gill moore photography

Tag Archive for 'green'

Late summer nature show, beautiful colour and lines on my dill ….

Just couldn’t resist taking a shot of my doorstep herb plant which is gearing up to spread its seeds soon. It’s been shouting out at me to take a shot of it as it gets more beautiful by the day. So with today’s sunshine I finally got my act together. Something to remind of me of summer during the dark winter days ahead.

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Spring Snowdrops @ Rode Hall Gardens, Cheshire …

Just as the green fields here are being invaded by crocus and daffodils, I thought I would post up some shots I took a few weeks ago featuring two of the earliest British native spring flowers.  Can you believe it is the start of summertime next weekend and nature is certainly doing its best to cajole us all into life.

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The shot above is actually a snowflake (I think?)  from my very limited knowledge I believe it is unusual to see it facing upwards.

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The extensive National Trust gardens at Rode Hall, near Congleton, are famous for their spectacular displays of the delicate snowdrop.  The sight of the bobbing white bell-shaped flowers heralds the end of Winter and the beginning of some warmth.  The shot above is a section from a wonderful swathe of snowdrops in a sheltered spot quite close to the main house, these plants were right at the peak of their powers a few weeks back.  On close inspection you can start to discover the subtle differences which signal the different varieties.

The names are fantastic, sounding more like racehorses than flowers including “Lady Beatrix Stanley”, “Merlin” “Primrose Warburg” and “Mighty Atom”.  The study of snowdrops seems to attract those with a competitve nature, followers are called ‘galanthophiles‘ (taken from the flower’s Latin name) and some collectors think nothing of spending £150 for a rare bulb.

If you fancy a trip out to see one of the lesser-known Cheshire Gardens it’s well worth it and after strolling the grounds, be sure to leave time for the wonderful pairing of a pot of tea and homemade scone, jam and cream before you head home.  You know you want too!

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Patrick Blanc to be featured on a Gardeners World Special this week ….

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from the BBC website:

Last year Joe Swift described how back gardens are being sold for development, reducing the amount of green space that oxygenates our cities and soothes our troubled souls. But instead of beating his chest and saying how terrible this is, he heads off to discover how to grow gardens where land is scare. In France, he visits the Parisian botanist Patrick Blanc’s famous hanging gardens, which use an ingenious irrigation system to grow plants on vertical walls. In the UK, he meets one man who has cultivated a jungle on his balcony, and another who has a garden of succulents growing on the dashboard of his van. He also meets Nigel Dunnett from Sheffield University, who is an expert on green roofs – a way of turning the humble house roof into a demi-paradise; an industry that is booming.

This Special Gardeners World show will be broadcast this coming Friday, March 20th 2009 on BBC Two @ 8pm, definitely one not to miss!

For more information on Patrick Blanc and his amazing work with Vertical Gardens read my post from last year here.

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What is ‘ecofont’ and where to recycle old printer ink cartridges? …

ecofont

Many of us try and avoid having to print things out onto paper nowadays.   However, sometimes the need for a hard copy is impossible to ignore.  I stumbled across Ecofont the other day over at Manchester-based blogger Lucy Danger’s “3R’s Recycling” site and it sounds like an interesting idea.

Ecofont is a newly created print font which you can download for free onto your PC or Mac.  It has a crisp modern feel but because of the holes within each letter it aims to use 20% less ink than any other font.  Next time I need to do a printout I shall give it a go and report back.  You can download the font and read a little more about it on the ecofont website.

Continuing in the recycling vein, I recently had to replace a whole load of ink cartridges on my printer and spent some time researching the best place to recycle them.  It used to be difficult getting anywhere to accept Epson cartridges for recycling but it seem they are trying to improve their green credentials and now offer a free recycling box for companies which can be requested through their website.   For individuals it is possible to log onto their website and request a freepost bag or use their freepost address with your own envelope.

I had HP and Canon cartridges and used greenertomorrow.org.uk; very simple just visit the website, request a freepost envelope and pop your old ink carts inside and post back.

The greenest option, if you live in a town or city, might be to drop off used cartridges at your local charity shop.  Most of them offer this facility and the charity can sometimes get a small financial reward in the process.

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How does a rather excellent real ale and the UK’s largest sedum roof go together?

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I recently saw a very large and impressive sedum roof at the Wildfowl and Wetlands site at Martin Mere, Lancashire. It got me wondering who can lay claim to having the largest sedum roof in the UK?

I felt sure it would be housed somewhere like the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth (Wales) or maybe one of the large regenerative building schemes undertaken over the last few years for eco-friendly social housing or public buildings?

I did find a few nice examples of sedum and regular green roof schemes:

Certainly quite a number of educational buildings such as St. Martins-in-the-field Girls’ School, London roof and one at Cambridge University plus many new build schools across the country.

The well-known Eden Project has a small green roof, the most picturesque I could find was the Gallie Craig Coffee Shop, Drummore, Scotland. Wow, I SO want a hot beverage there now! :-)

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Sometimes the choice to create a green roof was by necessity, such as the restaurant within St. James Park, London; any design for the new roof there had to blend in with the surrounding parkland or it would not gain planning permission.

An award-winning illustration on my doorstep here in Manchester is the Norman Foster designed scheme called Budenberg HAUS which has 4,500 square metres of green roof sited on the edge of Altrincham overlooking the Bridgewater Canal.

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The largest UK green roof (not wholly sedum) is at the Rolls Royce factory near Chichester which has a huge roof space measured at 40,000 square metres.

Eventually after a fascinating journey delving into various schemes I found a winner … and a real-ale brewery at that! Any real-ale fans will have heard of Champion Beer Brewers Adnams who are based on the Suffolk Coast in Southwold. In 2005 beer sales were up and faced with this growing demand they realised that a new distribution centre was required.

Adnams website lists their environmental goals “We aim to manage our impact positively on the social, natural, and built environment” and on this newbuild project they certainly went for it, not only creating the UK’s biggest sedum living roof but also building the Centre predominently from bricks formed using locally-grown hemp, lime and chalk.

These building materials certainly earn green brownie points (sorry I couldn’t resist!) but they also add effective functionality. Acting rather like a cellar, it maintains a steady 11 degrees celsius temperature within the warehouse, and means there is no need for expensive air-conditioning units. Heating for the offices is provided by solar panels. Though the initial build for the scheme was higher than a conventional approach, is has meant running costs are nearly half what they were at the Brewers smaller previous warehouse. So in the long term it will result in a considerable cost saving.
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The roof itself is predominently sedum. These low maintenance, fleshy, thick skinned succulents have excellent insulation properties and also help filter out air pollutants. The plants are low maintenance and usually require no artificial irrigation, they absorb sound (useful in an urban environment) and can provide a habitat for birds and wildlife. The Adnams planting scheme also included regional wildflowers and wild grasses to supplement the sedum and to blend more naturally with local flora.

However, Adnams may soon be knocked off the top of their green perch. Work is ongoing on a scheme in Hemel Hempstead for a new Indoor Ski Centre. The sedum roof here will be a jaw-dropping 21,500 square metres and is set to open in the summer of 2009.

I have rather skirted over the pioneering use of the hemp and lime bricks on this project, but that is only because I am planning a longer post on this Stone Age plant and it’s modern applications in the very near future.

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Vertical Gardens

I am intrigued by the work created by Patrick Blanc a french botanist and artist. We know all too well the huge need for green spaces especially in urban environments, he has a fantastic solution – Vertical Gardens www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com
Patrick Blanc Garden, Paris, France

He is based in Paris, certainly a city with many beautiful squares and buildings, but it is a geographical area with little room for expansion. There is very little opportunity for the creation of new open spaces or parks when demand for housing is so huge. However, where there is a blank building wall he sees an opportunity. He fixes a solid frame onto the wall and, by allowing water to trickle down, it provides soil-free habitats for various plants which in turn can provide a home for all manner of lifeforms from birds to frogs. The Garden can be inside or out and plant species are chosen to suit the climatic conditions.

Mr Blanc began his botanical experiments in his own home and now he works on commissions all over the world with projects ongoing in China, Spain and his native France. His first UK commissions are Leamouth Peninsula a docklands regeneration scheme ongoing in 2008 and the Pacha Club, Kings Cross, London. Due to the density of the growth there is no need for weeding, so over time they develop from a two dimensional design to a 3D living work of art and each project is protected by copyright. He has a book “The Vertical Garden: In Nature and the City”
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Postcript to this article.  Click here for latest news on the Pacha Club, London commission.
UPDATE.  In the UK there is a Gardeners World Special featuring an interview with Patrick Blanc and discussion of his work.  Date for broadcast is 8pm on Friday 20th March 2009.  I’ve done a quick update post here.
UPDATE.  Short feature and images @ Wired.com regarding PB’s recent vertical garden at the Athenaeum, London.  24 August 2009