Being able to dedicate time to research is essential for sensitive design, and Rootstock was established so that a greater amount of time could be dedicated to research than is possible for most consultancies. We carry out extensive research into every site we work with, the materials we work with and the people and fauna we design for, whether it’s experimenting with a method for laying paving, investigating habitat structures or data visualisations of site use. This process of experimentation encourages us to think creatively and as part of this we regularly undertake field trips, enter competitions and work in workshops to refine concepts and develop proposals.
Harry is a keen gardener, and used his garden in the Yorkshire Wolds to trial gardening techniques and plants that we might use professionally. The garden was a challenging spot: north-facing, exposed to northerly and eastern winds whipping across large fields and with thin soils on free-draining chalk. Experiments included ‘no mow’ patches (as popularised by Dr Trevor Dines and Plantlife), where he created small litter meadows to monitor plant species that appeared throughout the year. In a planting bed, he developed a sustainable seed-bed of arable annuals, herbaceous perennials, vegetables and selected shrubs to create year-round interest and habitats.
Harry also organises field trips to look at specific areas of interest: recent trips have included the town planning and architecture of the Hansa, the botany and geology of the quarries of North Yorkshire and the Essex marshes and soil testing in Gaillac and Fronton.