sustainability

Creating non-irrigated climate-adapted landscapes in the Middle East

In part one of this four-part series, I discussed the colonization of brownfield sites in the UAE’s cities with a range of trees and shrubs – almost all of them “exotic invasive” species.  I argued that these could be forming the basis of new, adapted ecologies.  To revise those arguments, please the link at the

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Brownfield site natural regeneration in the UAE

This is the first of a four-part article, links to the others are at the end. These articles are all a part of the same thought progress, which has been brewing for some time and started with an article I wrote two years ago, in March 2018.  I think this is an important subject, and

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Gravel Gardening

Gravel gardens have been around a long time yet with a few well-known exceptions (Denmans, Beth Chatto and more recently, Olivier Filippi), never really make it into the mainstream of garden design. I suspect that for some designers, there is insufficient structure to satisfy, yet that is actually one of the main benefits. This makes

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Planting Design in the Middle-East

The other side of work I undertake in the Middle-East region (other than tree consultancy) is planting design, for creating new landscapes always brings me a special joy.  When they are in public spaces, I love the chance it gives to interact (albeit remotely) with many people in place, over time and hopefully, enhance their

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Concrete and alternatives

Concrete is a wonderfully versatile material, which has been in use since Roman times and with it we can build amazing structures that would otherwise be impossible. Unfortunately it also carries a huge environmental cost, caused mostly in the cement binding used. Whilst gravel extraction is also an issue, for that there are some alternatives

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The beauty of resilient planting design

The emergence of the idea of resilient planting is a response to a number of different pressures which all have one underlying cause – climate change. Whatever the cause – and I’ll get on to that later – I see it as the most exciting change to the way we design our gardens and landscapes.

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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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Formative tree care in the UAE

On my most recent trip to Dubai, I enjoyed walking through some of the new landscapes that emerge as projects are completed.  The UAE, along with most regions of the Middle-east has a rather limited palette of plants to work with (although that is growing as new plants are tried). What struck me, however, was how poor the quality

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The (near) future of urban landscapes

The way in which we design, create, maintain and use urban landscapes is likely to change radically in the next 15 years (in fact, modern society is in for overwhelming change).  Urbanisation, climate change and the rapid rise of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) will see to that. Don’t think that the rate of change

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