biodiversity

Time to change how we live – and garden

Today for the first time ever, the UK recorded temperatures in excess of 40°C. Parts of Wennington, a village in East London were consumed by fire. If ever there was a moment to wake up and change how we live, it is now. If we don’t we are individually and collectively committing, in the words

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Biomembranes for living buildings

NOTE: This article was first written in 2006, so some aspects have been updated to reflect current realities. Biomembranes is a term I’m borrowing from biology (the structure bounding a cell) to describe the outer skin of future self-sustaining buildings. I have stated elsewhere that I believe that for the built environment – and therefore

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Biological filtration of ponds

The maintenance of ponds is the one thing that people seem to be the most uncertain about – it seems shrouded in myth and confusion. Some of this is basic ignorance of simple biological structures but this is enhanced, in my view, by the profession’s over-mechanised solutions to obtaining clear water. There is also a

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The future of gardens in an age of climate change

This article was first published in 2007 and has been updated 2018. Future gardens will be an integral part of a living bio-system that is part house, part garden, an energy conserving and production environment.  It will also be a resource for water retention and cleansing, food production area, biomass and environmental haven. Above all,

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Naturalized exotic plants in arid climates

A problem, or an opportunity for a new landscape paradigm? I was recently working on a tree project in Abu Dhabi when I came across a derelict site which intrigued me with it’s range of exotic self-seeded, non-native plants.  The site was next to the Corniche and sandwiched between the Formal Park, my hotel and

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Pruning hazels for regenerative growth

In my previous post I talked about a regenerative planting methodology for urban landscapes, in which I suggested you would manage, rather than maintain your planting areas. So how exactly do you you do this? Both involve work and the difference is a subtle but important one, in both attitude and application. Think urban forester

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Natural regeneration for urban landscapes

Almost all urban landscapes are contrived and designed, due to their artificial nature and short timescales of development and use.  We see increasing use of mature rootballed trees and extensive hard landscape and this is normal for intense inner urban areas; I do get concerned that the increasing complexity of urban planting systems divorce trees particularly

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Maintenance of Green Walls

We are now a decade into the explosion of living or green walls.  There have been many successes and some notable failures along the way, some of of which may be system-induced and some caused by inadequate or inappropriate maintenance regimes. Assuming we now have systems that work at least reasonably well, what is required by

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Living Walls

There is something incredibly exciting about living walls.  Stacking green plants on the vertical plane on buildings, where you’d think they just should not be, goes against the odds.  Yet nowadays they are almost commonplace, and most people have encountered one somewhere.  They cling to life with extraordinary tenacity, usually in a growing medium only

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Why Gardens must Save our Wildlife

I was chatting to the local farm manager the other day, out on the snow-lined track.  “There’s nothing in the hedgerows for the birds” he told me.  It made me glad that there was in my garden, which borders the track and fields.  It also brought home such a startling truth:  the birds need us

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