With an eye toward sustainable solutions, Nigel Dunnett, Adrian Hallam and Chris Arrowsmith presented an atypical garden at Chelsea last year… one that is both educational and creative in it’s approach. The “Future Nature” garden looks to a future for landscapes and gardens in a changing and unpredictable climate. This garden presents a number of practical solutions that can be used to create a new type of drought-resistant urban garden especially suited to underutilized city spaces. Its central message is, that by using a combination of any of the garden’s features coupled with careful plant selection, anybody, using simple planting methods and avoiding irrigation except with stored rainwater, can create a colorful and naturalistic garden. It aims to both help alleviate pressure on the urban drainage infrastructure in wet weather and maximize the use of water during increasingly dry summer months.
The central idea to this garden is water.... In the northern hemisphere, due to the rotation of the earth about its polar axis water flows down holes n a clockwise direction. Check the sink or toilet, next time you go to the loo!! Henceforth this landscape design is expressed in a spiral, clockwise direction.
Green roof - The colorful flowering green roof acts like a sponge, absorbing half of all the rainfall that falls on it, reducing the rate of stormwater run-off after heavy rainfall. A mixture of sedums are chosen to withstand the harsh exposed conditions found on rooftops and provide a rich source of nectar for visiting insects on what would otherwise be a sterile and lifeless surface. Well known are the benefits of green roofs - in addition to stormwater retentions and providing wildlife habitats, they also provide social benefits, improve air quality, modify urban micro-climates, provide insulation against heat and sound within the building and increase the life expectancy of the roof, and in some municipalities provide property tax credits and assist toward leed certification.
Together with the stormwater planter this series of small pools collect any excess rainwater that leaves the green roof. The water passes thru a series of what is represented as small pools through upright growing aquatic plants that help to clean and purify the water before it spills into the rill (small channel). The rill is designed to be attractive when not filled with water.
The line of the green roof flows in a spiral round o the pools and then via the rill to the central pool and vertical garden tower.The spiral is found in many cultures as a symbol of life and eternity.... a fitting form for a garden that aims to prolong the life of plants and addresses the pathway to a sustainable future by managing water, the source of life.
Key features of the garden include: a green roof to help reduce surface water runoff as well as enhancing biodiversity; storm water planters and pools to retain water from the roof; a living tower holding drought-resistant plants; butterfly mounds and insect towers stocked with colorful but drought-resistant planting that provide wildlife habitats in a brownfield environment.
Vertical Garden Tower - Full of intricate detail, composed of stacked and reclaimed materials.
Space for plant material, insects and other wildlife to find shelter and homes.
Unlike many “living walls” this also encompasses which require large amounts of water, this vertical garden is not dependent upon continuous irrigation.
Wild Flower Meadow - a designed and stylized version of the cosmopolitan mix of native and non-native plants that colonize urban wasteland sites and can be hotspots for the wildlife that grazes on the native species.
Stormwater Basins - Excess rainwater that leaves the green roof either falls directly into the stormwater planter, which absorbs further waste or drains into the collecting pools. The planting will tolerate being inundated with water, but will also withstand long periods of drier conditions. Stormwater basins can be used where rains lack the capacity to deal with all the run-offs from private property.
Like many gardens at Chelsea this garden was relocated to Yorkshire after the show and through its use continues to promote the inventive use of small urban spaces and water management.