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Exam commentary - from Level 3 Garden Planning
by Janet Prescott - Tuesday, 11 December 2018, 9:29 AM

R3112 February ‘18,  Question 8.

a)      State TWO ways by which gravel can make a contribution to the design of a garden. [2 marks]

b)     Recommend TWO NAMED plants suitable for a gravel garden, giving reasons for your choice. [8 marks]       


This question relates to the following parts of the syllabus:


1.2 Describe a range of materials suitable for these hard landscape features to meet aesthetic, functional and sustainable design requirements.

Materials to include:  brick, stone, gravels, concrete, wood, bark, rubber, plastics, glass, fibre glass, metals, tarmac. 

Description of significant characteristics to include: 

- Aesthetic requirements:  colour, contrast, unity, harmony, texture; 

- Functional: soft/hard, non-slip, hard wearing, life- span, maintenance requirements, safe (e.g. free of splinters, safety glass); 

- Consider factors such as environmental sustainability, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), locally sourced, recycled, carbon footprint, reclaimed


2.3 Select plants suitable for rock and water features.

Describe FIVE NAMED plants suitable for EACH of the following:

- permanently wet areas e.g. bog garden and marginal; 

- ponds: to include deep water aquatics, oxygenators, floaters; 

- scree/gravel gardens and rock gardens. 

Significant characteristics of plants to include: height, spread, form, decorative merits and season of interest


The examiners’ comments state that this question was answered well.  For part a) acceptable answers included contributions of gravel as a hard landscape material as well as a planting/display medium for alpines and drought tolerant plants. This would be a good approach for an answer, giving two very different ways.

For part b) full botanical names are needed for two suitable plants. It is important to look at the marks allocated to know that quite a bit of detail is needed for the reasons. The examiners’ comments state that ‘Stronger candidates made clear links between the conditions their chosen plants prefer and how these are provided by a gravel garden, rather than only descriptive points about the plant’. 

A suitable answer for one plant example is suggested as follows:

Sedum acre ‘Aureum’, which is suitable for a gravel garden as it has succulent drought resistant foliage, all year interest, and yellow flowers which are attractive to bees’.