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Garden Organic member survey shows improvements to Ryton Gardens a lower priority than other activities

The newly published Annual Report and Accounts from Garden Organic updates on the sale process of its Ryton Gardens headquarters.

Chief executive James Campbell said of the proposal, which has attracted opposition from some members: “Last year was also a time for reflection, and a serious look at how we can continue our work all across the country. As demand for our outreach work has strengthened visitor numbers to our organic demonstration garden at our headquarters at Ryton have fallen.

“This is partly due to the success of Garden Organic in spreading its message far and wide, and people no longer need to travel long distances to obtain information on organic gardening.”

A 2017 survey of Garden Organic’s membership, held before the announcement that the garden was for sale, showed nearly one third of members wanted the charity to focus on increasing activities in their areas and over a quarter said more advice and support on organic growing tailored to where they lived was their priority. Only 9% suggested improvements to Ryton Gardens. Some 28% wanted more advice on organic growing, 32% wanted more activity in their local area, 15% wanted more access to partner organic gardens and 6% wanted more special offers. Other ideas were 8%.

The survey, of about 400 people, and one from 2016, helped inform future Garden Organic policy.

Campbell added: “This research together with the decline in visitor numbers and the increasing financial burden of running our 22 acre site has led our trustees to explore a range of options for the site to release much needed funding to increase the work we are able to do locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. This process remains ongoing and no decision has yet been made on plans for the site.”

The report states that in 2017, there were 3,000 visitors to the gardens on weekdays (41% down on weekday visits in 2016 and “following the trend of falling visitor numbers in recent years”). Weekend visitors receive free entry “due to the costs associated with manning the shop and entrance area but are encouraged to make a donation. These weekday figures include just under 500 visits from Garden Organic members, accounting for less than 3% of the total membership base.”

Garden Organic’s trading arm Organic Enterprises made £92,000 profit in the year to 31 December 2017, up from £75,000. Total funds generated through donations, membership, legacies, trading and charitable activities in 2017 were £2.16m (2016-£2.6m), with £2.21m expenditure (2016-£2.46m). Net assets are £801,000 (£852,000).

The report states: “We finished 2017 with an unrestricted deficit of £61,237 (2016 – surplus of £195,319) before actuarial movements on the defined benefit pension scheme. Despite being a deficit, this result was better than we had budgeted for, due to closely managing our costs and also due to our receiving additional legacy income that we had not expected.

“The charity has a variety of funding sources, which offers some resilience against economic instability. In particular, our membership give us unrestricted income which we are able to spend across our charitable activities, whilst also funding some of the charity’s support costs. However, fundraising within the charitable sector is becoming increasingly difficult and this has caused a significant fall in our income since last year. Our net current assets position has remained healthy, ending the year at £243,996 (2016 – £312,422) as we continue to manage our assets and liabilities.”

Save Ryton Gardens campaigner and ex-staff member Michael Walker said: “No-one knows the feeling of members or the sale’s effect, because the questions Do you support the sale of Ryton Organic Gardens or not?’ and ‘Would its sale affect your membership?’ have never been asked directly.”

He said Garden Organic is in a difficult financial position, with income down 16% last year, so he understands the need to look at the long-term future of the organisation. But he added: “I believe the most significant financial risk facing the organisation would be the reduction in membership income arising from the sale of Ryton Organic Gardens.”

Campbell added: “It’s been a busy year for Garden Organic. Our outreach work was a major source of pride for us as we look to spread our message to more communities than ever before. We were particularly pleased to continue to deliver our organic social and therapeutic horticulture projects for adults with learning disabilities, young carers and disadvantaged young people.”

Work included  food poverty projects in London where they help people to supplement their diets with home-grown organic vegetables, to composting education work in Cumbria, tackling the challenges of sustainably managing household waste in a rural setting.

Over the last year Garden Organic and more than 535 registered volunteers have been supporting Master Composter and Master Gardener projects in 15 geographical areas around the UK.

The charity has been encouraging people to grow more organically and sustainably and have delivered 48 organic horticultural training events across the country, including their first training course at Dumfries House in Scotland.

In London, Garden Organic is leading a partnership (Food Growing Schools: London) with an aim of getting every London school involved in food growing. This involves attending assemblies, networking events, London Food Borough meetings and school marketplace events. Monthly newsletters offerteachers support with funding and free resources as well as support with growing.

Garden Organic also helped raise awareness among members and the general public about the issues surrounding the EU relicensing of gyphosate. The license was renewed for five years rather than the 15 years proposed.

Garden Organic members participate in running horticultural experiments. In 2017 a dahlias survey found that dahlias continued to attract bees into October when many other plants had finished flowering. 

The charity shared 158 different varieties from its Heritage Seed Library with members through its annual seed list, including 19 new varieties not shared before. In total the library protects 780 different varieties of heritage seeds.

Meanwhile Garden Organic continues to work with its volunteer Master Composters, Master Gardeners, Growing Buddies and Food Buddies to support individuals, community gardens, schools and horticultural therapy projects at grassroots level across the country. With helps from its members and local organic groups, its vision is to take organic growing directly into the back gardens and allotments of people throughout the UK.

Members of Garden Organic will have a chance to hear more about the charities work and vision for the future at its forthcoming AGM on May 18. The sale of Ryton is also on the agenda.

This post was written by: HortWeek

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Hyde Park’s trees “worth £173m” in benefits

Based on the i-Tree and CAVAT valuation systems, the study found that each year, the trees of the world-famous park

  • remove 2.71 tonnes of pollution,
  • store 3,872 tonnes of carbon,
  • sequester 88 tonnes of carbon, and
  • intercept 3,584 cubic metres of rainfall.

Royal Parks tree manager Ian Rodger said: “This report places an amenity value of £52,378 each on some of our plane trees. I have come to believe in the practice of putting a monetary value on trees and this proves they are worth every penny.”

The report’s principal author, Treeconomics manager Kenton Rogers, added: “Identifying the benefits trees provide and quantifying those benefits in monetary terms reinforces how important trees are to society as living assets which increase in value with age and size.”

Treeconomics will make its full report available when published, and copies can be requested from

Not counting the adjacent Kensington Gardens, the 142-hectare park contains over 4,000 trees from 104 species and 45 genera. It attracts nearly 13 million visitors a year.

This post was written by: HortWeek

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Plantswoman extraordinaire – Beth Chatto

This week we’re celebrating the renowned plants-woman, Beth Chatto, who sadly died this week at the age of 94.

We’ve featured Beth’s wonderful garden near Colchester in Essex several times on the SGD blog. Her inspirational planting style (which won her 10 gold medals at the presitigious Chelsea Flower Show in London) is loved and admired the world over.

The Key to Successful Planting

Beth was known for her no nonsense approach to gardening. She instilled in to me the ‘right plant, right place’ mindset early on in my career.

Beth Chatto’s famous gravel garden

Her garden near Colchester had many different soil conditions to contend with, from dry to boggy and even woodland. It enabled her to grow a tremendous range of plants.

Beth’s books have helped people all over the world tackle gardens with difficult soil conditions.

Beth had a great eye for shape and form, something I think she gained from her years of flower arranging.

She was always able to put plants together in stunning combinations that looked good all year round.

Beth Chatto’s Garden Highlights

Here’s a video I recorded last summer when touring her main garden. The second video shows the gravel garden that they purposely didn’t water as an experiment…

Beth’s gravel garden can be seen at 7mins into 2nd video (episode 24 of the Successful Garden Design Show).

Six Decades of Success

You can read the official obituary on the Beth Chatto website. The garden and tea rooms are still open to the public so why not pay them a visit at this wonderful time of year?



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New park at heart of plan for London’s Canada Water, with network of public green and blue space

British Land has submitted an ambitious outline planning application for the 21 hectare area in south east London and has signed a Master Development Agreement with Southwark Council.

The planning application follows four years of development and consultation and covers up to 3,000 new homes, two million sq ft of workspace and one million sq ft of retail, leisure, entertainment and community space including proposed health and social and educational facilities. The plans take out the 1980s mall-style shopping centre and replace it with a network of streets and public squares.

A masterplan by Allies and Morrison seeks to better root the district within its surroundings and the natural ecology and features new connections to Southwark Park from the west and Russia Dock Woodland in the east, and to the River Thames through a series of open spaces, cycle paths and walkable routes.

“Water will become a definitive amenity and community gardens and play spaces will contribute to the wellbeing of both residents and visitors. Biodiversity corridors will help species to flourish and allow for travel between parks in the wider area,” Allies and Morrison said. 

Townshend Landscape Architect is part of the masterplanning team and has based its public realm design on bringing residents and visitors “closer to each other and nature”, with an emphasis on health, well-being and play. It has designed a series of “animated spaces” in the public realm which draws in nature and ecology with the vision “to create a public realm that brings together a network of carefully considered, locally distinct public squares, parks and streets, each with a clear character, use and identity.”

British Land is also in talks to with London Wildlife Trust to develop a plan for the dock, which could include reedbeds and wildlife habitats

Head of Canada Water Development, British Land Roger Madelin said the regeneration would create “an exciting place to live, work and visit, delivering high quality design, active spaces and significant economic and social benefits for the local community.”

He added: “We will put health and wellbeing at the heart of our plans to ensure the buildings and spaces we create encourage and support healthy lives.”

The comprises Surrey Quays Shopping and Leisure, the SE16 Printworks, the Dock Offices and the former Rotherhithe Police Station. A decision on the planning application is expected by the end of the year, and work could start in the spring of 2019 if it gets the all clear. Final completion is currently estimated to be in 2033.

This post was written by: HortWeek

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Bodrhyddan Hall to launch the third North Wales Festival of Gardens

Bodrhyddan Hall has been the seat of the Langford family for 500 years and its gardens include an extensive pleasance, waterfall and lily pond, and ornamental flower bed designed by William Eden Nesfield during the Victorian era.

There is also a Woodland Walk which was reclaimed in the early 2000s.

The festival, launched in 2016 and organised by North Wales Tourism, saw 23 gardens participate last year and nearly 54,000 people visit over 16 days.  They spent an average of £38 each – a total of more than £2m.

North Wales Tourism chairman Claire Britton, said the impact of the festival could not be underestimated.

She added: “After just two years it has already proved its worth as way of encouraging visitors to our region, and support is getting stronger all the time.

“We’re especially delighted that this year the official opening, on June 2, will be in the breathtaking setting of Bodrhyddan Hall, Rhuddlan.

Nurseries, stately homes, private gardens, tourist attractions and garden centres are all poised to offer a combined line up of more than 100 events across the region.

Click here to see the full list of gardens taking part.

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Planning bodies produce practical guide to tackling climate change through planning

The charity and professional body created the guide to solve a discrepancy between policy ambition and useful advice. They said that while the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) contains ambitious policies on climate change on-the-ground delivery remains slow, largely because of a lack of practical advice and support to local councils on how to secure a radical reduction in carbon emissions.

They also criticised Government guidance as “weak on adapting to climate change, particularly in relation to addressing issues such as heat waves and sea-level rises”.

The new guide, ‘Planning for Climate Change – a Guide for Local Authorities’,  to be launched  by Caroline Lucas MP, provides an overview of policy and legislation which can be used to address climate change at a local level. 

TCPA director of policy, Hugh Ellis, said: “Climate change is remaking our society and the impacts will be severe and lasting. The opportunities for action could also be transformational in harnessing new energy and engineering technologies to make our communities safe over the long term.   

“A resilient and sustainable future is achievable, but only if we act now. This guide sends a powerful message to councils and planners that we can meet the climate challenge.”

RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills said the guidelines will be a valuable resource which “should prompt more concerted actions on this vital issue”.

“Planners have a leading role in joining up the dots, from housing and transport to flood risk mitigation and energy, to ensure communities benefit from a holistic approach to tackling climate change,” she said.

Today’s guidelines will be a valuable resource and should prompt more concerted actions on this vital issue.’

BRE, Floodline Developments and EPICURO also worked on the guidelines.

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Cally Gardens to re-open under new ownership

Hughes is a nurseryman based at Heale House in Wiltshire.

The Castle Douglas garden went up for sale for £275,000 in January 2018 after the owner’s death.

Since 1987, Cally Gardens was developed as a specialist nursery by the late Michael Wickenden, the renowned plantsman and plant hunter, who died aged 61 in Burma in 2016.

The gardens contain his collection of more than 3,000 perennials, many of them grown from seed collected from his plant hunting expeditions around the world. Unsold potted plant stock, tractor and other nursery equipment are available at valuation. Vendor is JHS Law.

Cally’s Facebook page said: “Kevin has some great plans and ideas for the garden, vinery and woodlands, building on Michael’s legacy and continuing to specialise in rare and unusual plants, so we are all looking forward to the next chapter in Cally Gardens story.”

Meanwhile, the late John Brookes‘ garden Denmans in West Sussex is to re-open in June following renovations.

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Anti-pesticide councillors elected to London boroughs

Almost 400 candidates across the major parties signed up to the Pesticides Action Network (PAN) UK pledge ahead of Thursday’s local elections. All councillors elected to Richmond and Lambeth councils signed up, as did winners in half of the capital’s 32 boroughs. However, the number of supporters is still small compared to the 1,828 borough councillors elected overall.

The campaign follows the lead of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, which has already phased out the use of pesticides for weed control. Rather than glyphosate or other such herbicide, it uses Weedingtech’s Foamstream product consisting of hot water and vegetable oil.

PAN is hosting a meeting on 29 June to drive the campaign forward, with French politician Joël Labbé set to speak. He was the driving force behind legislation that banned the use of pesticides for the maintenance of green spaces, forests, pavements and roads, other than for safety reasons, in France last year.

“Already, across Europe there are sustainable, cost effective alternatives to pesticides being used in towns and cities. We want to replicate this across all 32 London boroughs and the rest of the UK”, PAN policy officer Nick Mole told ENDS.

In a presentation given at a meeting in London on Tuesday, he said that hundreds of tonnes of toxic pesticides are used in UK towns every year, the most common ones being the herbicides glyphosate and 2,4-D, both of which are subject to contentious claims of carcinogenicity. Pesticide run-off also contaminates water supplies, he noted.

Beyond London, numerous other councils have adopted PAN’s pledge, including Brighton and Hove, Lewes and South Shropshire. In addition, glyphosate has been banned by Glastonbury Town Council and Cornwall County Council is adopting a pollinator strategy that includes stopping the use of pesticides.

Outside the UK, more than 1,000 cities and villages in France have rejected the municipal use of pesticides, in the run-up to a national ban on non-agricultural use that enters into force in 2020. A similar ban applied in Belgium last year.

This story was first published by our sister magazine The ENDS Report.

This post was written by: HortWeek

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Sadiq Khan calls for more powers and resources from Government as he presents Environment Strategy

In his final Environment Strategy, which he presented to the London Assembly this morning ahead of its final publication, he has asked for additional resources and powers to help him bring London’s pollution within legal limits, including accessing clean air funding.

The strategy continues with the target outlined in the Draft Environmental Strategy published last August to make London a National Park City by summer 2019 and at least 50% green by 2050. It also confirms that City Hall considers rivers and wetlands to be essential aspects of green infrastructure.

City Hall outlines that as a National Park City, London will be:

  • greener in the long-term than it is today and where people and nature are better connected
  • a city which protects the core network of parks and green spaces and where buildings and public spaces are not defined only by stone, brick, concrete, glass and steel
  • rich with wildlife where every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors
  • a city where all can enjoy high-quality green spaces, clean air, clean waterways and where more people choose to walk and cycle

Changes to the final version of the Environnent Strategy including bringing forward a commitment to establish zero-emission zones in town centres around the capital from 2025 to 2020, and tougher food waste and solar energy targets.

“This strategy sets out my plans to clean up our filthy air with bold new air quality measures, tackle waste and promote cleaner energy so we can make London a healthier city that adapts to the impacts of climate change,” Khan said. “In order to protect it for future generations, we must take tough action now – we have already done some fantastic work, but there is lots more to do, and we need all Londoners, and the government, to play their part.”

So far more than 200 events have been registered to take place during the new National Park City week taking place this July, which Khan announced in February.

The consultation on the draft strategy was the biggest ever conducted by City Hall with almost 3,000 Londoners and 370 stakeholders responding. Khan also announced a £9m Greener City Fund during the consultation. 

Khan, said: “I’m delighted that so many Londoners have got involved and given their feedback on the future of London’s environment. In order to protect it for future generations, we must take tough action now – we have already done some fantastic work, but there is lots more to do, and we need all Londoners, and the Government, to play their part.

“This strategy sets out my plans to clean up our filthy air with bold new air quality measures, tackle waste and promote cleaner energy so we can make London a healthier city that adapts to the impacts of climate change. We must also protect, improve and add to our outstanding green spaces as we aim to become the world’s first National Park City.

“By continuing to invest in our environment and work with boroughs and communities, we can improve the health and well-being of everyone living in London.”

Green infrastructure, including green space, is also an important part of the mayor’s Draft London Plan, with health of its residents a key concern. This outlines a vision of the capital where green spaces are integrated into the heart of planning decisions and includes the ‘Healthy Streets Approach’ which proposes more walking and cycling routes and more “social spaces” in the public realm.

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West 8 wins Bernie Spain Gardens design competition with ‘Sleeping Beauty’ pollinator garden

The Rotterdam, Netherlands-headquartered urban design and landscape architecture practice focused on creating a pollinator-friendly garden for the public park, which is run by the social enterprise owner and manager of the gardens, Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB).

The ‘pollinator gardens’ feature an abundance of native nectar and pollen-rich flowers, chosen to create an ideal habitat for foraging, shelter and nesting for birds, bees, butterflies and moths throughout the seasons. Human residents, workers and visitors can also enjoy the sights and scents of the blooms and they will be encouraged to take ownership of their care by a custom-designed garden ‘pavilion’, described as a contemporary twist on the garden shed.

The wood and glass structure features several custom-designed rooftop beehives and has a strong botanical, educational and community focus. The pavilion also pays homage to the legacy of Bernadette Spain, a local campaigner on health and housing provisions in the 1970s, after whom the gardens are named.

West 8 design director Adriaan Geuze said: “Bernie Spain Gardens are a sleeping beauty that will become an adored haven not only for flowers and pollination but also for people. The participation of the local community will be an integral part of the of the revitalisation and future success of the upgrade of the northern garden.

“The seasonal pollinator gardens will become a meeting point for the area’s diverse community of residents, office workers, and visitors. The design vision for the gardens is deeply rooted in the English DNA of creating gardens. It will be a horticultural display garden and an educational landscape for children and for everyone who does not have access to a garden.”

West 8 was one of five shortlisted competition entrants in the competition the competition, launched at the end of 2017. The others were Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape, J & L Gibbons, Kinnear Landscape Architects (KLA), and Reynolds Design.

CSCB’s group director, Iain Tuckett, said the decision was unanimous and West 8’s design had got the most public support during a consultation of the shortlisted designs. “The panel were impressed by all the designs, each team responded with a different but credible response to the challenges of our brief. We can only commission one team to take its proposals forward but all five teams showed ingenuity, imagination and real care in developing and presenting their proposals. We look forward to working with West 8 to create the pollinator garden.”

CSCB and West 8 are now working to refine the design in the light of public feedback. It intends to appoint a group of residents to include one or more horticultural training practitioners to advise the project as it progresses. The idea is to ensure good local engagement and advice on community input and horticultural training opportunities. There will be another stage of design and consultation with the aim to submit a planning application by the end of this year.

The selection panel, chaired by Paul Finch, programme director at World Architecture, included Sue Foster (Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and Growth, and Sandra Roebuck (Divisional Director for Planning, Regeneration and Enterprise) for the London Borough of Lambeth; Rob Smith and Kfir Yefet (board members of CSCB); Iain Tuckett and Alison Pinner (respectively group director and deputy group director of CSCB). The competition was organised by Ted Inman (chair of Jubilee Gardens Trust).

This post was written by: HortWeek