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    Chelsea Flower Show - Tom Hoblyn Italian Garden Project

    May 6th, 2012 in Case Studies, Factory Visits, Stone Finishes

    Towards the end of last year we were approached by Keith Horn Architecture and Tom Hoblyn the well respected garden designer to source the travertine required for their garden. The Classic Roman Travertine was naturally to be sourced from the quarries in Tivoli. The contractor to undertake the difficult task of actually turning the concept into reality was Dan Riddleston, Bowles & Wyer Contracts Limited. Dan had not only to coordinate the various aspects of the project – for example the complicated and high quality steelwork for the water feature, planting the 9m rocket trees imported from Tuscany and handling the massive pieces of stone – but had to get it done in just over a week!! Incredible.

    The first and most important task was to work out the best way to create the rough quarry face required for the back wall. The rough hewn unharnessed aspect of the garden. I suggested the best way would be to actually use the skin from the travertine blocks extracted out of the quarry. This would obviously replicate the quarry face and as the quarry face is naturally split, not wire sawn or chainsaw cut it was as natural you could possibly get. In the garden this would be mixed with honed unfilled vein cut travertine and honed and filled travertine and the influence of man gathers pace from one end of the garden to the other.

    Using block skins was a difficult option but once I had suggested this route the design team were keen to pursue it. We needed to make sure the skins were reasonably consistent in colour and finish, then the thickness had to be regulated to allow us to fix without too much trouble. These skins would be mixed with a smaller split face units made using a guillotine. this created the same finish as the huge pieces cut from skin. This method was limited in the sizes it can achieve so was not an option for the largest pieces if the scale of the original design was to be maintained.

    The block skin idea caused a few more problems that we first envisaged. Not only the size, finish and thickness but the faces has dusty white naturally occurring deposits that in the main were able to be removed by a high pressure water jet (administered by me at times) then a localised acid treatment. Once all pieces washed and treated we dry laid everything for Tom and Keith to inspect prior to loading.

    We also dry laid the smaller split pieces and also the 75mm thick seat formed from vein cut travertine honed and resin filled and with a full bullnose on two long edges. They were cut so the veins would match along the length. All the travertine selected for the garden was of exceptional quality and I look forward to seeing all the finishes together from rough hewn to unfilled, honed and cement filled, resin filled as well as sandblasted.