THE LANDSCAPING SOLUTIONS BLOG


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

DOLPHIN SQUARE AND ITS LISTED GRADE II GARDENS UNDER THREAT

Save Dolphin Square

If you follow us on social media you may have noticed some of our recent posts regarding the iconic Dolphin Square and its Grade II listed gardens.

Built between 1935 and 1937, Dolphin Square is located by the River Thames in London's Pimlico.

As one of the largest and most famous apartment blocks in London, Dolphin Square has had somewhat of a colourful past and has been home to princesses, politicians, spies and actors throughout its 80 year history.

A Conservation Area in its own right, the beautiful and tranquil landscaped gardens were originally designed by Richard Suddell and have just recently been listed Grade II by Historic England.

The site itself has changed hands various times over the years but was most recently acquired by US based property company Westbrook Partners in 2005. Unfortunately, Westbrook have recently put forward a planning application proposing a £400 million revamp of the entire site.

If approved, the plans would see the northern block of Dolphin Square completely demolished. A 10-storey building would then be erected in its place, with an additional floor being added to all the remaining blocks.

Two huge basement areas would then be excavated to allow for an underground swimming pool and sports facilities and the famous art-deco shopping parade would also be demolished as part of the proposed works.

If Westminster Council were to approve the planning work on the five year redevelopment could potentially start as soon as 2020.

The northern half of the listed gardens would be completely lost forever as a result of redevelopment and at the very least, the character and fabric of Dolphin Square would be destroyed.

Westbrook Partners claim to have invested approximately £40 million into the upkeep of Dolphin Square and have stated that the proposed works are a necessary solution to the ongoing repair costs.

The scope of work however is quite clearly an expansion and not a refurbishment and when you take in to account the fact that Westbrook has declined to divulge how many of the new homes would be set aside for affordable housing (a council requirement) it is clear the motive behind the revamp is based purely on profit.

For further information regarding Dolphin Square or to sign the on-line petition to save it please visit the Save Dolphin Square petition page at change.org

RHS AWARDED £4M NATIONAL LOTTERY GRANT

RHS Garden Wisley

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.

RISE OF THE ECO GARDENER

Eco Gardener

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.

​BATTERY POWERED GARDEN TOOLS

Battery Powered Garden Tools

With springtime well and truly upon us, many Brits are already enjoying our gardens and open spaces. Maintaining lawns, hedges and borders can be a therapeutic pastime to some and an unwelcome chore to others, but having the right tool can make the difference.

For domestic and professional gardeners, the solution for large-scale garden maintenance has typically been to invest in garden machinery. The powerful petrol engines on these machines would enable the user to get much more work done than manual cutting tools, but they do have their disadvantages. Factors that some users find troublesome include levels of noise and emissions, plus the cost of fuel.

Recent developments in battery technology have reached a point where battery powered garden tools are comparable in performance and price to their fuelled counterparts. Chainsaws, trimmers and blowers powered by battery are quieter and cleaner than petrol models.

Early battery-powered garden gadgets would be let down by long charging times and short operating times. For professional users this would mean too much downtime leading to a loss of earnings unless they invested in spare batteries and chargers. The power delivered by these batteries would also be significantly less than a traditional engine, so it just wouldn’t be worth using for most applications.

In contrast, today’s lithium-ion technology delivers power and efficiency with quick charging and long life. With less moving parts than motor-driven machines, a battery-powered device also offers lower levels of vibration. This further enhances user comfort.

Another battery-powered innovation in recent years has been the robotic lawn mower. Far from being a showy gimmick, these highly efficient machines cut to a very high quality and virtually eliminate the need for man power. Husqvarna’s Automower range can cover lawns of all sizes, and once the machine has been set up, it can operate autonomously and return itself to base for charging.

The City of Edinburgh Council recently trialled Automowers in a cemetery, a school and public park, and noted the remarkable standards of quality and efficiency. With such a small storage footprint and low operating costs, the robotic mowers ticked all the boxes. Rather than rendering members of staff redundant it enabled them to focus on other areas of maintenance, thus improving productivity and saving the council time and money.

Robotic mowers are increasingly being perceived as viable alternatives to riders and pedestrian mowers because of their versatility, efficiency and connectivity. Mapping out the area of operation is done by installing the boundary and guide wires, and some Husqvarna models also have GPS connectivity via their Automower Connect app.

The latest development for Husqvarna Automowers is integration with Amazon Alexa. From September, the 315X, 430X and 450X models of Automower will be able to be controlled using a command in Alexa, giving you even more control over your mowing.

So the landscape of battery powered garden gadgets has moved quickly in recent years, and it might mean the end for fuel-driven machines. Whilst vehicles and construction equipment are still relying on petrol and diesel to be able to compete on value and performance, the market for battery powered garden tools is already taking shape.

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