Beth Chatto gravel garden verbena bonariensis in foreground

Episode 224: Nature from the Rubble

Hello and welcome to this episode of Roots and All. This week, I’m speaking to landscape architect Sally Bower. Sally has just been awarded the main RHS prize for her Bursary Report titled ‘Nature Rising from the Rubble’ which looks at gravel and recycled aggregate gardens in Essex and London. Specifically, Sally looked at John Little’s Hilldrop garden, RHS Hyde Hall, Beth Chatto’s gravel garden, the Langdon Nature Discovery Car Park and the Horniman Museum Grasslands garden and her findings were invaluable if you’re interested in designing with or growing in these types of media, and Sally had some surprising findings of note too.

Dr Ian Bedford’s Bug of the Week: Harlequins

What We Talk About

The purposes of the study and the distinctions between the different growing media used by people creating gravel/rubble gardens

Is this style of gardening be appropriate across the whole of the UK?

Big Sky Meadow – is this style of planting is as labour intensive as a traditional flower border might be?

In Beth Chatto’s garden, when beds are newly installed or are refreshed, they are subject to double digging during which process mushroom compost is incorporated to improve soil fertility. How does this gel with the idea that plants grow really well in low fertility, well-drained gravel substrates?

John Little’s private garden and how it is built to encourage biodiversity

How important is a site specific approach?

One of the gardens is a success because once the plants grow through the aggregate and reach the clay below, they grow happily and healthily. Isn’t this just a gravel mulched garden rather than a proper gravel garden?

How gravel gardens make a positive environmental contribution

Why does soil which contain demolition waste high in lime capture carbon more quickly?

Sally’s favourite example of this type of garden from the ones she wrote about

About Sally Bower

Based in Liverpool, I’ve been a landscape architect and garden design for over 20 years. My designs aim to develop attractive low impact schemes which reconnect people with nature, support wildlife and respond to the site and its setting. I am particularly interested in what it means to make a ‘wild’ garden and brownfield gardens for biodiversity and wildlife.


Read Sally’s Report – ‘Nature rising from the rubble’

Other episodes if you liked this one:

John Little of the Grass Roof Company

Beth Chatto with Catherine Horwood

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