Let’s make brownfield gardens part of urban landscapes

Jun 4, 2018

The brownfield gardens at Hilldrop are a key element of the Festival of Urban Landscapes to be held in July 2018.

brownfield gardens and green roofs at Urban Landscape Festival

View of brownfield gardens from the original green roof

The venue, of course, is the home of GRT. Designing landscapes for people and wildlife is key to John Little’s (co-author of the online guide) work. John’s garden has  a plethora of green roofs. Furthermore, at ground level there are now good examples of how to garden for brownfields.

Hildrop and the three flamingos in the brownfield garden

Hildrop and the three flamingos in the brownfield garden

From green roofs to brownfield gardens – leading the way in landscape design

Whilst the idea of designing green roofs for biodiversity is a major part of this online guide,  John has taken these principles from roofs to the ground. There is a challenge, however, at ground level. Part of the approach John has taken is to manage ‘the limitations of client expectations’. In effect this means managing the apparent conflict between the look and the wildlife value of brownfields.  Such habitats can look scruffy. They therefore could look  out of place in a garden. Yet, John’s creations show that it is possible to create gardens that have both the aesthetic function whilst also providing the ecological function.  And because Open-mosaic habitats (brownfields) are very important habitats for a range of rare species such gardens could be very important for wildlife.  By creating beautiful gardens that appeal to the eye, John has created havens for wildlife that can also be appreciated by people. Yet such gardens are currently few and far between in cities and towns around the country.

The key elements of such brownfield gardens are relatively simple –  varied topography and  low nutrient soils . And in doing so these gardens are relatively maintenance free.

As are the green roofs around the garden.

John, though, does like to do a little weeding from time to time! Even on some of his green roofs but especially around the flamingos that grace the pond!

Little Little doing some brownfield garden weeding

John weeding in the brownfield garden

A weekend of learning and sharing knowledge of Urban Landscapes for People and Wildlife

Whilst John and his garden are key to the Festival of Urban Landscape 2018, the weekend features a range of other speakers and workshop leaders. Co-author of this site, Dusty Gedge will be talking the green roof talk. International speakers not only include Ed Snodgrass, a major influence on the development of green roofs in the USA but also Laura Gatti of Bosco Verticale renown. Ed has not only constructed a range of green roofs on his property in Maryland but also a series of rain gardens. Laura is now working on further projects, like the Bosco, around the world.

Other speakers included Gary Grant (urban green infrastructure), Sara Venn (community activism) and garden designers Wendy Allen and Arit Anderson (BBC Gardeners World presenter).