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A wonderful weekend: A Festival of Urban Landscapes

I have known John Little for over 5 years now. We first met when I attended one of his green roof sessions when I first decided to create a green roof on a building I designed for Gardener’s World Live in 2012! John then came and spoke on my stand. We have kept in touch and I have helped install wildlife cameras in one of his amazing container rooms. It was through John, that I met close friend Dave Harper, who’s carpentry skills have helped me with so many of my projects.

When I heard that John was planning a festival and it was to be in his wonderful garden, I knew I had to be part of it… and wow… I was not disappointed! The garden is  wonderful mix of planting and experimentation as John is not afraid to push the boundaries and experiment. It was quite literally buzzing with insects and life!

He uses recycled building materials and crushed ceramics to create these wonderful planted areas.

John is also well known for his wonderful bee hotels. I have never seen so much activity!

John had invited an impressive collection of speakers from all over the world; all of them sharing a passion for urban greening and the impact that has on the people who live in our towns and cities. This was not a ‘normal’ conference though…. it was a magical mix of passion, enthusiasm and knowledge wrapped in the wonderful atmosphere that exists at John and Fionas’ special 4 acre garden in Essex.

We listened, talked, shared knowledge, ideas and experience and, most of all we enthused! All there were inspired and fired by the projects they undertook. I learnt about the incredible Laura Gattii’s vertical forests on tower blocks to the superb use of creative drainpipes and rain gardens with Wendy Allen… something I am definitely going to try! We wandered around the gardens, full of inspiration for bee hotels and the inspirational use of recycled brownfield type landscapes.

Throw superb weather, delicious food and live music into the mix and you have all the ingredients for a very special weekend.

It didn’t end there. Sunday morning and we explored the joys of the moth trap with experts on hand to ID the hoards of species! This poplar hawk moth was a bonus!

I can’t thank John and Fiona enough for welcoming us all into their wonderful home and to all of those who made this weekend so special.

I have returned fired up with ideas and inspiration. But, what will leave the most lasting impression was the tangible atmosphere of passion and belief that we can create better urban environments for wildlife and people….. I just wish these people had the power to lead the revolution that is needed to green the grey and change the tide of concrete and hard landscapes and show how we can live in cities with wildlife and green spaces combined.

It is a weekend that will stay with me for a long time… along with the  envelope of seeds I collected!!


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