For this week's blog we welcome Andrew Thornhill as a quest writer, a partner from our landscape architects Churchman Thornhill Finch. Andrew shares an update on the landscaping development at our new hospice:
"With the hot spring and the external building works sufficiently finished, the transformation of the landscape has been progressing quickly with the many thousands of tonnes of earth works taking shape. The soil used on the project is 99% site won, it has been stockpiled over the course of the project, tested and then placed according to an agreed strategy to promote good plant health.
"The central water courtyard is nearly finished, lined with a pebble base for when its really dry and the stream becomes a trickle, but designed to take the full flows we know can occur. The lower cascade is taking shape and both the stone weirs are undergoing some fine-tuning to ensure the water flows over the stone and not through the mortar joints. This will ensure the pools retain as much of the water as has been permitted by the Environment Agency and helps to sustain the marginal plants that will populate the edges of the watercourse. One very large stone proved too challenging to install in the water courtyard due to the progress on the building and limited crane access. This has found a new home in a small walled courtyard next to the Inpatient Unit. Here it forms part of composition with a donated Acer tree selected by Thames Hospice CEO Debbie from a local nursery. The rock represents the persistence of time and the tree is by its nature ephemeral and will highlight the seasons."
"The car parks are nearing completion with all the parking bays installed and the planted beds filled with soil and even some trees. This is later than planned and requires constant watering to ensure the trees establish well and this is being monitored closely. The temporary shut down across the country combined with delays to soil works caused by wet weather have pushed the tree planting out by 3 months.
"Stone work to the garden walls is progressing and the stone patios are just about to commence. The meandering bound gravel paths are having the metal edging installed ready to receive the finishes. Achieving the smooth flowing curves of the design takes care and can’t be rushed. We will check and sign off the alignments before the base course tarmac is installed. On my last visit I saw that some of the wood carved creatures had been delivered; a badger, ladybird and a snail for the family courtyard. These are soon to be joined by a delightful horse and hare sculpture for the meadow in front of the Paul Bevan Centre and large slate ball water feature for the arrival courtyard. We have just received the final fabrication drawings for the large 10m bridge that spans the stream between the café and the Sanctuary meadows. With a few minor comments to address, this will now be fabricated and brought to site.
"The landscape is really taking shape now, although most of the planting is likely to be installed at the back end of the summer to avoid the mid-summer heat. The next few weeks should complete the main formation works and most of the hard landscape finishes."