PLASTICS IN GARDENS
by Olivia Stewart
1st Sept 2019
We are currently in the process of finishing off two large gardens in the countryside around Oxford. One has involved transforming a paddock into a garden, featuring a large oval pond with interconnecting spaces, including a large meadow, woodland and wildflower areas. The other was more of a technical project, completely re-building the areas next to a newly extended cottage and dealing with lots of level changes and hard landscaping.
Nothing can quite describe the journey of a garden design, from the initial contact call and meetings, through to the presentation of plans, before then moving on to construction detailing and finally planting design. A journey which often takes months to compete. Most people feel all the hard work is rewarded once the plants arrive bringing with them colour and life to the garden. The planting is always the last phase but marks the beginning of the garden’s life.
As garden designers we inevitably feel excitement and pleasure when plants arrive and the vision is complete. We can then leave a garden to grow and mature under the careful and skilled eye of a gardener, allowing it to take on it’s own character and evolve with the changing season and ages.
There is however, a small cloud overshadowing the whole process with the arrival of each individual plant in non-recyclable black pots. This can sometimes be in the thousands!
In this age of increasing awareness of waste and single use plastics we strive to create biodiverse spaces, greening up our corner of the world . However, it is a challenge!
Following the industry initiative to develop an alternative to the traditional black plastic pot there is an increasing number of kerbside recyclable, carbon pigment free, “taupe” pots . We are pleased to see these appearing in some of our plant orders. Reducing waste to a minimum is what we should be aiming at. We often have over 1000 plants going in to a new garden and would like to see nurseries adopt the many bio-degradable products currently available. Ideally a plant could be placed in the ground and the pot disintegrate within the space of a few weeks, resulting in minimal disruption to root systems, some fertilisation and best of all faster plant growth and establishment. Some products are coming to the fore, such as coconut fibre pots, but commercial implementation is slow.
As conscientious garden designers we will be keeping a keen eye on the progress of industry in this area and ensure our clients have informed choices and only the very best when it comes to planting their own gardens.