Native Texan plants, palm trees, a prairie and a dried river bed. Not typically features you would expect to see in the grounds of a business centre in Bedford but that’s exactly what greets tenant businesses and visitors every day as they make their way in to Bedford Heights on Brickhill Drive.
So why Texas? The link comes from electronics giant Texas Instruments, which in 1960 chose to locate its UK HQ in the then sleepy East Anglian market town. Built with a hurricane-proof roof, to a blueprint of their Dallas HQ, in recent years the building has been transformed into the town’s premier business destination offering contemporary workspace, high quality facilities including Graze Café, Lounge, an impressive Reception, courtyards and a conference venue. The extensive refurbishment pays homage to the building’s heritage and Texan elements have been incorporated into the design of both the interior and exterior.
The Texan Riverbed Garden is believed to be the only one of its kind in the UK. Designed and planted by Graham Pavey Garden Design, a business based in the business centre, it’s maintained by Graham and his team, and Bedford Heights gardener Dave Boyd.
The garden provokes plenty of interest and discussion and here Graham explains how he set about creating this striking and unusual landscape.
“The central theme of the design is an arroyo, or dried river bed, meandering through a prairie. The ‘river’ area features cobblestones and rocks, laid as if they have been washed down from the mountains, in colours which reflect the variety of rocks native to Texas. The larger boulder stones were created especially for the garden by David Crook at Sherington Nurseries in Newport Pagnell.”
Down to earth
“The design was easy but we needed to create the right environment for the plants we intended to grow. We knew we wanted to grow native plants and particularly grasses, so we needed a very dry soil. The Bedfordshire clay would be deadly to many of these plants so we had it removed to a depth of 30cm. An extensive network of drains was then installed and a special recipe of soil was made up for us by a company in Norfolk.”
“In terms of the plants themselves, many plants native to Texas are in fact hardy enough to grow here in the UK however there are very few grown commercially. We were able to source agaves, yuccas, hesperaloe, opuntias and eryngiums, and Christine Dakin at Bridge Nursery in Warwickshire grew a lot of plants for us from seed, many of which are rarely seen on our shores. The Cercis, sidalcea and panicums are the only natives which are extensively cultivated here.
“In some instances we weren’t able to get hold of exactly what we wanted and so we substituted for a similar plant. To ensure some winter structure we added evergreen myrtle and Chamaerops humilis, a small palm. Also, the very dry soil should ensure the grasses maintain their shape through the winter.”
Graham and his team are currently working with Bedford Heights organising tours of the Texan Riverbed Garden and the courtyard gardens. To find out more about a gardens tour, contact Graham on 01234 244 500.
For more information on Bedford Heights and available office space, to enquire about hiring its conference and meeting rooms, or co working and virtual office packages, call 01234 244 500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.