Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.
We’ve covered a number of environmental issues on the Landscaping Solutions blog over recent months. As a subject matter close to our hearts we try to offer practical support wherever possible.
For instance, we have been corporate sponsors of the Surrey Wildlife Trust for several years now and have just renewed our support for 2018.
Formed in 1959 the trust manages 82 sites in total, covering almost 8000ha. They are the only organisation in Surrey that cares for all forms of wildlife and they are doing some incredible work.
On a daily basis the trust works closely with schools, communities and volunteers across Surrey, informing and involving people actively in nature. Over 15,000 children and young people now benefit annually from a wide variety of outdoor learning courses and activities thanks to the work Surrey Wildlife Trust carries out.
Surrey is host to some wonderful habitats and the Wildlife Trusts works closely with partners and landowners to advise on land management for conservation, with particular emphasis on woodland, wetlands and heathland. In addition, the trust also regularly runs campaigns in an effort to save precious habitats and vulnerable species.
Unfortunately in the current political climate of government cuts and lack of funding, many of the habitats and species in question are coming under constant pressure from a variety of threats.
This lack of funding can make the difference between a species thriving or becoming locally extinct (one recent example would be the Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterfly which is now extinct in Surrey due to woods becoming overgrown) and for that reason it is more crucial then ever that we support these bodies in the work they do.
Landscaping Solutions company director Ben West has been a member of the Wildlife Trusts since he was a young boy. Initially a member of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Ben quickly became a member of the Surrey Wildlife Trust when he moved to the area around 15 years ago.
“Through the years I started to develop a growing awareness of the threats to our native wildlife and landscapes through habitat destruction, pollution and poor land management. I understood the crucial part the wildlife trusts play and started to volunteer with them and other bodies to help manage their reserves”.
A great deal of the work carried out by the Wildlife Trusts and trusts like them is volunteer led and it’s this ongoing support that allows them to continue their vital work.
Along with the Wildlife Trusts Landscaping Solutions also support the RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, Wessex Chalk Streams and Rivers Trust, Bumblebee Conservation and the Denmark Farm Conservation Centre.
Whether its corporate sponsorship, personal membership or looking after the wildlife on your patch, by supporting conservation bodies, together we can make a difference!
Further information regarding the Surrey Wildlife Trust and their work can be found at surreywildlifetrust.org
Closed since 2013 for extensive restorations, the Grade I listed building and largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world is set to reopen its doors on 5 May, as the 5 year long and £41m restoration project nears completion.
Originally built in the 1860’s, Temperate House at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in south-west London, is still laid out according to the original design of its architect, Decimus Burton. Covering 4,880 square metres it houses an impressive collection of international, rare and almost extinct plants from places such as the the Mediterranean, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
When it first opened its doors to the public in 1863 crowds flocked for the chance to see plants and exotic environments, that previously could only have been read about. Although a huge success with the public the ambitious project unfortunately ran well over its original budget and wasn’t actually completed for another 40 years.
In a desperate attempt to control the spiralling budget cost cutting measures were implemented, some of which involved cheaper building materials and questionable construction methods. Unfortunately this meant that over a century later the condition of the structure had become a major issue.
To ensure its conservation, the major overhaul of Temperate House began back in 2013. For the restoration work to be carried out over 500 plants were potted up and moved to other nurseries within the gardens. Plants deemed too large and fragile to be moved were left in situ, with provisions made to box them in for protection.
Once all the plants were either moved or protected, restoration work could begin. Over the past 5 years every single glass panel has been replaced, decorative ironwork restored and rotten timber repaired. In addition to the restoration and repair work the entire heating system was also replaced with a more environmentally friendly and energy efficient system.
The restoration project has been a massive undertaking and with the grand reopening looming ever closer, teams of gardeners are now busy with the delicate task of replanting the vast number of plants in to their new beds. In fact, it is estimated that a staggering 10,000 plants (new and old) will eventually have been planted in time for the reopening.
We will certainly be paying the new Temperate House a visit once it reopens in May and if you would like to do so yourself, further information regarding the reopening can be found at kew.org.
Over the years its fair to say some Christmas traditions have certainly dwindled in their popularity (we’re looking at you - yule log) but as festive customs go, none have fared better than the humble Christmas tree.
An enduring symbol of Christmas, people have been bringing trees in to their homes at Christmas time for centuries, that much is certain. A little less certain however is how it all began.
Whilst a small handful of European cities argue over laying claim to the first documented use of the modern Christmas tree, most agree the tradition originated somewhere in central Europe, most likely early modern Germany, some time in the 1500s.
A picture from Germany in 1521 portrays a man on horse back dressed as a bishop (a possible reference to St. Nicholas), parading a tree through the streets. The first person attributed with bringing a Christmas tree into the home however was the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther.
In the early days the tree itself would have been decorated with handmade paper roses, apples, wafers and sweetmeats. It wasn’t until much later, the 18th century in fact, that trees began to be illuminated by candles. These of course were eventually replaced by Christmas lights with the arrival of electricity.
Some of the earliest Christmas Trees to arrive in the UK came sometime in the early 1800s. Queen Charlotte the German wife of George III is said to have set up the first known English Christmas tree at The Queen's Lodge, Windsor in December 1800.
It wasn’t until 1841 though that the tree gained real popularity, when Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert had a Christmas Tree set up in Windsor Castle. As a result the Christmas Tree very quickly become popular in the UK and USA and firmly sealed its place in British and American homes.
Traditionally an evergreen fir tree, Over time the Christmas trees in the UK have taken the form of a number of varieties, the Norway spruce the Nordmann fir, the Noble fir and the Blue spruce to name a few.
In certain parts of the world though it is not uncommon to find other species filling the role. In New Zealand for example they have the Metrosideros excelsa (dubbed the New Zealand Christmas tree), a coastal evergreen tree that produces a brilliant display of red flowers made up of a mass of stamens. It has been associated with Christmas since the mid 1800s and features heavily on a number of Christmas cards.
If all this talk of Christmas trees has sent you in to a needle-shedding panic, it might be worth visiting the British Christmas Tree Growers Association’s website for tips and advice on keeping your tree alive over the Christmas period.
We will of course be back in the New Year with more interesting and informative blog posts, covering a range of topics from landscape gardening and design through to industry trends, nature and the environment.
Until then though, from all the team at Landscaping Solutions, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
A number of recent studies conducted by researchers and health practitioners have concluded that daily contact with nature has a positive and long lasting affect on our mood. The simple act of gardening itself provides substantial human health benefits and not just for your physical health but your mental health too. In short, gardening is good for you.
Studies carried out across the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East all looked at the effects of daily contact with nature and its long lasting benefits on our health.
The research showed a wide range of positive health outcomes, such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and weight loss.
Many of us live in a society full of daily stresses. Difficult commutes, long working hours, daily obligations and workplace pressures all form part of our daily routines. Add to this high-fat diets, environmental pollutants and increased levels of social and psychological stress and it quickly becomes easy to lose touch with nature altogether.
As a result, conditions such as heart disease, depression, diabetes, and obesity have become a major public health issue. It is estimated that worldwide, approximately 415 million people currently suffer from diabetes and somewhere in the region of 350 million people suffer from some form of depression. Sadly this trend shows no sign of slowing.
As part of the various studies, a number of volunteers who had been diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood, or bipolar disorder were asked to spend six hours a week planting. After three months, over half of the volunteers had experienced a measurable improvement in their symptoms of depression with others showing lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
As the research has shown reversing the adverse effects of losing touch with nature is possible. The sensory experience of gardening offers the opportunity to quickly and easily reconnect with nature. First and foremost gardening gets you outdoors, while simple tasks like digging, planting and weeding offer excellent forms of low-impact exercise. The plants themselves improve your local environment, trapping toxins and filtering harmful pollutants, in turn improving not just your health and wellbeing but those around you too.
The beauty of it is you don't need a big garden to start reaping the benefits either. A small garden or courtyard is more than sufficient and even something as simple as gardening containers is a great way to start out. With the right approach even the simplest gardening experience can help make a difference.
As subject matter close to our hearts, we’ve covered a number of environmental issues over the past months. If you have found this article interesting you may also enjoy some of our previous articles - Battling Urban Air Pollution: The Humble Hedge, Pocket Parks and Bees In Crisis.