Only if you can retain control of the whole process can you really control the quality. The real reason we get involved in construction is because we love it. We have a real enthusiasm for all aspects of the process. It is a philosophical point as well as a practical one. The design and construction process are inextricably linked.
As landscape architects or garden designers, many of us spend a good deal of our time designing (though perhaps not as much as we would like). This is probably the most important and distinctive part of our work. Yet try to get designers to talk about how they go about this and one is confronted with blank looks of misunderstanding. During interviews I almost always ask prospective staff – how do they design? Blank. What processes do they go through? Blank. What do they actually do? Few people can even put one sentence together about the design process let alone come up with any coherent analysis.
At college most of us were taught the ‘Survey-Analysis-Design’ method, which grew from and is linked to the modernist mantra of “form follows function”. This principle is so deeply rooted as to have become almost unassailable. At its core is the idea that an object is inherently beautiful if it fulfils the use for which it was designed. In other words by satisfying the first two Vitruvian principles of commodity and firmness, the third (delight) is automatically satisfied. Whilst in many cases this is true (Mies van der Rohe’s buildings for instance) it is also flawed. Do you suppose that the beauty in Calatrava’s work is purely an expression of form follows function? I think not.
The essential inconsistency in ‘Survey-Analysis-Design’ (SAD) is the implication that it is made up of three equal and similar partners. On both counts this is untrue. Survey is a process of gathering information and although there is a subjective element in the filtering and recording of information, it is essentially a quantitive process. Analysis on the other hand is essentially a qualitative process. Nonetheless, both elements have established methodologies and rely on ordered and rational procedures. At this point we are expected to make what Tom Turner calls “the creative leap”1. The SAD method is taught as though the design grows naturally and organically from the first two stages. If this were true, we would all (like first year college students) come up with the same solutions to design challenges. In fact the creative process is quite different in its nature. It relies on ‘ideas’ that are filtered and modified against a rational framework to make them work in the real world. Thus the SAD method is a way of modifying ideas rather than originating them.
So where do these ideas come from? To most of us it is a mystery. As Mattias Konradsson puts it: “..ask a friend to think up something creative on the spot and he’ll look like he ate a bowl of ice cream in a hurry. It’s indeed an elusive process. Creativity and ideas don’t come on command, they seem to spring up when we least expect it”2. Much of the writing on the subject of design theory intellectualises this process. Methodologies, systems and theories have been put forward, but most post-rationalise what is essentially an intuitive process.
Instead of trying to dissect and categorise the process of idea origination, it probably makes more sense to try and examine how the brain works. Most designers are exposed to myriad cultural, spiritual and other influences that are clearly inspirational. Nonetheless, most people still talk about ideas coming ‘out of the blue’ and we are all familiar with the way in which they can be triggered by unexpected sources. One theory that looks at this in more detail is that of brain hemispheres. The “left brain – right brain” hypothesis was initially put forward by Roger Sperry who won a Nobel Prize for his work in 1981. In simple terms, he postulated that the left part of the brain controls the rational, analytical, objective, and detailed parts of our thinking; generally in a conscious fashion. The right part of the brain is responsible for the intuitive, random parts of our thinking. It works on a subconscious level and focuses on aesthetics, emotions, creativity and subjectivity. It is certainly true that the subconscious plays a critical part in the generation of ideas.
Perhaps it is impossible to successfully analyse creativity. Some people are naturally creative designers, and others will never be. For most of us in the middle, the ability to create and develop ideas that are the seeds of designs is something that can be fostered and refined. This partly happens through practice, and partly by the adoption of specific strategies.
In my experience the most successful design strategies work by giving the subconscious parts of the brain more free rein to work. The most effective of these is the deadline. If I have all day or all week to work on something, most of it is spent in a state of constipated frustration. Instead of producing something better I produce something worse. The other strategy I use is to do something else. Absorb the details of the site and then work on other things for a week or so before coming back and working ideas up quite quickly. Often just when I think I have things right, the client changes some parameter. I reluctantly rework the scheme only to discover that I have come up with a better solution than the original. All of these indicate that if we constrain our thought processes with too much methodology, we limit our ability to generate ideas. Of course, these ideas are loose fluffy masses which must be clipped and beaten into shape against a framework of principles. These may be site specific or more general and are part of the signature of individual designers as well as determining how practical their schemes are.
So where does this leave us. Survey-Analysis-Design is not really a method at all. The best ideas come while you’re in the bath. And if you try to design things by a method you can’t do it at all. Best not to think about it I say. Now, about that deadline…..
This article first appeared in Landscape Magazine under the title ‘Finding the form’.
What are your favourite ways of stimulating the design process? Leave a comment.
- Tom Turner. Garden Design Journal Autumn 1999: ‘Timeless with delight’
- Mattias Konradsson. ‘The Creative Process’ A List Apart ISSN: 1534-0295. 12 March 1999 – Issue No. 8
This spring it seems Britain is a-buzz about bees … many of us have suddenly woken up to the fact that bees are more than just our honey-slaves, and that if we don’t look after our pollinating insects, our food production system could be in serious trouble. If this sounds melodramatic then stop to consider that in the UK alone, pollination is calculated to be worth about £430m to the national economy – food for thought!
Paradoxically it is modern farming practices that have swept away so much of the natural foraging grounds for our bees. Bees feed on pollen and nectar which they collect from flowers, and there are simply far fewer flowers in the countryside these days. Hedges have been removed, marshes drained and over 97% of flower-rich meadows have been lost from the UK. Add to that new research from France suggesting that common pesticides damage bees’ ability to navigate and dramatically reduce the numbers of queens they produce, and it’s little wonder bees are struggling!
Gardens are just about the only place left to them and even they are becoming unwelcoming: the fashion for sleek lawns, monoculture planting and everything clipped to within an inch of its life does not make for an attractive world to pollinators. They need flowers – but not just any flowers – sadly most annual bedding plants (eg Pelargoniums, Begonias, Busy Lizzies) have no nectar in them – you might as well be planting artificial flowers for all the use they are to bees.
So, aside from campaigning to change the way Britain is farmed (good luck with that one!), how can we help the nation’s pollinating insects? Well there’s hope for bees in even the smallest garden:
Instead of filling your pots and windowboxes with bedding, why not plant flowering perennials or shrubs instead – lavender is the classic bee plant and there are many different types, but also think about catmint, lilies, sedums, hebes and heathers. If you’re absolutely wedded to bedding try wallflowers, sweet peas, cosmos, heliotrope or nicotiana – bees love them.
Herbs can be great for pollinators too: rosemary, fennel, hyssop, mint, oregano and sage are all nectar-rich and no kitchen doorstep should be without them. You could even plant up the joints between paving slabs with herbs and flowers – like thyme, thrift or erigeron daisies.
But if space is really at a premium think vertically: climbers are great way to add nectar – and texture – to a small space: favourite plants for pollinators include wisteria, honeysuckle, open-flowered roses, climbing hydrangea or if you’ve got room, wall shrubs like Ceanothus, Cytisus battenderii (the pineapple broom) or any of the Buddleias.
For the medium-sized garden, why not create an area for cottage garden flowers? A sunny border filled with achillea, campanula, hollyhocks, delphiniums, penstemons and asters will be buzzing with insect life; or for shadier areas plant lungwort, bugle, foxgloves and astrantia. If you have gaps in existing borders, why not fill them with easy annuals like cosmos, cornflowers, love-in-a-mist, eschscholzia or calendula – there are some great colour coordinated bee-friendly seed mixes about. Or go wild and sow some native wildflowers: bistort, verbascum, teasel and viper’s bugloss – a brilliant bee plant.
But the mayhem of the cottage garden isn’t for everyone. If you like your planting strong and structural, you can still benefit bees by using statuesque plants like angelica, cardoon, globe thistle or drifts of iris, alliums, and the ever-popular but wonderful Verbena bonariensis.
For the larger garden there are several different ways you can improve your bee-friendliness, from tree or hedge planting to meadow creation (a subject so complex it merits a blog of its own).
Fruit tree blossom is very attractive to bees, so creating an orchard or forest garden (the more natural equivalent) would be a great idea if you have the space. If that’s not possible, why not plant a crab apple, cherry or Judas tree and enjoy it for the blossom alone. And, while people tend to either love ’em or loath ’em, bees adore laburnums, so if you’re that way inclined, a laburnum arch would be a pollinator’s dream. And for the yellow-phobes among us, wisteria is a more restrained alternative.
Hedgerows are great places for all sorts of wildlife, but they can be a really important food resource for pollinators especially if wildflowers are encouraged to grow up along the base. They also provide good nesting sites for bumblebees. If you’re planning on planting a new hedge, think mixed and native: the hedgerow blossom of hawthorn, blackthorn, wild plum, dog rose, and honeysuckle are all well-loved by pollinating insects – throw in wildflowers like ox eye daisy, knapweed, red clover, scabious, sanfoin and viper’s bugloss at the base and you have a year-round supply of nectar.
Which brings me to a few important considerations: bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects need a regular supply of nectar all year round, so it’s important to plan your planting so you have several plants flowering at any given time right across the year. Pollinating insects come in all shapes and sizes, and different shaped flowers suit different species so mix it up floristically-speaking. And as a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid plants with double flowers – they keep their nectar hidden away making harder for bees to get at.
Any good garden designer will be bearing all this in mind anyway: providing seasonal interest for their client and ensuring that sustainable, environmentally-friendly options are given full consideration. If you feel inspired to take on transforming your patch into a pollinators’ paradise, there is plenty of information on the following websites – enjoy!
One final thought – if you are keen to attract and encourage pollinators, but can’t completely kick the pesticide habit, then please check the ingredients of the products you use very carefully and keep your eye on the news. Several commonly used chemicals: Imidacloprid, Acetamiprid, Thiacloprid and Thiamethoxam, have already been potentially implicated in bee decline, and I doubt they’ll be the last…
A conversation in the office the other day between John and Jeff went something like this…. John ‘ I met up with Mr A.nonymous designer last night’ Jeff in reply ‘Cotinus Grace!’. Jeff is a passionate horticulturalist but he has a broad vocabulary and frequently uses words that are not plant names to communicate a point. So why the reply … well this was the plant that Jeff associated with the Mr A.nonymous when he used to plant his schemes back in the 1990’s. Thereafter the conversation spread and the question.…what plant do you associate with schemes of a certain age became the topic of the day!
Do certain plants really identify a planting scheme, can a Cotinus Grace be used as dating evidence like a pottery shard on an archaeological dig? Well no, Cotinus Grace still provides a lovely splash of purple today and we have planted it in several schemes without fear of being branded passé. There is however definitely something to this, I have certainly visited a landscape in need of a refresh without a precast slab or shoulder padded client in site and still with a swoosh declared it so 1980’s!
So plants are probably associated with a time or fashion in the same way that a mini skirt is associated with the 60’s but still finds its way back into fashion and certain high streets on a Saturday night. Some fashions and plants are probably best left in the era they are associated with such as Houttuynia cordata Chameleon and super glue spiked hair – the Bowles & Wyer publicity shot of 1977 should definitely not be repeated…..
A bit of a B&W office poll and the following plants were listed:-
- 1950’s Roses, esp hybrid teas Ena Harkness, Prunus Kanzan, privet, monkey puzzle, fruit trees as Britain started to try and feed its self again after the war
- 1960’s Heathers, dwarf conifers (esp Elwoodii), Mahonia aquifolia, variegated plants in general, ‘Japonica’ (Chaenomeles), pampas grass, bare root roses (in the post)
- 1970’s Rosa rugosa, Berberis candidula, Berberis wilsonae, Mahonia japonica, Vinca major, Lonicera Baggessens Gold, Hedera Goldheart, Hedera hibernica, Juniperus pfitzeriana, rubber plant, dwarf conifers
- 1980’s Photinia Red Robin, Hedera Gloire de Marengo, Hedera Montgomery, Ilex JC Van Thol, Cotinus ‘Grace’, Osmunda regalis, Amelanchier, Camellia, Rhododendron, Houttuynia cordata
- 1990’s Phormium tenax Purpureum/Bronze baby etc., Hedera Pittsburgh, County series groundcover roses (also late 80’s), Clematis armandii, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, purple sage, box – topiary, annual bedding plants, Leylandii, Acers, Bonsai
- Noughties Buxus balls, Astelia ‘Silver Sword’, grasses esp Pennisetum, Stipa tenuissima, Echinaceas, Rudbeckias
What plants do you associate with the different decades? Are you using a plant that is so 1980’s? Answers on a blog comment!
To define garden design, first we have to decide what a garden is. Personally, I love the idea that for something to be considered a garden there has to be a gardener: there is a poetic circularity in the definition. Some would argue that garden design is a branch of landscape design. It is not less of a skill for that, if anything the reverse. There is ‘nowhere to hide’ in garden design. Every element is important and there is no chance of fudging the design.
Glorious weather, a weekend of gardening with blossom on the cherry trees and magnolias in bloom – perfect! Well apart from when I glance at the hose reel and realise my trusted tool and fellow reviver of greenery on the sandiest of soils is about to be confined to the shed, incarcerated, and forbidden by the hosepipe ban from the 5th April. A second glance at my splendid multi jet sprinkler with its variety of sprays has me on my knees howling why, oh why, oh why…..like the most agitated of points of view correspondents.
After a strong coffee, some apologies to the neighbours and a brief discussion with two chaps carrying a fetching white jacket with fancy buckles I gather my thoughts…
Well the why is simple after two dry winters the reservoirs and aquifers are low in the south east forcing seven water authorities Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East to introduce a hose pipe ban. With my fanciful garden sprinkler using around 600 litres an hour I can see the need.
But what to do! ….. In fact this need not be the complete disaster I feared; my garden is established and there are steps to take that will keep my plants alive:-
• The use of a watering can is allowed when filled directly from the tap, use it in the early morning or evening to minimise evaporation and the amount of water needed.
• Install a water butt, this is the UK it will rain so store this precious precipitation.
• If you are planning major works to or around your house consider installing a grey water system which also will help stop that water meter spinning round at an alarming rate – watch this space for a more detailed blog on this.
• Install a drip or leaky pipe irrigation system with a timer set for the night or early morning. The efficiency of these systems has been recognised by all water authorities and is now permitted during hosepipe bans – but only with a timer. I am afraid any irrigation system which puts water into the air with a sprinkler head or micro spray is not allowed even with a timer.
• Apply mulch to the borders to keep the water in the ground.
• Mow the lawn a bit higher and make sure your mower blades are sharp and if the lawn does go brown don’t panic!! As long as it is established it will survive and be green again soon! See www.turfgrass.co.uk for more information.
• Save water in the house too, the water shortage is not just a problem for gardeners!
Drought tolerant plants
It seems clear that this will not be the last hose pipe ban and by selecting plants that are adapted to survive in periods of drought the effects can be minimised. Look for plants that grow or can trace their origins to coastal regions or sunnier climes.
These plants will have leaves that are adapted to minimise the loss of water this can be with narrow leaves, leaves with fine hairs to trap moisture, grey leaves to reflect the sun or with waxy leaves to hold the water in. This of course is not just a case of buying a drought tolerant plant, popping it in and job done. A drought tolerant plant will be as likely to shrivel up and expire as any other until it is established and gets its roots down so as ever preparation is key plant well and use a good compost to retain moisture. Make sure you plant early while the soil conditions are moist and keep the watering can handy.
It is also important to remember the winter – there is little point in planting that lovely Aloe with its waxy leaves or that silver leafed olive in that cold spot in the garden. They may well resist the drought only to be frozen to death in January!
For a comprehensive list of drought tolerant plants see http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/Profile.aspx?pid=397 or Beth Chatto’s ‘The Dry Garden’ is still an essential read.
Some of my favourite drought tolerant plants are Lavendula, Cercis siliquastrum, Arbutus unendo, Rosmarinus, Quercus ilex, Pinus mugo, Vitex agnus-castus, Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii ……. I’d better stop… there are lots to choose from and I will go on and on!
One element of the hose pipe ban that carries uncertainty and has me back in the why oh why mode is that of exclusions. All water authorities state that the ban should not affect commercial activities and yet at this stage the professional landscaper is not universally exempt from the hose pipe ban. This is still the consultation period and the Landscape related professional bodies the SGD, BALI, APL, HTA and TGA are currently lobbying to have an exemption for the use of a hose pipe by the professional on newly planted schemes and newly laid lawns.
The landscape industry is a substantial contributor to the UK economy with for example BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) members employing around 25’000 staff with an annual turnover of £1.5 billion and the HTA (Horticultural Trades Association) estimating growers and plant wholesale/retailers employ 300,000 staff and an annual turnover in the region of £9 billion. These are significant numbers and sums and I hardly need say that in the current economic situation they should not be put at risk.
The exemption should not be an open invitation to splash water around with abandon, indeed all professional bodies offer guidance on how to minimise water use, but a chance to keep trading!
Visit the Society of Garden Designers website http://www.sgd.org.uk/Article/Detail.aspx?ArticleUid=CCA6588A-16BC-44E0-B592-5AADCB70B417 and British Association of Landscape Industries website www.bali.co.uk for news on the lobbying and how to get involved and watch this space for news.
As the weather improves this week, the temperature climbs and we all begin to look outside again. At this time of year, I frequently go into the garden and think ‘what a tip!’ All those odds and ends, badly coiled hoses, un-pruned plants, and scrappy undergrowth – how could I have not noticed it before? It is true that without the kind veil of foliage, gardens can look particularly grim at this time of year. If all this is familiar to you, then cheer yourself up by leafing through magazines and books with their summery pictures of tranquillity that we all associate with gardens. Perhaps it is finally all too much? Maybe it is time to start again? After all if you’re not going to move house you might as well sort the garden out.
But where to start? Most people really struggle when it comes to writing a coherent brief for a designer. As they are unfamiliar with the process of design, or what a designer might propose, they feel intimidated by the whole procedure. If you’re thinking of making changes in your own garden or have a new project, why not start by tagging images that you like, even if they are wildly diverse. This will help to get you thinking in order that you can write a simple brief. Start with a few simple bullet points:
- When you are there: do you look at the garden all day or only evenings/weekends? Is it a second home, perhaps used seasonally?
- Think how you will use the garden: do you entertain? Do you have children, pets?
- Are you a keen gardener? In all honesty, how much time are you likely to spend out there? If you haven’t shown much interest so far, then don’t lumber yourself with a high maintenance scheme with lots of herbaceous plants – leave that to the National Trust! If you are keen, perhaps you might consider an area for vegetables or fruit.
- Instead of using clichéd phrases like ‘year-round colour’ or ‘lots of evergreens’, try instead to think in terms of how the garden will look and feel. Maybe you like things wild and romantic – scrambling roses, long grass with wild flowers, apple trees laden with fruit. Or perhaps you are more controlled – clean swept paving, topiary, clipped hedges, splashes of colour or white flowers kept to occasional containers. If there is a particular style or image that sums it up – cottage garden, Mediterranean, urban chic, or family friendly, then add to your brief.
- Are there any particular features that you want in the garden hot tub, fire pit, water feature, swimming pool?
- If there are any facts that the garden designer might not know at a quick visit – tell them – like: ‘It’s always sunny just here late in the morning’, or ‘I’ve never liked that house next door can we screen it’. Other than that, try not to lead your designer too much – no ‘I’ve always fancied a circular lawn’ or ‘I just thought a raised bed here would be nice’. Let them come up with the ideas – you will be pleasantly surprised!
- Finally – BUDGET! Always a tricky one! In my experience most clients say that they don’t have a budget in mind or that they have no idea. In practice, everybody has some idea and most clients actually do have a budget in mind. It is supremely unhelpful if you don’t share your thoughts on what you want to spend with your designer. You would walk into an estate agent and say you had no idea of budget. In the end, the more detail you can give a designer on cost, the less of everybody’s time is wasted. This is especially important if you have an over-riding cost limit – you only want to spend the £40K granny left you and not a penny more. And do be clear whether you are talking VAT inclusive or excluding VAT.
Presumably, if you have come as far as reading this blog, you are interested in employing a garden designer, either now or in the future. if you want to compare people, do try and start with suitably qualified and professional designers. Of course it goes without saying that B&W are the best, but if you want a comparison, go to the Society of Garden Designers website (www.SGD.org.uk) and look through a few designers in your area.
I am a great believer in starting the design process on a drawing board. For me, there is nothing like a large blunt pencil or a fat marker pen and a blank sheet of white paper. Perhaps it’s just my generation? I don’t think that’s all it is though; As Milton Glaser put it: ‘There’s not enough fuzziness in a computer solution, so you figure it out too early, and what you get is a very well executed ordinary idea.’ I like that.
It’s 6am and my old friend the snooze button (god bless him) can’t rescue me anymore! I shower, change, wake the kids, dress the little zombies, stuff them with a good dose of strangely coloured cereal (fortified with vitamins so they say!), trip over school bags and run around like a Basil Fawlty for 20 minutes before finally ambling out of the door. I can’t be late for my meeting in London I protest, I must catch that train or I am doomed!
After dropping off the kids and racing like ‘The Stig’ to the station I find I have no parking money, and surprise, surprise the only parking spaces are miles from the station office! After more expletives, rushing about and waiting behind the longest person in the world (I mean who buys their season ticket at 7.30am?) I finally get my ticket and place on the London Midland express! This meeting better be worth it!
Much to my dismay the meeting turns out to be a complete time waster and not the ‘important’ one the project manager had built it up to be. Landscape was of course the last item on the agenda with only minor queries, which could have been dealt with all to easily via email or over the telephone. Still, at least there was coffee this time!
The problem with meetings, especially in a large design team environment is other consultants often don’t appreciate how much of our time is wasted when we are asked to attend those that don’t really concern us. Involvement is different for architects, structural engineers and M&E consultants as they usually cover broad areas both internally and externally on projects. As Landscape/garden designers we are generally only concerned with the exterior spaces (with some exceptions). Whilst knowing how much duct work can be run through the ceiling voids is interesting for some, it is not usually our favourite topic of conversation nor does it benefit our work!
This is where the art of meeting selection plays an important part of our armoury as landscape designers. Learning to pick the right meetings to attend and those to avoid is vital if you are to maximise productivity and most importantly profit on a project. Judging the number of meetings you will attend in fee quotes can be an extremely difficult task but a very important one none the less, especially if you hope to recoup fees for additional meetings at later date.
Increasingly on larger projects we try to bottom out with project managers, clients and architects if they really do need us at all the meetings scheduled. By simply asking the question you can end up saving a huge amount of time for both yourself and your clients which can only be a good thing in the long run, not to mention allowing you to get reacquainted again with the faithful Mr Snooze!
This was not as you might think a trip to Bennington Lordships, Anglesey Abbey or one of the other large gardens renowned for stunning swathes of beautiful snowdrops but an open day in a small suburban garden in Leighton Buzzard.
Had I dragged the family along to see a clump of Galanthus nivalis in a neighbours garden nestled between the potting shed and compost bin? Was this a repeat of the later deemed inappropriate father and son trip to the V&A Modernism Exhibition – why would a 5 year old have preferred to have gone to the Natural History Museum I protested. Well this was no ordinary suburban abode but the home of the Owens and their NCPPG national collections of some 900 varieties of snowdrops – we were amidst the Galanthophiles!
I have always been cautious of such plant collectors and their train spotter like behavior, all that ticking names of lists and focusing on one group of plants at the expense of others seems alien to me. However after a short time spent in the garden my fears of having to don an anorak passed ……these Galanthophiles were just passionate plants people!
The garden although not at the cutting edge of design was charming with every corner full of interesting plants and not only snowdrops! Indeed there was a beautiful Prunus Beni-Chidori or flowering Japanese apricot in full bloom, a small tree that we recently planted to mark the birth of a Japanese client’s first child so it was great to see a mature specimen. The Owens were at hand to share their knowledge and passion with cautionary tales of battles with stagonospora, botrysis, narcissus flies and swift moths – which anyone who is going to grow the more delicate hybrids will need to be prepared to stave off. If a question was not being asked of Mr Owen he immediately had a trowel in hand and was on all fours in the borders – a true gardener never wastes a minute of a sunny day!
The snowdrops in the garden were planted in groups; nivalis, elwesii, plicatus and hybrids and the small scale of the garden meant the range in flower sizes, flower shapes, markings and colour could be easily seen and enjoyed – even by a muddied young footballer. And the more you looked the closer to the ground you got and indeed I found myself laying down so I could look up into an interesting double or two.
An enjoyable afternoon ….would I be joining the ever increasing number of Galanthophiles …well with some 2000 named varieties of snowdrops there are plenty to collect although with rarer hybrids now traded on ebay for high sums with a single Galanthus Green Tear bulb recently selling for £360 it could be an expensive hobby. Well it is probably not for me but I may be tempted to try a hybrid or two ……..or is that how it starts!