Diane Holness

Diane-Holness-garden-designer

Diane Holness founder and designer at Urban Eden Designs

I have been making things and drawing from the time I could sit upright and I studied sculpture as my first degree.
Much of my artwork was based around our connection with the landscape and the forms of the natural world.  I also aimed to place work outside as part of the environment and to make sculpture in response to particular places.

My love of the visual and tactile  also blossomed into a love of gardening and  into a broader interest and concern for  the environment.  I went back to University at Gloucester in 2005 to study Landscape Architecture in order to work in the area of environmental improvement and preservation.

After graduating I went to work as an assistant landscape architect at New Leaf  Studio in Bristol working on planting plans, drawing up the partners’ designs in AutoCAD and contributing ideas to the company’s projects.  After eighteen months the credit crunch hit and I had to move on to something new once more – but not without gaining a great deal of valuable experience.

A corner of a planting plan with areas of planting round a building and labels with the Latin names and numbers of plants in each station.

This is a vignette of a planting plans done during my time as a landscape architect. This was for a sheltered housing scheme, and had to be both low maintenance and have the charm of a traditional garden. The plans i do now look difference but have that knowledge of ‘bomb proof’ , tried and tested plants to draw on for busy people’s gardens.

I set up Urban Eden Designs because I want to find ways to make our lives in cities more enjoyable, sustainable and fulfilling. I think we can do this by bringing more life into our gardens with planting that makes the most of sometimes very limited space and by bringing in birds and insects.

If people can also grow some of their own food it has many benefits –  it reconnects us with nature and the seasons, brings relief from stress, teaches children about how to care for things and where food comes from, and the good fresh food enhances health, saves money and gives such pleasure and satisfaction when it’s time to harvest and eat it.

My own garden in Bristol is an average terraced house back garden – about 4 by 4.5m, but I have two cherry trees in pots, blueberry bushes and a kiwi.  I’m currently reworking the garden to make more raised beds and to install rainwater harvesting which will flush the loo and water the garden with a low tech gravity fed system.  Designs for that are on the My Garden page.

I plan to add a fig tree, apple step-over , a blackcurrant bush and herbs to the planting when the garden’s hard landscaping is done.  Where space is short I would always prioritise high cost crops such as fruit and herbs which with a good recipe can make cheap ingredients taste wonderful.

Work from a previous career as a model maker, two puppets made for a sweets commercial - a pineapple and  a banana, which are realistic except for their little arms, legs and faces!

Even in a previous career as a model maker I found fruit spoke to me…

In addition to my design and gardening work I am also helping to teach children how to garden in a Bristol school, which is great fun and very worthwhile as they are so  enthusiastic and awed by the everyday miracle of plants growing and making food.

As a side effect of doing this work  I have a DBS (previously a CRB) enhanced certificate which permits me to work with children and vulnerable adults.  I would be very happy to do more work like this as encouraging people to grow and enjoy nature is my driving motivation.

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