Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A green future for our cities

A dazzling array of speakers at London Parks & Gardens Trust's 20th Anniversary Symposium, 'London's Green Future', left us with no doubt about the importance of keeping London as one of the greenest cities in the world.

A quick glimpse at the Trust's website shows an inventory of over 2,600 green spaces in the capital. http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk They will be even more essential when, as Peter Massini (Urban Greening Team Leader for Greater London Authority) predicts, London has a population of 11 million - a prospect that is a mere 20 to 30 years away.

copyright Liz Ware
Paul Lincoln from the Landscape Institute introduced us to the idea of 'liveable' cities.  Well-designed greenspace is, he says, 'a refuge and an asset'.  It's important that property developers understand that taking landscape into consideration increases saleability.

James Hitchmough, Professor of Horticultural Ecology at the University of Sheffield is working to find a balance between human cultural needs and enhanced biodiversity.  He encouraged us to be flexible in our city planting and not to get caught in the trap of thinking that only native is good.

Dusty Gedge, the Green Roof Campaigner and Designer, talked us through the benefits of green roofs. Cooling in summer and insulating in winter, they have plenty to offer an environmentally aware city. http://greenroofconsultancy.com

Tom Armour is working on Joanna Lumley's idea for London's Garden Bridge - 'the slowest way to cross the river'.  An exciting project, not least because the importance of getting the soil right for the plants has taken precedence over the structure of the bridge itself. http://www.gardenbridgetrust.org/index.html

It doesn't matter how forward thinking we are in our urban greening, without a constant stream of well-trained horticulturalists, creating and maintaining greenspace will be impossible. Leigh Morris, President of the Institute of Horticulture summed up the success of the Grow Careers initiative. Two years on, Careers Officers are realising that horticulture has something to offer everyone, whatever their level of intellect. http://www.growcareers.info

If your brain is in need of stimulation this weekend, and in the most beautiful of gardens, head to Petworth House for the 2nd Garden Museum Literary Festival.  A peaceful weekend beckons, where the only difficult decision will be deciding which of the extraordinary collection of speakers to hear. http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/a-friend-a-book-and-a-garden-a-festival-of-garden-literature-21-and-22-june-at-petworth-house

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