As we near the end of January 2014 in Cumbria we’re still experiencing mild but wet weather. These winter months can be a quiet time for landscape gardeners.
That’s largely do with the wet weather of course, but there are other important factors to take into consideration. A typical scenario goes something like this: While you’ll have often heard it said that winter is a good time for garden planning and preparation, as you stand looking out of your window watching the rain pour it’s understandable that a new fence, pruning your wisteria and your fruit trees, planting your rhubarb and ventilating your glasshouse are not high on your list of priorities.
Landscape gardening is a year-round job, one of the challenges contractors face, though, is getting that message across, and sensitively – most people have more important things on their minds. Up and down the country we’ve experienced such high levels of rainfall people have real concerns about flooding. Concerning climate change, what’s happening up there in the high fells of Cumbria has an impact on what happens down here in countless hamlets, villages, towns and our border city, Carlisle. When we’ve extremely wet or dry weather, the knock-on effects are far-reaching, eroding our collective psyche as well as the foundations of our iconic stone walls and buildings. We all have to adapt in this world we have made, speaking of which, the book The World We Made is easy-to-read and, by the way, uplifting. This from BBC Gardening (it’s well worth reading the full article if you’ve time, the different points of view are interesting, and the section ‘What You Can Do’ is helpful.)
• Almost a quarter of all front gardens in NE England have been completely paved over. It’s estimated that London has lost the equivalent to 5,200 football pitches by householders paving over their front gardens.
• Paving, tarmac and concrete increase the amount of rainwater than runs off by as much as 50 per cent, leading to flooding.
• Most concrete paving, also marketed as ‘Reconstituted Stone’, uses Portland cement to bind the aggregates and sand. Cement production is one of the most energy intensive manufacturing processes in the world. The process also gives off a cocktail of air pollutants such as dust, dioxins and hydrocarbon compounds.
• The UK produces about 12 million tons of cement per year.
• The production of concrete in the UK is responsible for 2.6 per cent of carbon emissions, compared with 28 per cent from transport (excluding international aviation and shipping).
Landscape gardeners have a role to play here, if afforded the opportunity, and this includes keeping up to date with planning regulations, knowing what’s fact and what’s fiction and, above all, encouraging or introducing our customers to sustainable gardening which must allow for, say, permeable paving and alternatives to paving. This is the way forward. For more information: Guidance on the permeable surfacing of front gardens.