Wednesday, 19 August 2015

John Henry's very smart garden

Since I became a student again (at the same time as having a job, which I guess is going to be more common in the future) I've been enjoying the utopian glory of university buildings, in particular the John Henry building, an insane cantilevered learning facilitation space containing a coffee shop, a library, lecture theatres, IT suites, the union, etc. I expect there's even a wildly overdesigned bar in there somewhere.

Just outside there is this, which is the garden nearest to a show garden I have ever seen.

Student Central Garden, Brookes University Hardy perennials gapped wall and small trees
contemplation lawn Student Central Garden, Brookes University Student Central Garden, Brookes University
The 60s side of the quad Ferns and trees peeking through the birches

I like the multiple underfoot textures; it's a pleasant thing to walk across. The plane tree bark picks up the block paving, and the cheerful blue panels on the sixties building peek impishly through the delicate birch tree screening. Some of the beds look a little dry and shallow - especially the ones in the paving area. You can see which of the trees are poor relations, starved of water and light. And that yew hedge has brown trees where the dry summer has bitten down hard.

Restrained palette, simple lines, bold structures; it's a very background, restful, comfortable, undistracting place. But it is a bit cold maybe, a bit like an architect's drawing of a garden, rather than an actual garden. Maybe in a few years, when it's grown in, things will seem a little less, well - straight.

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