Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) announced recently that they have secured a £4 million grant from the National Lottery. The grant money will allow the RHS to construct the world’s first National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, as well as develop three new gardens covering 1.2 hectares and restore their current laboratory.
Set to open in 2020, the proposed centre will be constructed at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey and will feature state-of-the-art research facilities, as well as showcase over one million nationally important science and heritage items for public viewing.
Items such as the Chilean potato plant brought back by Charles Darwin in 1834 (from which our modern potatoes are derived) and lavender collected in France in 1731 are just some of the items that will eventually be showcased.
More than 86,000 herbarium specimens, 24,000 insect specimens, 30,000 pieces of botanical art, 250,000 photographs and 100,000 books charting more than half a millennium of gardening history, will also be moved to the new centre when it opens.
The development of 1.2 hectares surrounding the centre will also see the creation of three new gardens - the Wildlife Garden, the World Food Garden and the Wellbeing Garden. Designed by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning garden designers and RHS scientists the gardens themselves will act as living laboratories for the centre.
The third and final stage of the development will see the iconic RHS Garden Wisley’s Grade II-listed laboratory restored and opened to the public in 2021.
RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, said: “For more than a century RHS scientists have been working away behind closed doors in our modest laboratory conducting ground-breaking research that impacts us all.
During this time, we have researched the best plants to soak up air pollution, to cool buildings and to help pollinators, and these new facilities will enable us to enter a new era of discovery.
Over the next five years, thanks to National Lottery players, we will reveal incredible horticultural treasures to the public so people can experience the wonders of gardening and see why we need everyone everywhere to garden and grow plants for the good of people, plants and the planet”.
The National Lottery grant is undoubtedly a great boost for the development of such an ambitious project and the funding will obviously enable RHS Garden Wisley’s to get the project off the ground. However a further £2 million does still need to be raised in order to see the project through to completion, ensuring RHS Garden Wisley’s buildings, gardens and collections are protected for future generations.
If you would like to support this project or other RHS initiatives then please visit the RHS website for further information.
An unfortunate side affect of living a modern lifestyle is losing touch with nature. As we further develop our towns and cities, slowly swallowing up fields, parks and woodland the gradual loss of our natural surroundings is becoming ever more apparent.
Thankfully, as a nation we are becoming more environmentally aware everyday and attitudes are beginning to shift. As the effects of climate change begin to touch our everyday lives, there has been a rise of eco-conscious gardeners wanting to get back to nature and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
With this change in attitudes, people are developing a greater awareness of the environment as well as becoming more considerate of garden wildlife. Recent figures released by Wyevale Garden Centres showed that 67% of people surveyed considered themselves to be eco-conscious when it came to their approach to gardening. City dwellers in particular are setting a good example when it comes to cutting back on waste and encouraging wildlife.
The same survey also revealed that more than three quarters of gardeners try to avoid using chemicals in their gardens, with 46% opting for organic fertilisers as an alternative.
The negative impact our current food system has on the environment is also becoming clear to the eco-conscious gardeners of today. For this reason, growing your own food and in particular, watching what you eat, is becoming increasingly important to many.
People want to know where their food is grown and are aware that by adopting an organic approach to growing they can dramatically reduce their food’s carbon footprint.
As a result, the grow your own movement has been gaining traction and has quickly become a key focus for the eco-conscious gardener. In fact, a recent report from The Soil Association revealed the UK organic market alone is now worth £2.2 billion.
For those starting out in eco-gardening, knowing were to start can sometimes be a daunting prospect. The trick is to start small with something simple; using recycled pots, encouraging birds and wildlife in to your garden or installing a water-butt can quickly set you on the path to becoming an eco-gardener.
If growing your own food tickles your fancy then starting with items that are relatively easy to grow is also a good way of beginning your eco-gardening journey. A perfect starting point for example would be growing tomatoes. Tomatoes require minimal effort but can still yield satisfying and tasty results.
While all this may seem like relatively small steps at first, if all of us began thinking about changes we could make in our own gardens and implementing those changes we could make a difference. Not only to our own surroundings but to the environment too.
Traditionally, most people see gardening as dominated by the older generation. The digital age however, has seen a new younger generation of gardeners emerge. These gardeners are learning from an entirely untraditional source; the internet and social media.
Social media and the internet are key players when it comes to kick starting trends, with sites like Instagram, Pintrest, Twitter and YouTube offering us inspiration at our finger tips. As a result, a huge network of young horticulturists are using these social media platforms to share the latest gardening tips and tricks or simply to find inspiration.
According to a survey commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society, 89 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds said they had either a garden or an allotment and grew their own plants and vegetables.
Growing your own food and watching what you eat is a popular trend at the moment, most notably amongst young professionals. Organic food is on the rise and people are more aware than ever that growing your own fruit and vegetables can dramatically reduce our food’s carbon footprint.
In short, attitudes are changing rapidly with many under 35’s now heavily engaged in a range of gardening activities. The last few years have also seen a sharp increase in the number of 16 to 18 year olds wanting to enroll on horticultural courses at college.
The stereotype that gardening can only be enjoyed by the older generation is quickly disappearing and one such person helping to dispel that stereotype is 19 year old YouTuber Huw Richards.
Huw’s YouTube channel HuwsNursery currently has over 20 million views with upwards of 80 thousand subscribers, making it the most successful gardening vlog in the UK.
As a result of his YouTube successes Huw has also appeared on numerous TV gardening programmes and secured a number of sponsorship deals with prominent landscape and gardening related companies.
Another young British YouTuber, 22 year old Jack Shilley features similar content on his Youtube channel. One of his most successful videos entitled “planting raspberries in containers” has racked up more than 95,000 views.
When you look at statistics like this it’s clear the younger generation are getting into gardening in a big way and thankfully there are a growing number of initiatives designed to encourage and nurture this surge of interest.
BALI are a prime example of this, their hugely successful GoLandscape initiative (of which Landscaping Solutions company director Ben West is an ambassador) aims to bring more young people in to the landscaping industry by promoting and developing real life careers.
In addition The Royal Horticultural Society also run several groups and award schemes all aimed at the younger generation.
Increasingly a number of schools and colleges across the UK are also creating gardening spaces and clubs within their grounds, in an effort to embrace the enthusiasm of this new generation of gardeners.
This spring will finally see the introduction of a nationwide plant pot recycling scheme. Launched by the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA) in partnership with renewable energy specialist Ecogen, the scheme will provide the infrastructure for garden centres nationwide to recycle pots and other various plastic plant carrying trays.
Garden centres across the country have found it increasingly difficult to find recyclers for their used plastic pots, with some big chain garden centres stopping their pot recycling services all together.
Cheap to produce and convenient for their purpose, the plastic plant pot is unfortunately the gardener's equivalent to the shopper's plastic carrier bag.
With approximately 500 million pots used each year in the UK alone, just like it’s carrier bag counter part, the plastic plant pot has become a huge waste issue. Aside from cluttering our garden sheds, the majority of plastic plant pots are sent directly to landfill, adding to the 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste already in existence.
Our oceans are becoming heavily littered with plastic which is killing all manner of sea creatures, fish and birds. Only last week new evidence emerged suggesting that much of our bottled water is also contaminated with microplastics.
With headlines like these every week, campaigns such as the plant pot recycling scheme are more important then ever.
Thankfully in last weeks Spring Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond outlined the Government's plans to cut the use of single-use plastics vowing to tackle the “threat to our oceans”.
In his statement the Chancellor called for a consultation, to examine the potential for a charge on numerous plastic items such as takeaway boxes, plastic plates and polystyrene packaging, building on the success of the recent plastic carrier bag charge.
A proposed nine-week consultation will look carefully at the entire supply chain for single-use plastics and examine ways to deliver renewable alternatives or improve recycling opportunities.
Hammond has also set aside £20 million for an innovation fund that will aim to help businesses and universities discover new solutions for tackling plastic waste.
Whilst none of these government proposals are necessarily the answer to what is clearly a huge global issue, they are undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Moving forward, we all need to do our bit to find the best solution, including the landscaping and gardening industry. Now, thanks to HTA plant pot recycling scheme, we are that little bit closer.