Monthly Archives: May 2010

At last – a use for British rose gardens

The sweet smell of roses may be improving British politics

The sweet smell of roses is improving British politics

Marvellous that rose gardens are heralding a new age in British politics. Having found the perfect place for ‘getting into bed together’, Nick Clegg and David Cameron consumated their marriage in the garden of 10 Downing Street (after the 2010 UK Election). John Major thought that if the White House had a rose garden then Downing Street should have one too – so the name was changed. These days, a rose garden is more likely to give one a seat at the top table than an independent nuclear deterrant. The political stench has been foul for most of my life, so my hope is that many future political events will take place in thornless rose gardens. One worry though – there are no roses. As I often remark, good garden design requires good garden designers.

Sustainable management of grass in Islamic gardens

Sustainable management of grass in Islamic gardens This lovely photograph was taken by Michael Lancaster c1968. My first thought, on finding it this morning, was that is showed a sustainable approach to cutting grass. But do the water buffalos emit more C02 than the small amount of hydrocarbon a motor mower would use? Perhaps. But the buffalo C02 would be endlessly re-cycled and the fossil hydrocarbon would be transferred from the earth’s crust to the earth’s atmosphere. Another point evident from Michael’s photograph is that this is not how the greenspace should be managed. It ought to be a lush area of fruit and flowers.

Gazing on planet Earth

If we are not really that sure what is going on with our planet right now – that is not surprising! Just looking at the earth from a distance, even in a satelite photograph is an awesome experience. Add to that the sense that in an unknown galaxy – even on the moon – there are unknown possibilities… and you have fertile ground for a new generation of sci-fi movies about saving the planet from global warming.

Perhaps the middle of the GFC is not the right time to be thinking about space exploration and solutions to a crowded resource poor planet. But perhaps it is the right time to be doing some of the thinking about other planets if not the going. The atmosphere of Mars it is said to be 95.32% carbon dioxide. Yet, sometime in its past it is believed that Mars did support life – fishes, reptiles, birds, small water snakes, microbes etc (even if they were 1/3 the size of ours here on Earth.)

Clearly life on Mars did not die out because of anthropogenic global warming….so what went wrong?

The Landscape Man: Matthew Wilson at Chevington

I was about to give up on the Landscape Man series with the remark that if it had achieved nothing else it had at least proved that you are very unlikely to get a good design if you do not employ an experienced designer. It was therefore a relief to find that ‘property developers Clive and Debbie’ were employing a garden designer, Thomas Hoblyn, to help spend £250,000 on a garden for their old rectory in Suffolk. Tom’s training is actually in horticulture, but this need not be a hindrance – and if the individual has design in his or her blood, the knowledge of plants can be useful.
Clive seemed a pretty hard nut but I had to agree with his scepticism about the use of decking in a cold wet climate. Why do it? Tom Hoblyn seemed to be proposing it on the grounds that it had helped him win a Silver Medal at Chelsea in 2009. Part of the design concept was in fact to bring the Chelsea Garden to Chevington and there is a long tradition of re-cycling Chelsea gardens. I sometimes wonder if it should be a requirement for all Chelsea gardens. So was the design a success? Not really – but it was the best garden design in the series so far. The problem is that it was merely a blown up Chelsea garden – slick-ish but conceptually vacant. You can’t just pile in features and expect to have a whole which is more than a collection of parts ‘Rose garden’, ‘Formal lawn’, ‘Hornbeam Hedge’ etc. Clive seemed to think that perfection of execution would do the trick. Its a good thing to have but, like the assembly of features is not enough. One also needs imagination, creativity and taste.
PS a curious feature of this series is that Matthew Wilson has managed to pick up so many of Kevin McLeod’s speech mannreisms. Is Kevin doing a voice over?

Melting away in time

Some predict that as the polar ice caps melt major cities such as London, New York and Bangkok will be flooded.

How are we to determine if such a future is in store? And how quickly it might become reality?

To understand the likelihood of such an event, and perhaps how quickly it might be likely to occur – some understanding of the historical  and contemporary geological setting of the cities is useful.

It is believed that the continent of Britain was formed some 200,000 years ago during a megaflood event.

What is happening today? Does the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano have any relevance for Londoners apart from air traffic disruption?

(Geology experts most welcome to comment!)