Category Archives: Gardening

Planning Your Garden: Think Like a Pollinator

Published by:

Every food source and habitat provided can help pollinators rebound from the challenges they face. You can provide food and habitat in your garden to help pollinators thrive.

Here are seven ways to make your garden a haven for native pollinators:

  1. Use pollinator-friendly plants in your green spaces. Shrubs and trees such as dogwood, blueberry, cherry, plum, willow, and poplar provide pollen or nectar, or both, early in spring when food is scarce.
  2. Choose a mixture of plants for spring, summer, and autumn. Different flower colours, shapes, and scents will attract a wide variety of pollinators. If you have limited space, you can plant flowers in containers on a patio, balcony, and even window boxes.
  3. Eliminate pesticide use in your green spaces, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control.
  4. Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
  5. Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
  6. Leave dead tree trunks, in your green spaces for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  7. Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have appropriate habitat.

Thanks to Birmingham Open Spaces Forum for the lovely drawing they published in Facebook





Greening Small Front Gardens

Published by:

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has published a useful guide to greening small front gardens. A significant proportion of U.K. housing predates the arrival of the motor car; and estimates show that one-third of the 20.8m homes with front gardens have turned them into hard-standings, an area roughly equivalent to around 100 Hyde Parks.


The main cause for the increasing number is the significant rise in car ownership. The number of licensed vehicles in the U.K. in June 2019 was 38.7 million. Cars make up the majority of licensed vehicles. It is estimated that cars are on the move for just 4% of the time, otherwise being parked at home for 80% of the time and parked elsewhere for 16%. This is an enormous amount of metal sitting idly and occupying space most of the time!

The pictures show the RHS Guidance applied to a typical Sutton Coldfield Street; Highbridge Road in Wylde Green where tradional houses have had front drives paved with space for cars.

The findings also raise concerns about the potential effect the increased paving would have for floodwater run-off, making drains more likely to overflow. Reports on climate change adaptation have highlighted the increase in paved-over gardens as a danger during periods of flooding. Also paving over surfaces can intensify the urban heat island effect, potentially magnifying the effects of heatwaves in cities.

And front gardens are an incredibly valuable wildlife resource in any urban environment for example In leafy Sutton Coldfield gardens represent approximately 30% of land. So, the removal of each tree, hedge or square metre of lawn is a loss not only of the plants involved, but also for the wildlife that depends upon them for food and shelter. The U.K.’s gardens provide valuable habitat for a range of wild plants and animals including birds, mammals, amphibia and a huge variety of invertebrates.  And so the RHS guidance is timely . . especially here in the Royal Town, where late Victorian and Edwardian streets such as illustrated on Highbridge Road exude arts and craft character which greener planted front gardens can enhance. And at least for the moment pragmatically the guide doesn’t propose banishing the motor car; simply softening its impact on our environment.

Community Planning Initiatives / Langley Garden Suburb

Published by:

Langley Garden Suburb was an Eco Sutton Community Planning initiative for the Langley Sustainable Urban Extension to help make the new development greener and having a similar character to the Royal Town.

Langley SUE would be planned from the outset on garden suburb principles as a natural and green extension of existing local suburban and arts and craft forms.

The plan would be generated from what was appropriate and right for the locality rather than working backwards from artificially imposed targets for housing growth.

On this basis it should be much easier to get local support behind the approach.

Whilst the Community Development Trust (CDT) proposal also adds weight to this Community Planning narrative.

As can be seen by these images The Royal Town has at least if not more charm and character than the other cited Garden Suburbs – both existing and as proposed

The principle of development in the Green Belt has been legally determined but this does not mean that the targeted numbers and densities are appropriate or justifiable

The Royal Town should determine for itself the level and character of development that best suits the defining characteristics of the locality and seek to develop a Langley masterplan modelled on Garden Suburb characteristics

This will help better ensure the true development and integration of a sustainable community at Langley

The Many Benefits Of Gardening

Published by:

Growing fruits and vegetables promotes healthy activity, rewarded by healthy eating. There is much satisfaction in growing and eating one’s own food, fresh from the garden, full of vitamins and minerals – unlike much of that found on supermarket shelves. Any surplus produce can be shared or exchanged with friends, neighbours and family, thus promoting a community spirit.