THE LANDSCAPING SOLUTIONS BLOG


Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.

TEMPERATE HOUSE AT KEW GARDENS SET TO REOPEN

temperate-house-at-kew-gardens

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.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE

Christmas Tree

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.

THAMES PROMENADE ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Thames Promenade

In August, last year, we wrote a short piece covering the ambitious Garden Bridge project, a proposed pedestrian bridge with landscaped gardens that will span the River Thames in central London.

Well it seems the idea has caught on but with considerably less controversy. Award winning, London based architects One-world design have recently released images of their proposed garden walkway, a project that will see the complete transformation of an otherwise unused section of a Grade II-listed Victorian railway bridge (Barnes Bridge) that spans the Thames between Barnes and Chiswick.

The One-world design team have been working closely with local residents on plans for this stunning promenade that would create a green link between the two neighbourhoods.

Designed by civil engineer, Joseph Locke, in the 19th Century the bridge itself is a central, two-track, railway bridge. It has a pedestrian and cycle crossing to the east and a separate and disused railway bridge to the west that shares the river piers.

The current proposed scheme seeks to take the crossing and transform it into a walkway that has been designed to attract wildlife and promote biodiversity – something many of our towns and cities currently lack.

To further enhance the view from the bridge, the existing riverside metal clad upstand would be removed and replaced with a glass balustrade. This would also have the added effect of making the bridge appear less prominent from the riverbank. LED lighting in the floor, balustrade and bollards would serve to illuminate the bridge with plans to have the light react to movement and change colour as desired.

The proposed planting scheme would see the use of trees and shrubs in areas immediately above the river piers (for structural reasons), as well as the creation of a living wall to prevent trespassers from gaining access to an adjoining section of live track.

Under the watchful eye of the Barnes Community Association (BCA) the planting of the trees and shrubbery would be carried out by a local group of residents lead by Peter Banks, who originally approached the BCA with the idea of transforming the bridge into a garden walkway. The proposal will also see the same group of residents responsible for maintaining the planting once the bridge is complete.

In a recent statement the BCA confirmed they have already secured support for the project from the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and Hounslow councils, in addition to receiving an ‘in principle’ agreement from Network Rail.

With these integral agreements in place a full costing of the project can now been drawn up allowing the BCA to make applications to the Mayor of London and the National Lottery for funding.

As you would expect with a project of this nature there appears to be no shortage of public support, with the repurposing of an existing structure proving to be an appealing concept for many. By taking this unused railway bridge and transforming it into something beautiful, residents have something stunning to wake up to and visit every day and in a world that needs more green, it certainly seems like a step in the right direction.

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