Urban Greening

Week 43 – Urban greening

I think the latest living wall we’ve installed (as part of a new office development in Old Street, London) looks great. Some might say I would say that as I designed them. But I’m not biased, I’m passionate. Be it one of my living walls, a green roof, a community garden or any other type of urban greening, it’s not just about it looking great. Urban greening is important for many reasons.

Urban greening refers to public landscaping and urban forestry projects that create mutually beneficial relationships between city dwellers and their environments.

The Mayor of London and the London Assembly wants to significantly increase the area of green cover in the built environment. The London Environment Strategy includes policies and proposals that aim to ensure that more than half of London will be green by 2050 and the city’s tree canopy cover increases by 10%.

London is a growing city. By 2050 it is expect that up to 3 million more people will live there. A well planned and managed green infrastructure network will be vital to help the city stay healthy and liveable as the population becomes larger. It will also help the city adapt as the climate changes and we experience hotter, dryer summers and more extreme downpours.

The Mayor’s new London Plan includes policies that protect the city’s best green spaces and natural areas. However, the pressures on land for the good quality homes, schools, hospitals and places of work which we need, means there will be few opportunities to create more traditional parks and nature reserves as the city grows. London must therefore become greener whilst also becoming denser. To meet this challenge new developments will need to include more green roofs, walls and other urban greening. Existing buildings, streets and public realm will need to become greener too.

Green roofs and walls are an essential component of a greener, denser city especially in those areas which have historically had a deficiency in parks and green spaces. They can help store stormwater, provide additional wildlife habitat, or, increasingly, create greener public realm or roof gardens above our busy streets.

My hope is that the living walls we are installing right now will contribute to the wellbeing of future tenants for many years to come. My dream is that we get the chance to install many more living walls in cities across the UK.

Pretty as a picture (or three)

Week 41 – Pretty as a picture (or three)

This week I visited a project we installed in Highgate earlier this year to run some maintenance. The scheme involves five living walls, sat amongst slatted timber work, that act to transform the front garden. My personal favourite are the set of three small living walls that run along the southern boundary of the space and are framed like a set of large living paintings. Watching them sway in the gentle breeze on a sunny autumn day is a thing of joy. I am not so keen on the aesthetics of the Tesla charger but anything that is good for the planet is fine my me.

Will

Kenway Nurseries

Week 31 – Kenway Nurseries

When creating our living walls we use a huge number of plants. Hundreds, turn into thousands quite easily. One supplier that deserves a mention is Jason Kenway. The plants I get from his nursery, Kenway Nurseries are always excellent. The effort that must go into producing such large quantities of plants whilst maintaining such a high standard is impressive. Their plants now account for around 75% of the stock we use in our living walls and I think they look great. In this section of living wall, you can see another fabulous Persicaria (P. microcephaly ‘Purple Fantasy’) fighting it’s way through a mass of soleirolia soleirolii, along with Acorus gramineus ‘Variegates’ and a handful of Viola odorata ‘Königin Charlotte’ and some wonderful (still yet to flower) Dierama pulcherrimum.

Persicaria campanulata ‘Madame Jigard’

Week 30 – Persicaria campanulata ‘Madame Jigard’

Persicaria are commonly known as knotweeds. Personally, I think the weed part of it’s common name is a bit unfortunate as they are far from being weeds. I love almost all varieties of Persicaria and most are readily available but P. campanula ‘Madame Jigard’ is not an easy plant to find let alone buy. It’s rarely offered for sale, which I suspect is likely to change quite quickly as it’s a fantastic form of this genus. Native to the Himalayas, it’s a semi-evergreen perennial with a distinctive reddish-bronze, centre vein in the leaves. It’s stems remind me of gnarly fingers, with multiple knuckles and joints along it’s length. Once it gets a foothold, it seems to grow fairly quickly, putting out leaves at a fairly decent pace. Apparently it flowers all summer, but this is my first season working with this beauty, so I have yet to witness how long it actually flowers for here in sunny Devon. So far it’s performed brilliantly, loving the moist surroundings of our living walls or in this case one of my new living spheres. This particular Persicaria has just shot straight to the top of my go-to plants list.

The professionals

Week 29 – The professionals

Working with professionals that really know what they’re doing is always a pleasure. John Davies is an excellent garden designer and The Garden Builders have executed his designs perfectly. We’ve created a number of living walls for John over the last few years and think that this is probably one of our best. Thanks to the excellent planning and an easy working relationship with both John and The Garden Builders this job was delivered on time and without issue. We are delighted with how the wall looks and know for a fact that the client is too! Please follow this link to see lots more images of this fabulous garden.

Around we go…

Week 28 – Around we go…

Ideas are all around us. Personally I find they dance around inside my head and drift across my subconscious mind like clouds. Often, like a dream, they fade when I wake, but sometimes they stick and solidify in my minds eye. Then I can feel the idea growing.

For years I’ve been pondering how to create a living surface that’s not 2D and flat but 3D, with depth and possibly movement. Time and again it was a ball, globe or sphere like shape I seemed to gravitate towards. Now, I know how to create living walls, but a living sphere, that’s a bit harder. Then one day a few months ago, I literally work up from a dream and bingo… my subconscious mind had worked it out for me.

So, over the last few months I’ve been working in my new nursery developing my idea, and this is the result. My living sphere. This is no short term hanging basket for the summer months, this is botanical ball of perennial plants that, just like my living walls will develop and grow over years and last for decades if maintained correctly.

Like my hydroponic living walls they will be automatically watered (and so fed) keeping maintenance to a minimum and like my living walls they will hopefully delight, entertain and facinate all those that enjoy the beauty of the botanical world. I’m delighted with the result and I hope some of you out there will like them as much as I do.

The spheres will come in several sizes, S, M, L, XL (and possibly an XXL for those with commercial size spaces). Please email us to register your interest in ordering one of our original living spheres.

mailto:info@thelandscapearchitect.net

London tour part 2

Week 25 – London tour part 2

On our tour of London last week I was delighted to see how well our living walls are doing, so much so, I wanted to share another image. This time it’s a wall we installed this time last summer in Belsize Park.

Plant hunting

Week 22 – Plant hunting

An essential part of what makes any garden or living wall interesting is the plant selection. Finding and testing out new plants is an exciting, fascinating and important job. I love discovering a new nursery and nothing can quite beat the tingle of excitement brought about by the anticipation of stumbling upon a new plant. I’m relatively fresh to the world of plant hunting, so I’m constantly ‘stumbling’ across lots of plants that I am unfamiliar with… or to be more honest, have simply never heard of before. Shame on me. However, plants are not something to be scared of or worried about using. They are to be picked up, paid for and whisked home to gaze upon for several minutes, hours or indeed days, before inserting into a new planting scheme. The pleasure of watching a new plant working it’s magic amongst other beauties is simply one of the great joys of my life. I am always happy when I’m planting. That’s why I constantly have mud under my finger nails.

Acer Palmatum “Beni Tsukasa”

Week 18 – Acer Palmatum “Beni Tsukasa”

I know spring brings lots of beautiful blossom to our streets and gardens but for me there are plenty of trees that don’t really bloom and are just as good. The colours of this Acer Palmatum “Beni Tsukasa” are almost autumnal but yet the tree still carries that same springtime sense of new life and optimism for the summer ahead. The blue sky helps a bit too.

Will

An olive tree. Well nearly.

Week 17 – An olive tree. Well nearly.

Outside of gardens, living walls, trees and plants, one of my favourite things is enjoying a well earned martini. Perhaps there is some similarity. After all there are endless varieties of martini to enjoy, all with their own unique colours, aromas and flavours. They’re all different and they’re all great. Some of them even come with an olive which brings me back to thinking about gardens…

Will