Crawling with great ideas: The 'future garden' festival focuses on conservation and insect-friendly innovation
Sunday 21 June 2009
"When I was a kid, growing up in wartime London," says David Bellamy, "there were butterflies everywhere." Clouds of African butterflies have been back in Britain this May, reminding us of what we have lost. Several million Painted Ladies dropped in from Morocco for a summer stint in our green and pleasant gardens, providing a tantalising glimpse of the riches of the past.
Yet it might be a glimpse of the future, too. Bellamy is in St Albans for the opening of Future Gardens, the first stage in a project called Butterfly World. Bellamy introduces Clive Farrell, the conservationist behind the scheme, who hopes to build a 200m dome on the site, full of Mayan ruins, tropical butterflies and rainforest, to open next year.
While the dome is under construction, Farrell is hosting a three-year garden festival exploring the funkier end of the show-garden world. With no sponsors or their interfering agendas, and a budget coming from the festival itself, the designers can give free rein to their imagination. Twelve plans were picked from hundreds of entries, the gardeners receiving £25,000 each to create something special. The first 12 will be open until 4 October, and in this conservation-focused setting, lots are looking at making the garden a greener place to be.
Native flower plantings and chestnut-shell mulch are just two of the insect-friendly ideas on offer. But for me, one of the biggest problems in the greener garden is the creation of boundaries. It's a conundrum that a number of designers here are tackling. In Jane Hudson and Erik de Maeijer's "Nest", a woven willow wall was created by professional weaver Peter Dibble. Working from his Norfolk headquarters, he used coppiced branches from the nearby Rothamsted Institute, famous for its willow collection. Unlike the cheap woven fence panels sold widely, Dibble's doubled structure is substantial and blocks out any prying eyes, giving the sense of nested security the designers were seeking.
Nearby, two recent graduates of Falmouth's increasingly prestigious garden-design course, Maren Hallenga and Hugo Bugg, have bisected the whole space with a glorious log wall, rusty mild steel circles making porthole views through it. The effect is delicious, both to my eye and hopefully to a whole range of invertebrates that'll make their home in the wall over time. Birch trees create dappled sunshine, ponds full of old cutlery shimmer in the summer light, and bees buzz, settling in already. As a vision of a greener future, it's very tempting.
For more details: www.futuregardens.org
Get the Look: Boundaries for all budgets
A doubled bespoke woven-willow wall from Peter Dibble costs from £130 per metre (07855 288 770). Hallenga & Bugg timber log wall with steel viewing holes, price on application ( www.hblandscapedesign.com)
Do it yourself
Weave your own willow features with Ellen Musgrove at Musgrove Willows, from £45 for a day's course. A single bag of chopped logs piled into an elegant pyramid will provide a home for insects, and shelter and food for frogs and toads (£5.99, any petrol station)
Greenpeace comes to the aid of Britain's small fishing vessels
Backbench rebellion threat sees fracking regulations toughened
Frilled shark: Australian fishermen capture terrifying shark from the deep
2014 the hottest year since records began, climate experts confirm
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Narendra Modi: Indian Prime Minister wears suit with pinstripes that spell his name to meet Barack Obama
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
30,000 reasons why the rhetoric on immigrants claiming benefits can stop now
£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...
£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...
£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...