(Read more about Leamington’s roundabouts in the 2015 Portfolio on Page 15. Click here: http://www.leamingtoninbloom.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/portfolio-lib-revised1.pdf )
Have you noticed the recent quiet horticultural revolution which is going on in Warwick District, affecting the planting on roundabouts, in parks and reserves, and other open spaces?
The judges of the Heart Of England in Bloom, who visited Leamington Spa in the summer certainly have, and one of the things they were most impressed by was “The imaginative and sustainable planting on the roundabouts”.
This example adjacent to Leamington Shires Retail Park shows a mixed design with gravel, hard landscape and mixed planting
Another mix of plant material and hard landscaping used to great effect
Roundabout viewed from Warwick Place showing Prairie style of planting with grasses
The dictionary defines sustainability as the conserving an ecological balance to avoid depletion of natural resources. What that means to the people who work at Warwick District Council’s Parks Department, is simply a sustained effort to make the majority of planted areas long lasting by choosing plants that can be divided or rooted easily and used elsewhere. This not only reduces costs but it also increases biodiversity.
Many bedding plants are mass-produced, some grown in peat and packaged in plastic or polystyrene. They are often sprayed with insecticides and fertilizers, and need a great deal of care to get to the stage where they can be planted out. They are not really chosen for their usefulness to wildlife and often need continuous seasonal care. They are not only expensive to provide twice yearly from shrinking budgets, but expensive to our planet’s resources.
One alternative is to use a wide range of permanent planting such as bulbs, perennial plants and shrubs, which not only provide interest from the colour, shape and texture of foliage, but a long flowering season ensuring much needed nectar and pollen for our beleaguered wildlife, especially pollinators. (see image of similar planting on The Parade)
Of course there’s a great deal of skill involved in choosing the right plants, as it’s not quite so easy to ensure a continuous and harmonious display only using shrubs and perennials.
There’s a lot of factors to take into account such as having to agree all the changes with the County Council Road Safety Team; plants must be able to withstand salt spray from roads that have been gritted, oil and petrol pollution from passing cars and lorries, air pollutants, damage from vehicles driving over the verges, and lack of regular watering.
Sustainable planting is also about re-using waste, so for example, log walling has been used in the Sensory Garden which was made from the trees which were felled as part of the project, and a bug hotel was made from bits of material left over from other jobs and has been a huge success, with solitary bees inhabiting it the day after it was finished.