.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Seasonally Cold?

Unseasonal ?- only the temperature ….

……….. allowing Sandstone to “crack on” with our existing landscaping projects so we’ll be ready to start 2016 up to date and rearing to go.
Talking of next year, we have some projects booked that take us through to Spring along with many designs being drawn up as I speak so it’s all looking very positive.
Also rather excitingly Sandstone has already been commissioned by the R.H.S. to complete their Health and Wellbeing Garden for the Hampton Court Flower show 2016. Obviously we’ll keep you posted as more details of the project are finalised.
It only remains for all of us at Sandstone to wish you a very happy christmas and new year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Unseasonal ?- only the temperature ….

The End of Summer …

… and what a good Summer it’s been for Sandstone Design and our clients.

With the arrival of Autumn and cooler temperatures (eventually?) we have discovered that the clients of the 3 swim spas, fitted by Home Counties Pools and Hot Tubs (www.poolboy.co.uk ) and landscaped by Sandstone Design, have not and will not need to stop swimming. Due to the versatility of these pools and the skill of the designs of Ali Dempster, integrating the pool into your existing garden is not a problem. One of the pools fitted this Summer is above the ground, surrounded by a deck. A sliding deck cover enables the whole decking area to be used when the swim spa isn’t, thus achieving the best of both worlds. The other two pools are partially set in to the ground, one into a landscaped terrace with a hardwood surround and the other with random, Sussex sandstone walling with solid oak capping. Of course there is the third option of having your swim spa in the ground, more like a conventional swimming pool.

All our clients have the intention of continuing the use of their swim spas throughout the winter thereby being able to maintain their exercise and it’s benefits.

Perfect and I want one!


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The End of Summer …

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015 Winners Silver Gilt

Jacksons Fencing, Secret Garden Party designed by Jon Sims, constructed by Sandstone Design.
Take a look, quite beautiful.
This deserves a double June blog.
Late on Sunday evening Louise from Jacksons Fencing, Garden Designer Jon and the Sandstone Team all sat round the table and chairs placed in the middle of the Secret Garden Party and enjoyed a glass of champagne. They were celebrating the completion of the build that had taken 3 weeks and lots of hard work to get to the point of being ready for the judges on Monday.
Ali reflected how wonderful it had been to appreciate the beauty from within the garden that evening and the delight of seeing hundreds of people walking round and viewing the garden on Thursday when the Sandstone team visited again as spectators. This seems to underline that life is given to a garden by having people in them, making this show garden experiential and surely that is the point.
So congratulations to all involved, a job very well done.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015 Winners Silver Gilt

Sandstone Design and the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015

Well, what a fantastic experience building the show garden on behalf of Jacksons Fencing is turning out to be. Sandstone’s highly skilled team have been putting in the hours creating Jon Sim’s Secret Garden Party and are now nearing the exciting point of “finishing touches” where the planting and dressing is taking place. With the weather being kind throughout the build and the forecast for next week looking great why not get over there; I know there are still some tickets available. Judging takes place on Monday 29th June (a medal would be very nice) with the gates opening to the public from Tuesday through to Sunday 5th June.
Personally we feel that the location, size and the nature of the exhibitors, all contribute to making a day out at this show not only very interesting but also relaxing. Our stand number is 643 and is located near the Hampton Court Entrance so please come and say “hello.”
If you are interested in having a look at what’s been going on please have a look our Facebook and Twitter.
So Good Luck to all involved and long may the sun shine!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sandstone Design and the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015

It’s all very good.

I can’t help thinking that the weather this May Bank Holiday is just a blip and we’ll soon all be able to enjoy the light evenings as summer approaches fast.
Here at Sandstone we’re particularly enthused by Swim Spas, as they allow you to swim forever and go nowhere so they are the perfect solution for those of us without a lot of space and for those who don’t want a swimming pool but do want to swim.
It was a pleasure to complete the installation of a swim spa in Tunbridge Wells recently. By building a fully sliding cover, integral to the deck, the heat is not only kept in overnight but an extra seating area is also provided when closed. Together with the associated landscaping it looks really wow! There are two more swim spa projects booked and we’re currently looking at a 3rd.
We have also been commissioned to build a show garden at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015. Planning for this is already well underway with the build starting in mid June. Progression of this exciting and challenging project can be followed on Sandstone’s Facebook and Twitter feed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on It’s all very good.