In cities with increasing population density, people are losing their connection with nature, soil and plants. There are fewer and fewer plants, although they are essential for well-being. The really big step would be to bring nature back to cities, because it changes people and settlements too, the speaker opined. The steps leading to this first require plans.
It’s important that what we make is what residents want, that people like and that it is professional. Easy-to-understand communication helps a lot in making us fall in love with the changes.
If we can work with nature, the result will not only be a visual element, but we can also have an impact on green roofs. Colors are important, they deepen understanding and create more serious feelings. This is the art of garden design. People no longer want only to look at the garden and nature, but also to experience it, and they do not want to remain outside observers. For example, the specialist highlighted the flowering period of cuckoos in California in 2019. It was a huge experience in London for those who saw it, since it has been a long time since perennials have been opened in such a large area. Many people went to plants to take pictures to be part of nature.
There is an increasing need to experience nature, whether it is in our own garden, park or highway. Colored fields should be created in cities, similar to what is created naturally in nature.
Landscape architects and gardeners have the ability to trigger emotions in people as a result of their work, which is why you don’t always have to think in terms of color, because green is also colorful enough.
The specialist participated in the creation of the London Olympic Park named after Queen Elizabeth, where it was possible to achieve the effect of super-flowering.
Nigel Dunnett is Associate Professor of Plant Design and Urban Plant Applications in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield. One of the world’s leading authorities on innovative approaches to landscape architecture and green/blue urban infrastructure. It plays a leading role in the environmental and sustainable design of gardens, landscapes and public spaces. In his work, he takes into account the integration of ecology and horticulture in order to create stunning gardens that are dynamic, diverse, natural, low-cost and highly effective. In 2018, he won the Landscape Institute Award for Plant Design and Public Plant Applications and the Strategic Environment Award in the Most Outstanding Project category for the Barbican Podium roof garden.
His famous works include the Superbloom in the Tower of London Moat, the Barbican Garden, the Meadow of Golden Flowers and the Asian Garden in the Olympic Park in London, the Gray to Green project in Sheffield, the Diamond Jubilee Garden in Buckingham Palace, and the Verde Square in Bergamo.
The green space designed in a natural style fits well with the contemporary architecture and all its elements. It is worth noting that as urban areas become green, their users are also changing. A direct connection with nature is restored, and in addition, green cleanses cities, cools them and fills them with life.
Super bloom in the tower
In 2019, it was decided to place a temporary park 2 in place of the moat of the Tower of London. On the occasion of the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth. Plans Nigel Dunnett The basis of his idea was provided by Impressionist and Pointillist paintings. He divided the area into squares, gave each unit a different color, and used a seed mixture of 15 different colors of flowers, creating the super blooms. The landscaping was completed in 2021, and small hills and valleys were created so people can go among the plants.
There are so many monoculture areas in England that, according to Nigel Dunnett, if it were possible to create a SuperBloom in the Tower, it would be possible elsewhere.
The diverse planting has supported bees, pollinators and seed-eating birds, and provided diverse biodiversity for Londoners and tourists.
From gray to green
The Green to Green program began in Sheffield in 2016, and phase two is currently ongoing. Thanks to the UK’s largest sustainable urban water management project (Sustainable Drainage Systems, SuDS), a 1.6 km long green street has been created. More than half of the previously covered area has been created with a diverse green roof. This was possible because after the construction of the Outer Ring Road, the number of people using the previously crowded road decreased. Rainwater reaches the rain gardens and drainage ditches, and the system is able to capture it, clean it, direct it to the green roof and drain the surface rainwater there. The growing medium consists of 70% crushed sandstone, 20% composted green waste, and 10% sandy loam soil.
Some groups of plants are fast-flowering and short-lived, and will not be visible after a few years.
Their place is taken by slower-growing and long-lived species. Nigel Dunnett was one of the dreamers of the plans. The program became very popular among residents, and more similar programs have since been encouraged. It is cost-effective to maintain the created green areas, and the biggest task is to cut them completely in the spring. According to the spokesman, the streets will be the gardens of the future, and will not be dominated by cars.
It has become a pattern to follow
The aforementioned program is the first step in how to respond to climate problems, create sustainable and biodiverse areas in cities, moving from individual elements to transforming green space and entire urban landscapes. “Let the environment be the main idea,” stressed Nigel Dunnett in the roundtable discussion that followed his presentation. We heard that Sheffield was becoming a model, but it had to reach people’s levels of awareness.
Solutions must be found that provide a solution to the problem of climate change, even within twenty to thirty years.
In the coming period, precipitation will not decrease significantly in absolute quantity, the rate of decline will be 8-10% at most, but its distribution and dynamics will change, and prolonged droughts and frequent flash floods will alternate.
The new dynamism requires a different kind of landscape architecture, and change must be part of the system. Species, varieties and weeds that appear spontaneously must also be accepted. The future is neither good nor bad, it will be different. In urban conditions, invasive plant species and varieties also behave differently, and they also have a place in new ecological thinking. Nigel Dunnett does not accept the view that all native species are good and all non-native species are bad. He believes that we need to look at their behavior in urban conditions.
People are excited about the presence of plants. It arouses emotions, can arouse the need for nature, and can create a different level of consciousness in people.
The modern permaculture movement is still young, barely forty years old. It is necessary to experiment, and to come back to innovation so that the view is not the same everywhere. The dialogue between art and landscape architecture is also important, since the garden is the result of a very high level of art, and not a static creation like a sculpture. Art should be present in natural gardens as if it existed by itself. Creativity is an important element in environmental design.