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With the UK weather seemingly doing as it pleases at this time of year - year on year - the one sure way of officially announcing the arrival of spring and horticultures great show seasons is the Malvern Spring Gardening Show (8 – 11 May 2008) held at the Three Counties Showground.
But you can’t keep weather issues out of the news that easily, or out of the minds of the gardener or public at large. With what seems a feast or famine weather system, or should we say flood or drought, water and all to do with is definitely a serious topic and one that has inspired the design of Marion Dale & Gary Couzens’ Aqua Libra (The Rainwater Harvesting Garden) at this year’s show.
The Aqua Libra garden is designed to meet the requirements of an environmentally aware professional couple desiring an enjoyable, well-planted, low-maintenance garden, sustained through the harvesting of rainwater.
Assisting in its creation Marshalls, the UK’s leading hard landscaping transformation company, has supplied its Tegula Priora permeable block paving, a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDs), which has been used in the driveway and circular paths to enable the rainwater to be captured for re-use.
Marshalls Tegula Priora is a patented unique concrete block that allows water to soak away naturally in to the ground below at source. This has several affects; it can as with the Aqua Libra Garden be re-used for watering the garden or cleaning your cars, bikes etc… and it can reduce the risks of flooding from surface water run-off that would enter our hard pressed drainage system.
The issue of surface water run off has gathered momentum recently with the publication of DEFRA’s (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) Future Water Strategy. It states, ‘The Environment Agency has estimated that up to two thirds of the floods which happened last summer (2007) were caused by significant amounts of surface water overwhelming the drainage systems’.
One area where it will affect both householder and house builder alike are the measures to be taken to decrease the amount of water running down our drains by using SUDs, so increasing the amount of water allowed to drain naturally into surrounding ground. This will comprise proposed changes to the planning system so that permission is needed for paving over front gardens unless permeable materials are used.
Chris Harrop, Group Marketing Director, Marshalls plc, said:
“Firstly, it is encouraging to see landscape designers such as Marion and Gary bringing real life concerns to the public’s attention and showing them solutions in an innovative show garden at events like this, which we were more than happy to support.
“The growing problems of surface water run off into our drainage networks is an issue that Marshalls has been addressing for numerous years. During this time we have developed the UK’s most extensive range of SUDs solutions for both the commercial and domestic markets that are aesthetically pleasing and sustainably suitable for the front of their houses. The consultation process recommended by DEFRA and the proposals it will investigate is welcomed by us in helping to resolve what is now recognised as a serious environmental issue.
“However, these issues are complex. Today, we have a growing number of households needing to park 2 or more cars; children are staying at home longer and are bought, or able to buy their own transportation; more and more of us are commuting longer distances to work so may need the use of a car; drainage networks due to age, or capacity now feeding in to them has increased. And clearly there is a growing problem of climate change and extreme rainfall events. SUDs for the use in front garden areas, if people really need to do this, do make an impact on surface water run off, as also on driveways areas.”
With 100,000 visitors expected at the Malvern Spring Show this year Marion & Gary will be definitely be kept busy with questions on the subject and how they have created an innovative and inspiring garden with real environmental benefits.