Property group Bruntwood is exploring how urban greening can contribute to the health and wellbeing of cities and citizens.
The work forms part of its headline sponsorship of this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Show Tatton Park 2017.
‘The Bruntwood Experiment’ garden champions urban greening and explores the different ways we can use plants often written off as weeds that naturally colonise our urban spaces. This experiment aims to show how such plants can thrive despite their unconventional surroundings, supporting new wildlife and contributing to the biodiversity and overall well-being of a community.
The outcome of the experiment will help inform Bruntwood’s future design of green spaces in urban areas.
RHS Tatton runs until Sunday and is one of the highlights of the tourism year in the North West, expected to attract some 80,000 visitors.
Kate Vokes, director of culture at Bruntwood, said: “As our climate changes, gardens and plant life will play an increasingly key role in urban areas, from helping protect us against flooding and extremes of temperature, to supporting wildlife and helping communities to be healthier.
“Through our partnership with the RHS we want to emphasise the importance of enhancing plant life and green space in our cities for the benefit of the environment and future generations and we hope that The Bruntwood Experiment will help encourage conversation about urban greening.”
Ed Lister, managing partner of Altrincham-based Planit IE, the design firm behind the space, said: “We took inspiration from the science sector and how pioneering plants can colonise our cities and thrive with little care and attention. The idea centred around the petri dish, how cultures are grown and aspects extracted to further our understanding of the world around us. This is reflected in our garden with the circular design, featuring 1,200 suspended plants centred around a raised seating area.
“Much like a laboratory, the garden is a controlled environment. Species of city-dwelling plants have been selected for their adaptive properties and will be observed to help discover how they react to different situations. The water use can be monitored through the in-built irrigation system, while visitors can be observed to measure how the interaction with the garden affects their well-being.”
By using pioneering plants and simple planting techniques, Bruntwood aims to demonstrate that urban greening is accessible to everyone and can have a positive impact on local communities - already demonstrated through engaging students from Reaseheath College in Cheshire to come together and help create the hanging plants for the garden.
The Bruntwood garden covers 151 sq metres at the Tatton Park site and is constructed of environmentally-friendly materials. It was built by Lymm-based Hultons Landscapes. During the show Bruntwood will be bringing some of its partners to the show to host family-friendly activities linked with urban greening, including City of Trees, a project to reinvigorate Greater Manchester’s landscape by restoring underused woodland. A series of workshops and experiments will also take place in the garden with Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry. On Saturday 22 July, BBC Front Row Presenter Kirsty Lang will chair a discussion on new writing for theatre as part of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, one of Bruntwood’s major arts partnerships with Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre that aims to encourage and uncover new playwrights.
Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood, added: “Bruntwood is proud to be headline sponsor of the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. Our partnership with the RHS is founded on our commitment to improve the environments in which people live and work. As a long term investor in the city regions of the North and Midlands, we have deep roots in the places that we operate and forge strong links with our communities.”