Landscape New Summer 2024

Page 1

Landscape News

The official journal of the British Association of Landscape Industries Summer 2024 10 ED&I Charter Group update and progress 24 Members celebrate at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 35 Technical: BNG review and increasing concerns 48 Education: Apprenticeships – not just for the young?

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Iam beginning to feel we have moved on from what must have been the wettest winter and spring on record. I’m not being particularly scientific about it, but it just feels like it was, and for someone who confesses to spend a lot of time in a studio – I really do think about the field team. When they all requested new hi-spec safety wellingtons – I couldn’t buy them fast enough. New waterproofs? Absolutely. More gloves? How many pairs? I am constantly amazed that whatever the weather – our team leave the yard at early doors to get to site and work their ‘boots’ off for our clients. Thank you to all of you who do. Clients may not always understand the prep time before and after site work, or the difficulty that our British weather brings – every day is a challenge - but the finished job is always admired for years and years and is only achieved by our dedicated and solution finding teams.

I have loved visiting the regional AGMs earlier this year. It is meeting members face-to-face that gives me the value I want from my membership. As with anything, it works best when we are engaged, so if you are feeling that you don’t get quite what you thought you would in return for your fee, pick up the phone and speak to one of the incredibly helpful team at Landscape House. They want you to know all about the benefits and events and support you are entitled to.

The run of 2024 AGMs came to an end in March with the South West region at the self-described “Place of Wonderment”, The Newt in Somerset. However sceptical I can be about gimmicky visitor experiences

New members (23

Accredited Contractor

East Anglia

• Dean Price Horticulture


• MJL Garden Design

North Thames

• M J Carr Landscape Construction


• DS McG

• Landscaping by Wallace

– I cannot fail but to be impressed by the huge investment that the South African owners have made on the edge of the Mendips. The day started early in the walled gardens. We filmed some sound bites for BALI Chalk Fund and GoLandscape with Paul Downer, talking to one of The Newt’s Head Gardeners, Andy Lewis, then we headed to the Garden Cafe for lunch where we ate star of the show reinvented vegetables with lamb as a ‘side’, after which BALI Treasurer and Board Member, Richard Stone, myself and other Committee members, traversed through the beech, oak, pine, walnut and cedar flanked pathways to the ‘Roman’ villa before devouring more cinnamon buns in the College Room for the actual AGM and presentations. It was an incredible day with a huge turnout for the South West – so very different to when I was first involved with the region in 2019 when Chair, Paul Lynch, stalwart committee member, Andrew Legg (am I allowed to have favourites?) and I would sit in a pub on the outskirts of Bristol, on our own, hoping someone would show up!

Chelsea will have been and gone by the time this hits your in-box. There has been much noise around the RHS changing the format of their shows. Change is always difficult for a lot of people, but we should applaud the RHS for trying to flex the current format and give more people a chance to be involved. Their first RHS Urban Show saw musician, Tinie Tempah, share the stage with equal legend, Tom Massey, to talk about their collaboration with Chase Distillery for the show. Surely these are steps towards more people getting involved. I’m going to try some different shows this

February – 30 May 2024)

South Thames

• Consilio Partnership

• DB Landscape Management

South West

• Muddy Wellies Gardens

• TM Landscapes & Construction

Accredited Designer

North West

• Robert Hughes


year and see some new things. I’ll always love Chelsea, but it can only be a positive to mix it up a little. If you didn’t get there, from Page 24 there are 5 full pages that take you to the show, BALI style – the team were there chatting to current and future members along with promoting BALI members to the public and immersing themselves in all things green.

Looking forward to all that the rest of the summer brings.

Best wishes

Tessa Johnstone National Chair

South West

• Adam Vetere MBALI

Accredited Supplier

North Thames

• Jubilee Seeds & Turf

• Origin Suregreen

Training Provider


North Thames

• Prime Training

Associate Contractor

East Anglia

• Glover Group (EA)

Associate Supplier

North Thames

• Origin Suregreen

South Thames

• Landscaping VA


Editor’s Welcome

Summer is finally here! After what has felt like the wettest winter ever experienced (although doing the research it was apparently only the 8th wettest since records began!), experiencing the growing warmth of the sun is lifting everyone’s spirits, as well as focusing us all towards this year’s summer show season.

Yet again, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has showcased the outstanding imagination and skills of BALI Accredited members. Primary schoolchildren have played junior judges at this year’s Show announcing The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust, built by The Landscaping Consultants, the first winner of the new RHS Children’s Choice Award. The general public agreed, with the garden also being awarded the People's Choice Show Garden. The RHS Environmental Innovation was presented to the World Child Cancer Nurturing Garden, built by Landesigns. The Best Balcony & Container Garden has been presented to The Ecotherapy Garden, built by Accredited Contractor Wright Landscapes. In total, 16 medals were presented to member-built gardens, along with a further two presented to gardens members consulted on. Congratulations to all the medal winners. View our full roundup of Chelsea on page 24.

Landscape Skills and Careers Manager, Jonathan Petitt explores the options and benefits of adult apprenticeships on page 48. This is an interesting option to consider whether you are looking to recruit, or upskill you existing team, Jonathan covers what is available, and what you need to be aware of when researching this apprentice option.

Technical Officer Owen Baker focuses on biosecurity, covering the introduction of the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) and what this means for our industry. Read more on page 40. Owen has also been looking further into Biodiversity Net Gain, reviewing the legislation launched by Defra earlier this year before discussing concerns raised by stakeholders and researchers. Read his update on page 35.

Finally, any time now all BALI members should be receiving a link to this year’s Who’s Who, which, for the first time is purely digital. This is such a fantastic resource to search for Accredited members across your region to work with and support your business.

Best wishes Katharine Hughes

Editor: Katharine Hughes


T: +44(0)24 7669 8656

M: 07800 573351

Sales: Joanna Pieprzak


T: +44(0)24 7518 5614

Registered address: British Association of

Landscape Industries

Landscape House

Stoneleigh Park Warwickshire CV8 2LG

Designed by:

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Copy Deadline (Autumn 2024): 14 August 2024

Front cover: The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust, build by The Landscaping Consultants

Image credit: Karolina Wojtasik

Contents 6 Chief Executive’s Report 8 Association News 15 Member News 24 Feature: RHS Chelsea 32 Technical 35 Biodiversity Net Gain 44 Estimating 46 Member Benefit Spotlight 48 Skills and Education 50 Events 6 46 44 48 24 35 32 8 15

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A busy spring leading into summer


Celebrating excellence of association members

I would like to congratulate all those members who took part in and won an array of medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.

It is no mean feat to deliver excellence at both RHS Chelsea Flower Show as well as in your day-to-day business, and with this in mind, I would like to celebrate the passion, the skills and experience and the determination of our members to continually deliver at the top level. Well done and congratulations to all!

For the third year running, I was impressed to see that the target audience of Chelsea Flower Show seem to be getting the message that they need accredited professionals to undertake their work. We should celebrate this together as it’s a joint effort and consistent messaging that is helping to get this message across and members should look to exploit their BALI membership as the unique selling point when comparing against non-members. You worked hard for your accreditation – why not use it to its full. Make sure you inform your clients what your BALI accreditation means, use the BALI materials both hard copy and digital to support your message about why you, are leading the landscaping industry.

See pages 24 to 29 for more information on BALI member gardens and suppliers at RHS Chelsea.

Membership renewal

We have had another fantastic response to membership renewal this year. I would like to thank you for your continued commitment and support for your Association and would remind you to make the most of your membership benefits. Check out your member page on the BALI website to find out what you may not be taking advantage of. There are so many resources available to you and most members say that they are impressed with the services and documents available to them once they have tried it. Take a look!

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

The Association has teamed up with the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman to offer an independent approach to resolving disputes between customers of accredited contractors and designers. We have been working for some time to find a suitable third-party solution to ensure that we don’t fall foul of the changes in legislation on Alternative Dispute Resolution, which means that BALI can no longer continue to offer this service in-house.

Watch out in the next few weeks for our communications providing you with much more information on this subject. Please take time to read it as there will be a change in the way these disputes with clients are handled.

National AGM

BALI’s National AGM has been set by the board of directors and will take place on Tuesday 10 September 2024. This will be held during the GroundsFest exhibition, allowing members to maximise their time out of their business. Please make sure you attend if you can. We are currently organising a guest speaker to talk about that all important ‘sustainability’ subject, and I hope we can all learn something from this as we move forward on this very important agenda item.

Regional AGM’s

The Regional AGM’s have gone extremely well and all thanks to your regional Chairs/ Vice-Chairs, committee members and of course not forgetting, our very own Francesca Bienek from the BALI team.

Fran has done an excellent job working with the committees to find some excellent venues, speakers and in many cases food and drink!

A huge thank you to those that have turned out this year. There was a much better vibe in all the regions including those that have been more dormant for a while. We are looking forward to the rest of the events this year and I caught up with Fran a day or so before writing this piece and I must say that there are some great events in the calendar so, keep an eye out on the newsletters and on the BALI website for more information. Don’t forget, you can attend any event in any region as long as there are spaces available!


Region Chair Vice-Chair

East Anglia


North West

North Thames


South Thames

South West

Yorkshire & North East

Will Innes-Taylor (Hillier Nurseries)

Ben Parkinson (The Garden Project Co)

Matthew Spedding (Composite Prime)

Alistair Bayford (Frost Landscapes)

Ryan Love (R. Love Landscapes)

Brian Herbert (Outdoor Options)

Paul Lynch (Elmtree Garden Contractors)

Ryan Horsman (Palmer Landscapes)

I would like to say a personal thank you to those that have stood down this year from their regional positions on the committees:

• Grace Townsend, British Sugar TOPSOIL – Midlands Vice-Chair

• Lee Bestall, Bestall & Co. – Yorkshire & North East Chair

• Richard Gill, Green-tech – Yorkshire & North East Vice-Chair

• Will Innes-Taylor, Hillier Nurseries –North Thames Chair

• Darren Skidmore, Skidmores of Hertford – North Thames Vice-Chair

• Allan Thomson, Central Training Services – Scotland Vice-Chair

• Jake Catling, The Landscaping Consultants – South Thames Chair

• Tessa Johnstone, Johnstone Landscapes – South West Vice-Chair

I would also like to welcome as well as thank you to those stepping up as regional Chairs/Vice-Chairs, as well as those that are remaining in post: Code of PracticeMowing on Slopes

As a reminder, BALI launched the above code of practice at the end of 2023, and this has been done in consultation with BALI members including the BALINCF Health and Safety Forum and with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). You can access the CoP by signing into the members area of the BALI website.

Nick Brown (SRC Group)

Freddie Smith (George Davies Turf)

Glynne Mingaud (Urban Landscape Design)

Noel Brock (Frognal Gardens)

Josh Dow (JDS Landscapes)

Charles Blumlein (Location Landscapes)

Suzie Cross (Ecosulis)

Jonathan Hill (Rolawn)


Environmental Horticulture Group (EHG)

The Environmental Horticulture Group (EHG) exists to champion the unique economic, health, social and cultural value of environmental horticulture, landscaping and arboriculture. The EHG actively works with government to pursue our shared objectives – including improving our environment by better incorporating green space in our towns, cities and the wider green infrastructure, boosting local economies, contributing to biodiversity, encouraging healthy lifestyles, getting more people into meaningful employment through our education system and leading our transition towards a net zero economy.

The main EHG is supported by four working groups:

1. Commercial subgroup

2. Education and Employment subgroup

3. Planning, Infrastructure and Water Abstraction and Storage subgroup

4. Research and Development subgroup I chair the Planning and Infrastructure Group and its main areas of priority are:

Priority 1. Maximise public access to green spaces and gardening through national planning guidelines, to exploit their economic, social, and environmental capital potential.

Priority 2. Evolve the local planning system to preserve and expand the area for domestic gardens and the extent to which they include greenery.

Priority 3. Ensure that water abstraction regulations work for industry through simplified infrastructure guidelines.

With these priorities in mind, we were successful recently in securing a meeting with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities’ Chief Planning Officer and her team.

This was a fruitful meeting and has opened the door for further engagement and consultation with BALI and the EHG over many of the matters that are crucial to successful green spaces, particularly in urban environments.

One of the things the Chief Planning Officer agreed was extremely important from the many points we discussed was maintenance of green spaces and landscape schemes as well as improvements needed in the Local Authority planning processes.

It also provided an opportunity to commence discussions at a national planning level on the potential for droughts and Temporary Use Bans (TUB’s) and how we may be able to influence the water service providers moving forwards.

Further updated research

The EHG is once again updating its original Oxford Economics research.

The EHG wants this study to build on previous research - first delivered by Oxford Economics in 2018. Given the amount of time since the original study, EHG are interested in reviewing the underlying input data and methodology used to undertake the economic impact assessment, before quantifying its impact in 2023.

In addition to producing new estimates of the industry’s economic contributions to the UK economy, EHG is also interested in assessing the industry’s environmental and social footprints.

I will keep you updated on our progress.

As always, thank you for your continued support and we hope your summer proves to be a fruitful one.

Kind regards,


IAdvancing Policy and Public Affairs

’m excited and grateful to introduce myself as the newly appointed Head of Policy and Public Affairs for BALI. This new role marks the start of a journey with me, Technical Officer Owen Baker and all our members where we endeavour to engage with as many as possible to better understand the issues we face within the landscaping and horticulture industry.

Through this engagement, we will build up the Association’s technical knowledge and transform our collective insights into meaningful recommendations for other members and the sector and powerful tools for advocacy. These collective insights will be crucial as we strive to work closer with Government and Local Authorities, challenging their approach where fair to do so. The Association will ensure that our members and sector are fully represented on the national stage when it comes to influencing market developments, government legislation, and government regulation. The Association will also do its part in helping the Government of the day to deliver and remain accountable to its commitments.

It is important to remain open minded and remember that our aims are not just about addressing challenges in the industry with positive solutions. It is equally important that we celebrate the excellence within our membership and the sector. Through supportive guidance and clear policy, the Association will lead the way in supporting endeavour and encouraging excellence with our members and the wider industry.

Introduction aside, I’d like to mention the upcoming General Election and what it means from the Association’s perspective.

4 July 2024 is set to be one of the most important elections for the UK in recent times, the power to shape the future rests firmly in the hands of the voting public.

Government is well into purdah, being the formal period of pre-election shut down where Ministers, Civil Servants, and Local Authorities refrain from making significant policy announcements or decisions. As suspected, a lot of the recommendations we have made to Government and wider legislation that we have worked towards, such as the prohibition of Peat and access to rebated fuel, remains in the pre-election limbo. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that any progress will be picked up from where it is was left when a new Government is formed after the election. We can make assumptions, that this will have significant impacts in various sectors in the country, including ours.

The Association is committed to following the campaign trail closely and will monitor the activity of all major parties running, including current opposition party and shadow cabinet. Our priority is to make sure that the issues we have worked on together with our members and the wider industry in the areas of environment, education, business support, innovation, sustainability, and carbon remain at the forefront of the Government Agenda regardless of which party wins the election.

What our landscape contractors, architects garden designers and suppliers need to see from Government are policies that are practical and recognise the industry as its own entity. Therefore, The Association will continue to advocate for

Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) reform, meaningful improvement of labour shortages and skills gaps, getting landscaping into the educational system at all ages, tool theft solutions, the role and value of green urban spaces, and fair representation of our sector in the Government’s water agenda. These are just a few of the many industry areas we endeavour to engage with our members on. The full scale of the Associations policy intentions for working with government, providing business support to our members and championing high standards for the sector to aspire to will be set out in a separate Association policy manifesto to be published soon. Through the Environmental Horticulture Group (Planning and Infrastructure Working Group), chaired by our own Chief Executive Wayne Grills, The Association will continue to focus on the national planning policy framework and all things that fall out of the planning process.

The Association will provide you with comprehensive coverage of the landscaping and horticulture related aspects of the election campaign. We strongly encourage our members stay in touch with BALI on all matters regarding industry policy so that we can keep our operations aligned with the needs of our membership.



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Here at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation with it’s vast landscapes, sculptures and gardens we are never short of jobs to do. We already have a SXG mower for cutting the lawns and one TXG tractor, so to help with the workload we purchased another TXGS24 23hp subcompact tractor.

“With the front loader and bucket fitted it’s largely used for excavating and landscaping purposes. It’s also used for towing trailers, transporting grass cuttings and leaves for easy disposal. With the two tractors we can run the PTO’s and systems off one trailer and can unload into a trailer attached to the other tractor. If we can attach something to them, then we can use it.

“With the front loader and bucket fitted it’s largely used for excavating and landscaping purposes. It’s also used for towing trailers, transporting grass cuttings and leaves for easy disposal. With the two tractors we can run the PTO’s and systems off one trailer and can unload into a trailer attached to the other tractor. If we can attach something to them, then we can use it.

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Advancing diversity & inclusion in horticulture: progress update and future plans

Following the successful ED&I event at RHS Wisley in autumn 2023, the evolution of the ED&I Charter group has been keeping pace over the winter months. In addition, the number of signatories to the Charter has increased, with the Group welcoming Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST), Green Roof Organisation (GRO), Hort Week and Plant Network, giving their commitment to progress the breaking down of barriers in the industry and increasing access and progression for all, as well as to work openly and respectfully with other chartered members. Landscape News managed to catch up with our very busy Vice-Chair Adrian Wickham, to get an update on the progress of the group.

Identifying the need for professional support, the Group consulted with a number of ED&I consultants in the second half of 2023, with Diversity Marketplace being appointed to support the Group going forward. “Everyone we met with came recommended, and all brought a different perspective,” said Adrian. “We selected to work with Diversity Marketplace due to the range of services they could offer us, as well as their previous experience and knowledge of our industry.”

With the support of Gamiel Yafai, Founder and CEO of Diversity Marketplace, the Group continues to develop its project document, providing the group

with structure and scoping out the role and objectives of the group, terms of reference and a forward action plan to deliver the objectives set out.

In 2023, the Group undertook a diversity survey, asking everyone within the industry to complete some basic questions in order to create a baseline of the diversity within the Horticulture, Arboriculture, Landscaping & Garden Media professions. The establishment of this baseline allows all future activity to be measured for impact, activities measured for success and adjustments made to ensure the Group is delivering to its objectives and targets.

Following on from this work, Gamiel recently hosted two interactive webinars, available for anyone within the industry to attend. The webinars – Creating a Culture of Inclusion – were designed with two clear objectives. Firstly, as educational tools to provide participants with a clearer understanding of the need to become more diverse and inclusive through knowledge and experience shared by Gamiel; and secondly to enable the Group to gather insights from a live audience by asking key questions and allowing participants to anonymously share their lived experiences.

The questions posed in the webinars ranged from broad, general questions on why participants felt driving diversity and inclusion within organisations was

important, what is diversity, what is equity, what is inclusion, drilling down into organisation specific questions, such as being your authentic self at work, feeling excluded, and ultimately asking what does an exclusive, diverse and equitable organisation look like?

The responses provided by the webinar participants were posted live, allowing key themes to be identified as well as further discussion and thoughts around some of the comments made.

All responses to all the questions asked during the webinars are now being collated and reviewed, with Gamiel working with the Group to develop an action plan from the results.

Adrian: “Gamiel has reminded me that, as an industry, we are the beginning of our ED&I journey, which is talking about it, raising awareness and getting people to think more about it. The next stage is then getting information, including what people think and feel. And then we finally move to the implementation stage, as we will be at a point of having all the data we need to implement firm action plans. Each of these stages takes time, especially the early stage of building awareness and importantly buy-in of the benefits of incorporating ED&I into the heart of organisational and individual action.”


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A whirlwind tour of the regions

What a fantastic, crazily busy time it has been over the early months of the year!

It has been wonderful to see so many members attend the AGMs and between myself and the regional committees we have a wonderful array of plans and ideas to continue engagement across the year and into 2025!

As the Chief Executive's report has highlighted, the committees have had a lot of changes of leadership, but remain strong and focussed, with a diverse range of members within each. I am particularly proud of re-establishing a new committee within the East Anglia region after a number of years of inactivity and I am excited to drive more engagement within this region.

North Thames

The North Thames committee were the first to hold their regional AGM and with their well-established relationship with Writtle University College, it was an easy decision to hold their AGM there.

We invited Ashley Edwards, Head Gardener of Horatio’s Garden London & South East to be a speaker on the day, who talked about his fascinating career journey, as well as learning about the

legacy of all the phenomenal work that goes into each Horatio's Garden across the country, and what a huge support and refuge they are for people with spinal injuries during their recovery.

“Keeping connected to BALI is really useful in these uncertain times, where so much is changing. I know we’re all busy but taking a few hours out of your time is well worth it.”

Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East are a social committee who always like to do something a little different! and so we did just that, hiring out a room at Roosters brewery for beer tasting and delicious tapas food. Before the fun times began, the AGM and member workshop took place along with talks from Roger McGilvern, John Chambers who kindly sponsored the event. He gave us an interesting talk covering the history of wildflower meadows, how over the years we have lost so much grassland and meadows and how this has led to some concerning statistics showing a huge decline in UK species including wild pollinator species, butterflies and moths. Concluding on the importance of planting wildflower to support local wildlife. Terry Smithson, Bioscapes also gave a talk on biodiversity drawing on his

extensive knowledge and experience in the conservation sector.

“The regional AGMs are a great way to gain insight into both BALI at a national level and the local committee. The Yorkshire and North East regional group are such a friendly group, and there is always someone to chat and network with – and their meets always have the best food!”


The visit to Thenford Arboretum was a bit touch and go because of the wet whether, so we hoped we would be able to enjoy the beautiful grounds on the day.

Following a thorough downpour first thing, we had a pleasant day starting with the AGM and member engagement workshop, a lovely lunch with a delightful albeit brief visit from Lord Heseltine himself. Head Gardener, Darren Webster talking humorously about his many years of experience working with Lord Heseltine on his many sporadic ideas before touring the stunningly well-kept gardens.


The Scottish AGM and member workshop took place at SRUC Oatridge College allowing students to sign up as members, as well as participate in the day. As part

East Anglia nursery tour at Barcham Trees

of the event we had Stuart Simpson, Ashlea as well as Susan Irvine, LDA Design talk about how they both worked on the Union Terrace Gardens historic project in Aberdeen. GreenBlue Urban also gave a tree pit demonstration of their ArbourSystem whilst talking about how and where these should be used as well as how it is put together.

“The BALI meetings are not just about networking but are an excellent way of understanding the issues faced in the various sectors. They also serve as a reminder to members of the many benefits and resources within BALI that are often overlooked, because the daily business takes priority.”

North West

With sustainability being at the heart of Manchester City F.C, and the recent work undertaken by Dominic Knower, Niche in creating bee habitats and areas around the ground to promote biodiversity, it was a fantastic visit The Etihad Stadium for the North West AGM.

We had an informative talk from Lee Jackson, Senior Grounds Manager of 32 years who spoke about the growth and changes of the stadium over the years, as well as the maintenance that goes into maintaining the pitch. The AGM and member engagement workshop created a lot of discussion with attendees and finished positively with the committee doubling in size! They will be planning further regional events to create engagement within the region later this year.

“We have been members of BALI for a long time but only recently started to actively engage with the member section of the website. Having access to our

own profile and being able to showcase the service we provide is helping us to improve ourselves as a business, and also ensures prospective customers are able to pick us from an overcrowded pool of garden maintenance providers.”

South Thames

Our South Thames committee were keen to revisit Provender Nurseries this year for their Regional AGM. Here, attendees had the opportunity to visit the nursery and see the new tree stem paddock, as well as hear some insightful business talks and the AGM. Steve Etheridge, Esse Landscapes gave a talk covering a host of popular business systems, discussing how they can be used within a business as well as the benefits of using technology to manage your business. Ed from Belderbos Landscapes also gave us a talk about a design project they undertook in the earlier days of the business, sharing insights into the project, the learning, challenges and sheer determination involved.

East Anglia

Following several years of inactivity, I have been keen to re-establish a new committee for this region. Following on from last year’s Fullers Mill event, we had a group of people interested in reforming the committee. In March this year we visited Barcham Trees, where we learnt how best to plant trees, had a great tour of the nursery and viewed their plans to build an areas of gardens and shop. Here we established a new committee of eight, keen to reengage the region.

“These events are getting better and better, those that couldn’t attend do miss out on opportunities for themselves and their companies.”

South West

For the last AGM of the year, we finished in the South West region where members had a treat of a day visiting The Newt. We had a sold out event with members on the day having a guided tour of the gardens, the cascade area through to the allotments, the orchards then on to the Japanese gardens. We had a fabulous lunch at the garden café, with the menu based on produce grown on site. Finishing with the Roman Villa tour which took us back in time seeing old ruins and covering how the Romans would have lived.

“I had a great day and, although I have previously visited the Newt, the group visit guides for the garden and the Roman Villa gave a different insight and more information that visiting alone. Meeting other business owners in our own field of work and having the opportunity to network was very useful.”

We are now into the summer season, and we have a fantastic range of events available to attend. Keep up to date on current and recently added events at

GreenBlue Urban tree pit demonstration at the Scotland AGM South West AGM and garden tour at The Newt in Somerset


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A triumphant return to RHS Malvern Spring Festival for Graduate Gardeners

Accredited Contractor Graduate Gardeners’ Cotswold Garden swept the board at The Malvern Spring Show, winning a Gold Medal, the Best in Show Garden, and the Best Construction Award. This is the eighth Gold Medal for Graduates at Malvern, the sixth Best Show Garden, and the fourth Gold and fourth Best in Show Award for the Graduate Gardeners designer, Mark Draper.

The garden was split into thirds, with three clearly separate areas: dining, lounge, and meadow, although each flowed seamlessly into the next.

The garden was accessed through a door from a courtyard, which opened into a raised dining area, nestled in a corner

of old dry stone walls and covered by a Douglas Fir pergola. The front supports of the pergola were set on ancient staddle stones, sitting in the surrounding York Stone paving. The pergola provides a sense of enclosure while allowing free flow of light and air, and the lovely effect of dappled sunlight on the walling, changing throughout the day.

Below the dining area was a ‘Lutyens’ style dry stone dome feature set into the wall, out of which a natural spring flowed down through a rill, made of York stone cobble setts, that ran the whole length along the front of the garden. This flowed into an old stone trough sitting in a stream that ran from the rear of the wildflower meadow.

The Secret Garden Feature Garden

RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2024

The picturesque Three Counties Showground, nestled beneath the Malvern Hills, makes a perfect backdrop for the RHS Spring Festival, attracting over a hundred thousand visitors each year. Most are drawn to the show gardens, designed to inspire garden owners who can glean ideas for their own outdoor spaces. In 2023 the ‘Wilder Spaces Garden,’ designed by Jamie Langlands, lead designer at Oxford Garden Design, won a coveted Gold Award, in addition to Best in Show, Best Construction and the People’s Choice Award…So, where to go from there?

This year, Oxford Garden Design was asked to create the central Feature Garden for the show. Entered via a polytunnel packed with tropical plants complete with atmospheric mist and disco ball, ‘The Secret Escape’ was possibly an incongruous, but definitely a fun space to enter. Johnny Timbers Shack, topped with an old, wreck of a boat echoed with the sound of an eclectic mix of music and accompanying dancing feet. The atmosphere was casual, as visitors rested on straw bales, cold drinks to hand, admiring the subtle mix of trees, shrubs, perennial and vegetable

Borders ran either side of the rill, dotted with Yew balls of varying sizes and infilled with perennials, the standout plants being Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ and Veronica gentianoides, overhanging the rill.

Steps ran down from the dining area into an enclosed seating area, with a Bramblecrest sofa and two chairs sitting around a low rectangular table. The area was paved with the same York Stone setts as the rill. Relaxed and subdued tones of the planting, with Euonymus alatus just breaking into leaf, made this a calming area to sit and chill, with the gentle trickle of the rill water running through.

The Wildflower Meadow was sown with a mix of thirty-four wildflower varieties, although the Ragged Robin was predominant at the show, with Ox Eye Daisies and Campion just about to break open. A mown path ran from the gate, through the meadow and over an old oak sleeper bridge, crossing the small stream that ran from the back of the meadow to the front, where it picked up the outflow from the rill. The stream was lined with old moss-covered stone, fallen branches, and marginal aquatic plants.

planting, many of which were grown in old barrels - a perfect use of recycled materials. The banks of native grasses and flowers had an established solidity - hard to imagine they we dug up from the edges of the showground only a week prior to the opening!

Behind the fun, a serious intent was at heart. Sheena Marsh, Director and founder of Oxford Garden Design, comments, “We always try put wildlife at the centre of gardens we design. Garden owners can do much to help nature. There is beauty in what were once considered weeds and we encourage gardeners to think about the importance of native plants, and to look at the merits of plants such as buttercups and daisies as well as more showy cultivars. But gardens are for people as well as nature to enjoy and I think this garden demonstrates that both are possible to achieve.”

As children and adults jostled competitively at table tennis, or simply relaxed in the glorious spring weather, this year’s feature garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival admirably demonstrated that nature and people can thrive side by side.


Barcham Environmental Credit Rating or Carbon Capture Calculator

The benefits which trees provide are now generally accepted particularly in harsh urban environments. Many of these benefits can now be calculated. The use of i-tree and other methods enables the benefits delivered by individual tree species to be factored into the species choice for any given planting situation. Environmental benefits such as carbon capture, carbon sequestration, storm water attenuation and pollution interception can be assessed.

In June 2019, parliament passed legislation requiring government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gasses by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. If successful, the UK would be a net zero emitter. Trees are Recognised as being an important contributor to succeeding with this ambition.

It was in late 2020 that Accredited Supplier Barcham Trees took steps to sponsor research and data analysis enabling all of the species and cultivars listed in their book, ‘Time for Trees’ to be graded for their carbon capture potential. Working with Treeconomics the tree nursery, commissioned work to estimate the amount of carbon which would be captured if a tree was allowed to develop to its full potential in the environment. This estimation was carried out for the

lifetime of a particular tree species or 300 hundred years for longer lived species.

It was recognized during the work that trees remain the only scalable solution for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and that as a general principle the larger the tree the greater the amount of carbon captured. The results were published in volumetric trems in the 2021 issue of ‘Time for Trees’ making Barcham the first tree nursery in the UK to publish this information as a guide to clients making species selection with specific environmental benefits in mind.

About 50% of wood by dry weight is comprised of carbon and the diameter or breast height (DBH) of any given tree can be used to estimate carbon storage potential. From the data analysis the Barcham Trees tag emerged providing an easy to use guide for comparing the carbon storage performance of individual tree species. Based on the environmental performance indicators to be found on all ‘white goods’ individual tree species are grade from A to E with all larger species in grade A to C. For example, a Sycamore is grade A while a Crab Apple is grade C. Both are contributors to carbon storage, and both are contributors to the carbon capture potential of the whole urban forest but it is the choice of appropriate species

for any given planting situation which is important. Why plant a C grade trees where there is space to plant and A grade tree and why plant an A grade tree where conditions will not allow it to fulfill its full genetic potential are just a couple of the questions which the Barcham Carbon Capture Calculator can inform answers to.

Growth rates were assigned to each species allowing for an estimated DBH for different ages of individual species to be calculated with age classes used beginning at 0 and increasing by 10 up to 50 years and thereafter at 75,100.200 and 300 years. Calculations were stopped at 300 years so long lived species such as Oak have the potential to store far more carbon than can be seen in the calculator.

The full data set can been found on pages 332-339 of ‘Time for Trees’ or at Further information about the calculation of benefits and other aspects of urban forest management can be found on

Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Director, Barcham Trees

Trees in the urban environment such as this Japanese Pagoda Tree, in full flower make a significant contribution to carbon storage.

SealEco acquire Gordon Lowe Products

When sister and brother, Ruth and Ted Low, of the family run business of Gordon Low Products, decided to step back from the company and enjoy their retirement, it was an easy decision to agree to an acquisition by one of their longest standing suppliers, SealEco. The Swedish manufacturer of EPDM and Butyl membranes have been supplying their products to Gordon Low since 1973 and

the superior product quality, combined with a similar company ethos, meant that it was a great fit with the excellent reputation that Gordon Low Products had built up.

Tom Low, the youngest son who remains in the business says, “SealEco was the perfect choice for us. They made it clear fromthe start of the acquisition process that they wanted us to continue to maintain the highest standards of fabrication and

The Harrowden Bughouse –a simple BNG solution

Accredited Supplier Harrdowden Turf now offers a simple BNG solution. The Harrowden Bughouse comes in two sizes and two complimentary designs – Insect Habitat and Wildlife Shelter. They take bughouses into the 21st century. Available in two sizes the bughouses measure 500mm x 500mm or 500mm x 1m and come with the provision for a green roof utilising Harrowden’s well known green roofing expertise but all in a simple tray, allowing quick tending and refurbishment.

With dedicated “housing” for hedgehogs, bees, ladybirds and lacewings both bughouses are double-sided for high occupancy and made from FSC Certified

Douglas Fir. As a custom product Harrowden are expecting to offer a leadtime of between four and six weeks as each one is built to order locally.

Bug houses act as miniature ecosystems, providing a safe haven for a wide array of insects. In a commercial setting where green spaces may be limited, bug houses serve as compact biodiversity hubs. These structures are typically constructed using a variety of materials, like wood, bamboo, and straw, creating diverse habitats suitable for different insect species. Holes and gaps in bug houses mimic the natural nesting sites for solitary bees and other pollinators, encouraging them to move in.

service. When Ruth and Ted took over the business from Jerry Low in 1991, they were able to build on already strong customer base of garden and aquatic centres, supplying rolls of Butyl rubber, underlay and PVC to the pond industry. Alongside this core business, the skilled fabricators made water storage tank liners and 3D box welded liners for ornamental fish ponds. We are looking forward to our own continuation as SealEco and moving into the next stage of our growth.”

From 1 January 2024, the two companies are now one entity, SealEco UK. The company aims to continue to build on the excellent partnership of manufacturer and fabricator and to focus, not only on their existing successful pond lining market, but also on key market sectors, in particular environmental water containment and management.

Environmental products and how they can help in the current climate are key for SealEco, as they (and Nordic Waterproofing) continue on their path to Carbon Net Zero.

Bug houses offer a practical and measurable means for commercial sites to achieve and exceed these requirements. By actively promoting the establishment of bug habitats, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship and contribute positively to BNG metrics.

Harrowden Operations Manager, Lee Andrew,:

“We have another strong story as we look to help contractors and landscapers address BNG. These new products complement our existing range and our existing expertise. We continue to work to bring better products to the sector backed up by quality and delivery.”


Acacia Gardens to shine at upcoming RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival

Accredited Supplier Acacia Gardens, a BALI award-winning team, is set to showcase its innovative landscaping & designs at the prestigious RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival in July. With three stunning gardens in the lineup, the company continues to cement its reputation as a leader in landscaping.

The first of these gardens, designed by Acacia’s own Kathryn Cox, is a unique

border that promises to captivate attendees with its intricate detailing and vibrant plant selections. This design reflects Acacia’s commitment to creativity and excellence in garden architecture.

Joining the showcase is the “St James Way”, a collaborative effort with celebrated designer Nilufer Danis. This garden is designed to offer a tranquil escape, combining aesthetic appeal with functional gardening craftsmanship.

IThe benefits of outsourcing your accounts department

n the 1990s, the father of modern business management thinking, Peter Drucker, coined the phrase “Do what you do best and outsource the rest”. He used it to promote outsourcing as a viable business strategy. Since then, outsourcing has become increasingly popular thanks to advances in technology, the need to cut costs and gain access to skills and expertise, and the flexibility and trust of business owners. As accounting is so highly technical and requires expert knowledge of both legislation and software, it will come as no surprise that it is one of the most commonly outsourced services!

As a business owner in the landscaping industry, you must have access to your

business’s financial information all the time and to ensure you have accurate and timely financial information at your fingertips, you should consider engaging the services of an outsourced accounts department. It is similar to having your business’s very own accounts function but without needing to employ people internally to run it.

With outsourcing, you will benefit from having experts in each area, such as bookkeeping, payroll, management accounts, budgeting, and cash flow. This may be a costeffective solution compared with employing internally when you take into consideration the associated costs such as employers’ NIC and pension, annual

“The Making Sense Garden”, designed for Flora Scouarnc and Vickie Pease-Cox of Vickie Pease-Cox Garden Design, is another highlight. This garden aims to engage the senses and offer a therapeutic space for visitors, blending texture, scent, and colour in an immersive experience.

Furthermore, Herman and his Acacia team extended their collaborative spirit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, assisting BALI member Mark Richardson in the creation of the St James Garden. This project underscores Acacia Gardens’ commitment to fostering partnerships within the gardening community.

Acacia Gardens is not only expanding its portfolio but also actively seeking new collaborations with garden designers, architects, and other professionals in London and Hertfordshire. With a vision for building planting led luxury gardens, Acacia Gardens is on a path to greater creative ventures and industry contributions. Keep an eye on this dynamic team as they bring groundbreaking designs to life at the Hampton Court Garden Festival and beyond.

leave and sickness, training, and managing and covering time off. Also, you may find the outsourced accounts department can assist with implementing systems to create efficiency, ensuring pricing is optimised and advising on variable costs that could be cut.

You might feel certain tasks should be done internally because you do not feel comfortable with the thought of giving a person outside of your business access to your bank account; for example, to pay supplier invoices and staff wages. You will be pleased to hear that due to technological advances, bank access is not necessary to make payments these days.

Think of outsourcing as being similar to intricate cogs working seamlessly together. Your business and your outsourced accounts team can collaborate smoothly, working towards shared goals and ensuring efficient financial processes. It provides an affordable, scalable and effective way to enjoy the benefits of excellent accounting practices. Choosing to outsource could be the first step you take to make life that little bit easier, safe in the knowledge that your finances are in good hands, leaving you to focus on what matters.

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Green-tech helps Bradford Council create rain gardens to reduce flooding

Bradford Council secured funding to carry out highway improvements and sustainable landscaping works to an area of the city known locally as the ‘Top of Town’.

The funding was secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, through the Bradford City Centre Townscape Heritage Scheme, and European Regional Development Fund, through the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

The project, designed by Bradford Council’s own Landscape Architects and Highways Engineers, set out to create a safe, healthy, attractive, and community-friendly environment for residents, workers, and visitors, which supports existing and new businesses at the Top of Town. It focused on North Parade, Rawson Square, and Northgate with a view to these public realm works being rolled out to the wider City Village area in the future.

A community engagement programme was conducted and resulted in overwhelming support for the greening of public spaces and the creation of new public spaces. The designs that were developed reflect the public consultation by introducing street trees and rain gardens and creating better public spaces on Northgate and Rawson Square.

Eric Wright Civil Engineering was awarded this high-specification public realm scheme and following the specifications set by the Council’s Landscape Architects turned to Green-tech for the supply of materials for the soft Landscaping element of the project.

The project aims to deliver local improvements that help tackle climate change, reduce the risk of surface water

flooding, and help preserve and protect the environment of the conservation area.

This is addressed in the soft landscaping scheme that included the installation of a new tree planting scheme and raised rain gardens as part of a sustainable drainage system (SuDS) throughout the scheme, which consisted of planting 2,000 plants and 34 trees.

The Project Landscape Architect, Andrew Mindham, has been recognised as a Rising Star in the 2023 susdrain SuDS Champions Awards.

SuDS are designed to manage stormwater locally to mimic natural drainage and encourage its infiltration, attenuation, and passive treatment. A network of ‘rain gardens’ has been installed in Bradford as part of a drainage system that is designed to help mitigate local flooding risks.

Rain gardens are areas of planting designed to temporarily hold, filter, and soak away any rainwater that runs off buildings and paved areas in a more sustainable manner rather than straight into sewers and helps to prevent the overloading of sewers.

Accredited Supplier Green-tech supplied 440 tonnes of Bioretention Soil and 240 tonnes of Green-tree subsoil to create the rain gardens. Green-tree Bioretention Soil provides an efficient permeability rate to avoid waterlogging on the surface area but holds sufficient nutrient levels and organic matter to support the vegetation used. It has been developed around the CIRIA SuDS manual guidelines for filter media in a SuDS application and uses the highest quality sands and green composts.

The planting of semi-mature trees will contribute to the physical landscape, whilst creating new habitats and increasing biodiversity by providing wildlife corridors and connections between green spaces. Providing options for wildlife to travel is essential for urban biodiversity.

Working in a busy city centre with high volumes of vehicular and pedestrian traffic caused significant challenges for all involved. There was limited access to areas of the site and restricted space for material storage. Needing to avoid double handling and risk of contamination, all soils were delivered directly to the working areas with GRAB lorries and spread within the planters. A just-in-time delivery approach was adopted which considered the works access and delivery times to reduce the impact on the local area.

Harry Logg, Project Manager from Eric Wright Civil Engineering comments, “This project was within a heritage area, traditional high-quality paving was installed throughout the site and the soft landscaping had to compliment that. Green-tech was chosen as they supply specialist soils to a high specification, meeting our biosoil drainage requirements whilst also being competitively priced. They are collaborative in their approach to working. Ben from Green-tech was always available by phone and email to respond quickly to the deliveries we requested and kept us updated on their scheduling. This was a critical factor in the success of the site given its location. The soils delivered were always of the same consistent quality, had good workability, and the new planting within soon flourished. We are delighted with the end results”.


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The importance of inclusive seating in national parks and historic sites

Working with national parks and historic sites, creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all visitors should be a top priority. One crucial aspect that is often overlooked is the importance of accessible seating solutions. At RSPB Sherwood Forest, a pioneering collaboration has showcased how thoughtfully designed seating can enhance the visitor experience and promote inclusivity.

Sherwood Forest, a legendary destination rich in history and natural beauty, has long been a beloved attraction for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike. However, ensuring that visitors of all abilities can fully appreciate the site's wonders has been a driving force behind recent accessibility initiatives.

In partnership with Accredited Supplier British Recycled Plastic, RSPB Sherwood Forest has introduced a range of wheelchair-accessible outdoor tables

Larsen Fusion XT Brush Joint

Larsen Fusion XT Brush Joint is a polymeric jointing compound for use externally in virtually all weathers. Largely regarded as the simplest option for domestic patios and paths, it is an effective and quick brush-in jointing solution suitable for landscapers and DIYers. Available in black, buff, and grey colours.

Can I use it in any weather? Yes, the Larsen Fusion XT Brush Joint can be used in virtually all-weather conditions however, heavy, or persistent rain can extend curing times or disturb uncured product in the joint, leaving an uneven texture. Temperature is another consideration. Always refer to the product’s technical data sheet for guidance on extreme weather conditions.

and seating options. These durable and low-maintenance solutions not only cater to visitors with mobility challenges but also contribute to a sustainable future by utilising recycled materials.

"Providing comfortable and inclusive seating is crucial for creating a welcoming atmosphere in national parks and historic sites," says Rob James, Communications Officer at Sherwood Forest and Budby South Forest. "By introducing these picnic benches, we've enhanced our infrastructure to support all visitors, allowing them to truly immerse themselves in the beauty of the great oaks and surrounding nature."

The collaboration between RSPB Sherwood Forest and British Recycled Plastic serves as a powerful example of how incorporating accessible seating can elevate the visitor experience.

It is crucial to consider inclusive design principles when working on projects involving public spaces. Accessible seating is not only a practical necessity but also a powerful statement of inclusivity and a commitment to creating environments that welcome and accommodate all visitors.

Can I use it on any type of paving? Yes, the Larsen Fusion XT Brush Joint can be used on virtually all paving types however, some materials can stain. It’s good practice to apply in a small discreet area, ensuring the finished result is satisfactory. Is it permeable? Yes.

Should the sub-base and base be permeable? Yes.

What is so good about the Larsen Fusion XT Brush Joint?

• Ready-to-use

• Great for 3-20mm joint widths

• Walk-on in 10-24 hours

• Apply in all weather conditions

• Suitable for all types of paving

• Available in 3 colours: black, buff, and grey

• High-quality, high-performance product from a trusted, professional brand

The Larsen Fusion XT Brush Joint is part of a complete paving system including Fine-Joint and Flow-Joint Jointing Grouts, Priming Slurry Bonding Mortar and BrickSlip Bond Stone and Cladding Adhesive.

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

BALI members receive an array of top


This year, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 opened to glorious sunshine and soaring temperatures. The mood was light as we all enjoyed recognising and celebrating the imagination and hard work of all the garden designers, contractors and suppliers, creating spectacular, environmentally conscious gardens.

Despite the bright weather being short lived, the enjoyment of the show could not be dampened, and as the clouds moved in, the gardens and trade stands were recognised by the RHS, bestowing medals and ‘best-in-show’ awards.

The RHS introduced a new award category for 2024, calling on primary school children - the next generation of landscapers - to present an award. The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust, build by Accredited Contractor The Landscaping Consultants was awarded the inaugural RHS Childrens Choice Award, in addition to receiving the People's Choice Show Garden Award Jake Catling said, "Winning the inaugural

Children's Choice Award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is incredibly special, reflecting the love and enthusiasm of young gardening fans. Our main avenue show garden was full of vibrant colours, playful elements, and sustainable practices that truly captured the hearts of the next generation, just as we hoped it would. We're so proud to have been part of this project, inspiring young minds in such a meaningful way. It was a delight to witness them playing and using the garden as it was intended to be."

The Best Balcony & Container Garden was awarded to The Ecotherapy Garden, built by Accredited Contractor Wright Landscapes. Managing Director, Lee Webster said, "We are delighted with the accolades of a Gold medal, plus the Best Balcony & Container Garden achieved at our first RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Supporting and sponsoring Tom Bannister with his design has been a fantastic experience, and we are incredibly proud of our team for their exceptional build execution. The event is prestigious, and the quality of the gardens is outstanding."

Wayne Grills, Chief Executive said, “On behalf of the whole team at BALI, I would like to congratulate all our members whose continued commitment excellence has resulted in exceptional gardens on show at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The ingenuity of some of the techniques used to build the gardens, as well as increasing focus on sustainable sourcing and relocation following the show, continues to highlight the BALI Accredited members deliver to the very highest of industry standards. We also recognise our Accredited Supplier members, some of whom have supported the garden builds, as well as those attending the show on exceptionally designed trade stands. I believe 2024 has been an exceptional show.” Show Gardens

St James’s Piccadilly: Imagine the World to be Different, built by Accredited Contractor Stewart Landscape Construction was awarded a Gold medal. The show garden pays homage to the revitalising influence of urban green spaces, with a large brick archway, constructed by Accredited Contractor Acacia Gardens, leading to a

The Ecotherapy Garden, built by Wright Landscapes.

churchyard rich with a selection of climate resilient trees, biodiverse planting and a sculptural timber counselling cabin.

The WaterAid Garden was also awarded a Gold medal. Built by Accredited Contractor Landscape Associates, the garden was designed to explore the challenges presented by an ever-changing climate. It focuses on sustainable water management, featuring a colourful array of plant species designed to deal with varying amounts of rainfall.

Awarded a Silver-gilt medal, The National Autistic Society Garden, built by Accredited Contractor Landform Consultants was designed to capture an autistic person’s everyday experience of the world. The cork ‘masks’ encircle a central sanctuary with a mesmeric kinetic sculpture, alluding to the inner mind’s complexity and beauty. The planting was support by Accredited Suppliers Majestic Trees and Creepers Nursery

As well as winning the RHS Childrens Choice Award, The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust, built by Accredited Contractor The Landscaping Consultants, and planting by Accredited Contractor Location Landscapes, also received a Silvergilt medal. Sloping level changes with wheelchair accessible paths, lead visitors to a planted shade canopy, observation platform, wildlife pond or walking stream, providing multiple opportunities to enjoy the garden wildlife, feasting on the pollinator-friendly planting.

A Bronze medal was presented to the Stroke Association’s Garden for Recovery, built by Accredited Contractor Landform Consultants. Designed as a peaceful, sensory space to support stroke recovery, the garden incorporates colour, fragrance and the sound of water to provide soft way-finding for those with visual or mobility impairments. The biodiverse matrix of native and non-native plants were chosen to meet the demands of different planting conditions in the garden.

Sanctuary Gardens

Built by Accredited Contractor Landesigns, the World Child Cancer’s Nurturing Garden was presented with a Gold medal. Designed as a sensory haven, this garden brings joy, hope and escapism through nature for children undergoing cancer treatment. Supporting emotional wellbeing, a child and a parent can stroll through the reclaimed brick path, which leads to scenic meadow surrounded by tall trees, perennials, annuals, and shrubs. At its heart lies a seating area, which is a restful place for children and their loved ones.

Killik & Co: ‘Money Doesn't Grow On Trees’ Garden, built by Accredited Contractor Landform Consultants received a Silver-gilt medal. The design creates a supportive environment for families to talk and spend time together over a lifetime. Oak planters with built-in seating punctuate the space, and are filled with scented flowers and foliage. The colour palette – specifically chosen for its calming properties – has soft whites, pale lemons and pops of lavender and purple. The garden was support by Accredited Supplier Creepers Nursery

Flood Re: The Flood Resilient Garden, built by Accredited Contractor Belderbos

Landscapes in association with Water Artisans, was awarded with a Silver medal. Designed not only to be a beautiful space, it also helps to reduce flood risk, and recover quickly after periods of heavy rainfall.Dense planting slows the flow, while water is also captured and stored for later use. The Flood Re: The Flood Resilient Garden will be inspiring, aesthetically pleasing, and full of useful ideas to future-proof our gardens and address the disruption that flooding brings.

A Silver medal was given to The Bridgerton Garden, built by Accredited Contractor Stewart Landscape




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Construction. The garden is designed to represent a character from Bridgerton, with a shaded space down one half of the garden alluding to themes of mystery, turmoil and defiance; layers of groundcover, ferns and ivy are intended to represent a woven network of secrets. In contrast, the other half of the garden graduates to a brighter palette of sophisticated colours. The garden was supported by Accredited Supplier Folia

The Freedom from Torture Garden: A Sanctuary for Survivors, built by Accredited Contractor Living Landscapes was also awarded a Silver medal. The garden, a curvaceous and immersive space, is a place of sanctuary, of peace and hope where horticultural therapy calms, heals and restores survivors of torture on their journey to recovery. Sculptural streams of willow divide the space, enwrap the visitor and provide an organic place of sanctuary.

Container Gardens

Receiving a Gold medal, as well as Best Balcony & Container Garden was The Ecotherapy Garden, built by Accredited Contractor Wright Landscapes. Imagined as a small London courtyard, aims to rejuvenate physical and mental well-being – after a cold plunge, a bench offers a place for contemplation. The handmade hypertufa containers have a weathered texture and the containers highlight gardening versatility in confined spaces. The garden provides a quiet retreat, seamlessly integrating hard landscaping, nature, and wellness to highlight the benefits of ecotherapy. The garden was supported by Accredited Supplier London Stone

The Water Saving Garden, sponsored by Affinity Water, and built by Accredited Contractor Castle Landscapes won a Bronze medal. The garden is a love letter to the Chilterns’ iconic chalk streams, highlighting the urgent need to save and re-use rainwater. With temperatures hitting record highs, drought and hosepipe bans, the effects of climate change have started to hit home in recent summers. The design features many ingenious solutions blended into a contemporary garden setting.

All about Plants

In the Marquee, the Bowel Research UK Microbiome Garden, built by Accredited Contractor Atlantes Landscapes was awarded a Gold medal. The garden explores the fascinating connection between the health of the soil, wildlife and our own microbiome – inspiring people to rewild their diets, gardens and relationship with the land. Edible plantings offer a probiotic feast that nourishes the human


The Water Saving Garden, built by Castle Landscapes
Killik & Co: ‘Money Doesn't Grow On Trees’ Garden, built by Landform Consultants Flood Re: The Flood Resilient Garden, built by Belderbos Landscapes The Freedom from Torture Garden: A Sanctuary for Survivors, built by Living Landscapes World Child Cancer’s Nurturing Garden, built by Landesigns The National Autistic Society Garden, built by Landform Consultants. © RHS / Neil Hepworth

microbiome, helping safeguard against a myriad of bowel-related ailments and cultivating a healthier future for all.

Accredited Contractor Greenscape Gardens built the Gold medal winning Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden, supported by Accredited Suppliers Deepdale Trees and How Green Nursery. The garden is a safe and peaceful sanctuary to sit within the beauty of nature, whilst sharing experiences of grief, or having a moment of quiet reflection. The space has the ability to accommodate the varying mobility needs of the Grief Kind Garden users, with sight lines of the garden, as seen from a bed or a chair, considered in the design. A range of sensory perennial plants and a number of unusual specimen trees have been selected to provide year-round interest.

A Silver-gilt medal was presented to the The Panathlon Joy Garden, built

Landscapes. Conceptual depictions, such as curved tree stems, symbolise Panathlon’s objective to normalise difference, with a winding path through the centre promoting inclusion, in addition to creating a sense of space. The garden shows how to create an uplifting and colourful planting scheme for a more joyful look and feel. The key message behind the garden is that joy is for everyone and that all children deserve the chance to enjoy life.

Great Pavilion Awards

The 'Diversity is Queen' exhibition received a Silver-gilt medal. Working in partnership with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Accredited Contractor Ground Control's landscape architects co-designed and built the exhibition to educate visitors on the diversity of bumblebee species and their habitats.

BALI Training Provider Sparsholt College received a Silver-gilt medal for Plants, Routes and Branches. The was created by Sparsholt's multiplemedal-winning-team, including Chris Bird who celebrated his 26th RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden design this year alongside fellow Lecturer Lucy Lewis.

Plant of the Year 2024

Prunus ‘Starlight’®, introduced by Accredited Supplier Frank P Matthews was awarded the RHS Plant of the Year 2024 Prunus ‘Starlight’® stood out among the competition for its remarkable features, including its stunning profusion of pure white blossoms that emerge in early spring, creating a breathtaking display that heralds the start of the gardening season. Its compact growth habit and disease resistance make it an ideal choice for both urban and rural landscapes.

Stroke Association’s Garden for Recovery, built by Landform Consultants WaterAid Garden, built by Landscape Associates The Panathlon Joy Garden, built by Stewart Landscape Construction. © RHS / Neil Hepworth
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Inspiring sustainable landscaping

Credit: Oliver Dixon

Regular readers of Landscape News will be aware of the Association’s eagerness to share work completed by members which highlight innovative, sustainable ways of working by reducing and/or offsetting carbon emissions, improving biodiversity, minimising waste or conserving natural resources.

At their shows the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are increasingly challenging exhibitors to demonstrate sustainable practices. This, when combined with the creative minds of members, has led to exciting, innovative solutions to the ongoing task of ensuring sustainability is at (or close to) the heart of projects.

This opportunity to highlight what can be created from new materials and techniques is at the heart of It doesn’t need to cost the earth, a show garden designed and constructed by Association member Michael Lote, which he exhibited at RHS Malvern earlier this year.

Although a relatively new Association member, Michael is an old hand in the industry. An early career on the tools in landscape construction followed by a degree in Landscape Architecture has given Michael a broad skillset and the ability to work from both sides of the spade.

Michael, who runs Accredited Contractor MJL Garden Design, designs and constructs spaces for domestic clients. He aims to create gardens with an environmental conscience, showcasing what is achievable with sustainable construction methods and innovative products.

Whilst RHS Malvern 2024 represents Michael’s first solo project, members may have seen Michael’s work on previous RHS Malvern and BBC Gardeners’ World Live shows. Michael is no stranger to winning awards, having been a finalist in the 2024 Association of Professional Landscapers Award ceremony.

But it’s one thing pleasing one or two domestic clients, and another a team of RHS judges followed by many thousands of gardening enthusiasts, so what drives a landscape professional to exhibit at an RHS show? Michael tells us he enjoys the challenge of interpreting a clients’ vision (whether that is 2 or 20,000 clients!) and yearned for the opportunity to share his own message with visitors. He also enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with thought-leaders in the industry.

This has clearly worked as, along with a small but passionate team, Michael has created an exciting, innovative space which marries sustainable construction techniques with excellent horticultural knowledge. This was recognised by the

judges at RHS Malvern, who Awarded the garden a Gold medal.

Rather like with Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), the garden seeks to reinstate habitats that have been impacted by property construction. This ambition is achieved by thoughtful use of construction materials to minimise the overall carbon footprint and mitigation of lost habitats.

Designed to suit a modest-sized plot found in new-build properties, Michael’s intention is to provide visitors with inspiration they can take back to their own gardens, prompting consideration for retain, reuse and recycle.

So how does this translate on the ground at RHS Malvern? Michael has thoughtfully chosen each component of the show garden to support the his visions of carbon footprint and impact mitigation:


For the sub-base Michael has used a product manufactured from recycled glass. Commonly referred to as cellular glass or foam glass, the product has gained traction in the construction industry

The main advantage of the product is the fact it is made from post-consumer waste glass, and therefore replaces a quarried aggregate with recycled product. It is also an excellent insulator, stable, non-capillary (i.e. does not absorb water), fire resistant and strong. The downside is the higher cost than MOTType 1.

Michael has also used recycled glass in the project. Recycled glass sand is a byproduct of the stone finishing process, but can also be manufactured from – yep, you guessed it, used glass materials - which are crushed and screened before reuse in landscaping and construction projects. Michael has used the recycled glass sand in the bedding layer of the stone paving.


For the hard landscaped areas of the garden, Michael has used stone. Sourced from York, UK, to reduce transport emissions, Michael is using larger units for the path combined with gravel sourced from the same supplier, which is a byproduct of the manufacturing process. Layout of paving has been optimised to minimise cutting and any waste.


Timber fencing in the garden has been constructed using waste wood – originally part of an exhibit at RHS Chelsea in 2022!


Trees, hedgerow specimens and supporting planting have been chosen to benefit wildlife whilst knitting the components together to provide a coherent design. Most are native species and suitable for growth in a small garden.

Selected specimens chosen include:

Malus ‘Evereste’: This crab apple variety has a compact, stout form, with white flowers in spring followed by orange and red blushed fruits that persist into winter Good autumn colour

Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing':

A decorative cow parsley chosen for its attractive purple leaves and pink flowers which provide height and interest to borders.

Sedum matting planted in plastic-free matting and placed on the roof of a reclaimed compost bin includes Sedum album, Sedum acre, Sedum anglicum and Sedum forsterianum. Aside from supporting pollinating insects, sedum is highly drought tolerant and requires little maintenance.


Despite the garden being photographed many thousands of times by approving visitors, Michael, along with other exhibitors the Association has previously spoken to, acknowledges any commissions which arise from show gardens are likely to be many months in the future.

But like other Association members who exhibit or contribute to show gardens, this is not the impetus behind the venture. Whilst enquiries from customers may develop organically over a period of months or even years, design and/or constructing show gardens offers more tangible benefits to exhibitors.

The industry is fortunate to have ambassadors such as Michael and his peers exhibit at shows, who gently lead the future direction of the industry. Show gardens influence domestic clients and members of the industry, who are likely to be influenced by all aspects of the garden - including those of benefit to the environment.

Sustainability and the environment represent more than one challenge, which will take time and perseverance to achieve. Even a small aspect can represent a positive impact on the environment.


Biodiversity Net Gain or Big Non-Goer?

With biodiversity net gain now mandatory for large and small developments, how have stakeholders adapted to the initiative –and are the early signs promising?

Last year the Association wrote an article in Landscape News ahead of the launch of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), which cautiously welcomed the initiative on the proviso it would result in demonstrable, long-term benefits for the environment.

But landscape and the environment does not exist in a vacuum, and before the ink had dried on Landscape News, the Association had been contacted by a builder who suggested BNG was a major hurdle for developers of low volume housing projects. Soon after, Construction News magazine printed interviews with the National Federation of Builders and the Chartered Institute of Building who raised concerns about how the rules will affect developers of all sizes.

Given early signs are not great for builders, is the future rosier for landscape professionals – and what about the environment?

In this article the Association shall review the legislation launched by Defra earlier this year before discussing concerns raised by stakeholders and researchers.

The need for balance

Whilst changing the use of land is key to sustaining the growing global population and overcoming housing, food production and logistical challenges, it is also one of the main drivers of carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. Balancing the two represents a significant hurdle.

Awareness of the need to manage biodiversity loss against pressures arising from human development is not new; many historic projects have sought to ensure biodiversity conservation goes hand-in-hand with human development of land, providing the development is planned to avoid impacts and residual impacts are compensated through conservation actions.

The infancy of BNG

In England, Wales and Scotland, existing planning policy encouraged local authorities to include biodiversity improvement into new development, and many (but not all)

councils had adopted Biodiversity Net Gain policies as far back as 2018.

However, these weren’t providing the safeguards required; there were limited mechanisms to value, maintain, enhance, and create wildlife habitats other than protected sites.

In February 2023 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced the introduction of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), which required the enhancement of land so that, overall, habitats throughout England were in a better state than before development.

Under mandatory BNG, all development in England must replace any biodiversity lost and add a minimum of 10% biodiversity to provide a net gain. A BNG proposal may include elements of retained, enhanced or entirely new habitats, all of which must be secured for at least 30 years via planning obligations or conservation covenants, enforced by s106 agreements.

The scheme, introduced as part of the Environment Act 2021, amended the Town & Country Planning Act and applied to new



housing, infrastructure and commercial developments of all sizes.

Major development or small site?

Under BNG, projects are classified either as ‘major development’ or ‘small sites’. Although both require 10% net gain, the process of assessment is different.

Major development is defined as a residential project with 10 or more dwellings or sites exceeding 0.5 hectares in size, whereas small sites feature residential developments of 1 to 9 dwellings on an area of less than 1 hectare. Small commercial developments have a floor space of less than 1,000 square meters or a total site area less than 1 hectare.

Major development and small sites represent two extremes of a broad spectrum of projects fulfilled by developers throughout England. Since any development of more than 10 homes is categorised as major development, it could be argued BNG is weighted towards the major development category.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB)

has highlighted the low threshold for major development as a challenge for small and medium-sized builders, who have the same obligations when completing a development of 10 homes as much larger builders completing developments of 1000 homes.

Unlike larger developers, small and medium builders rarely have in-house knowledge to coordinate BNG, which means they must use consultants and contractors to fulfil their responsibilities. Whilst a burden for builders, this represents an opportunity for landscape and environmental professionals whose skills are likely to be in demand.

Habitat assessment by biodiversity metric

Underpinning mandatory BNG is a method of assessing habitats called the biodiversity metric. The metric, based on Microsoft Excel, will calculate how a proposed development will change the biodiversity value of an area of land, as well as the amount of ‘gain’ required. The metric uses the term ‘unit’ to define the outcome of the habitat assessment and mitigation process, and members may like to think of

biodiversity units as the currency of BNG.

The tool is designed to provide stakeholders with a means of assessing changes in biodiversity value (losses or gains) brought about by development. The system used to assess habitats differs according to the size of site: most small sites will use the ‘Small Site Metric’ whilst major development will use the ‘Statutory Site Metric’.

Information from a site survey will, when inserted into the metric, guide developers as to the level of gain required. Habitat surveys and use of the biodiversity metric must be undertaken by competent persons working on behalf of developers, before being submitted as part of a planning application and scrutinised by local planning authorities. Whilst guidance for both variants of the biodiversity metric specifies use by a ‘competent’ person, the definition of ‘competent’ differs according to the type of site. Those using the Small Site Metric are not required to consult an ecologist, and instead may choose to carry out the survey themselves or use a project manager,


landscaper or landscape architect. This presents an opportunity for members of the landscape industry.

Builders responsible for major developments are not afforded this flexibility, with an ecologist specified to perform the site assessment, use of the metric tool and advise on outputs. The implications of this for a builder are significant, since the cost of assessing a site which fits into the small site category is likely to be less than those associated with the major development category.

On-site or off-site habitat creation

Best practice guidance dictates net gains should be delivered on or close to the site where development is occurring. In addition, a ‘spatial risk multiplier’ attached to the biodiversity metric tool incentivises developers to undertake biodiversity improvements within the boundary of a development (on-site) by reducing the biodiversity value of habitats delivered away from the development.

Where on-site improvements are not possible (for example where there is not space on site for BNG units) improvements may be made off-site. The term ‘offsite’ in the context of BNG may mean on land owned by the developer, which is separate from the development site, or by purchasing units sold by third parties who have created new habitats for the purpose of selling to developers.

Feedback from the National Federation of Builders suggests limited land on small sites is leading to building developers seeking off-site units to meet BNG targets, due to lack of space for on-site habitat creation. In most cases these units are purchased from third parties as smaller developers are less likely to have the capital to purchase additional land to enable the creation of off-site BNG units. This trend is supported by peer-reviewed research reviewed by the Association during the writing of this report.

The National Federation of Builders estimate a 1% offsite BNG contribution will add £2,150 to the cost of building a home for smaller sites and £800 per home for larger sites, and forecasts BNG will place an additional burden on small and mediumsized builders.

On-site habitat creation on housing developments also poses foreseeable challenges in relation to pressure from users. Due to the proximity of housing to habitats, it is likely on-site BNG units will be used by residents (and their pets) for sports and recreation. Whilst this is likely to benefit the local community in terms of access to greenspace, excessive traffic on habitats

may result in them failing to meet the aims specified in the planning application.

Will BNG benefit the environment?

Ensuring proposed compensatory ecological gains materialise, and last for the duration of the harms they are meant to compensate for, is a challenge.

Early BNG projects reviewed by researchers suggested 51% of biodiversity units were delivered by creating new habitats, followed by 34% enhancement and 15% retention. Due to the variety of habitats created, the timescale to reach maturity varies, ranging from enhanced grassland to entirely new woodlands. Diligent maintenance carried out by knowledgeable workers is an essential component in ensuring units achieve their potential, since failure of a

habitat is likely to result in a net loss.

As with other off-setting schemes, BNG potentially incentivises developers to minimise their costs by underestimating the biodiversity impacts or seeking the least costly forms of compensation.

The BNG metric is particularly sensitive to habitat type, distinctiveness, and condition score. Therefore, to avoid sites being undervalued sufficient information must be provided in BNG assessments to ensure ecologists working for local authorities can scrutinise them.

BNG calculations previously submitted to local planning authorities as part of planning applications were reviewed by researchers to establish their accuracy. The research suggested one fifth of calculations featured a mismatch between



baseline and post-development data, resulting in many hectares of habitat being unaccounted for resulting in missed opportunities for habitat mitigation.

Monitoring key to success

Whilst BNG criteria is weighted to promote on-site biodiversity improvements above all other options, the reactive nature of English planning enforcement is poorly suited to guaranteeing the delivery of on-site habitats.

Whilst a national register serves to outline the location of sites where BNG has been implemented, there is currently no mechanism for monitoring the establishment of on-site habitats or their on-going maintenance.

Research suggests failure of developers to deliver on-site units to the condition stipulated in a planning application is unlikely to meet the threshold for enforcement –and relies on councils being suitably staffed to monitor compliance. This is a concern, as 85% of development sites reviewed by researchers delivered BNG on-site.

Opportunities for the industry –and, hopefully, the environment

The Association acknowledge BNG is still in its infancy and foresee opportunity for Defra and Natural England to refine the system, particularly in relation to scrutinising applications and ensuring units are delivered as promised. The Association hope the blind spots identified will be addressed, to ensure the system functions as intended.

Whilst the scope of the small site metric is currently limited to developments of just 9 houses, the ability of landscapers to play a role in assessing these sites and deliver BNG units is a key opportunity for the landscape industry to upskill staff and diversify services, which the Association shall seek to guide members on.

The Association also recognises opportunity for further change which will benefit members and the environment. On smaller sites where space is at a premium, extending the scope of BNG to account for smaller on-site features could provide gains for local wildlife. For example, members already offer products which combine SuDS and integrated habitats capable of supporting small mammals, amphibians, microorganisms, and invertebrates.

Skilled implementation combined with considered maintenance is key to ensuring BNG delivers the gains specified during the planning stage. Whilst researching this article, the Association identified several sources suggesting new skillsets are required to ensure modern environments are managed for the benefit of biodiversity. The Association acknowledges its role in ensuring its members are confident delivering a new generation of landscapes.


IBorder Target Operating Model

n April 2024, new measures which apply when importing plants and plant products into Great Britain were introduced as part of The Border Target Operating Model (BTOM). Viewed critically, the measures have replaced frictionless trade with increased paperwork, burdensome inspections, and higher costs for the entire supply chain.

But what if the implications of not introducing stricter measures, particularly in relation to biosecurity, ended up costing the industry - and the economy - more money in the long term? How should the government ensure greater protection from pests and diseases, without stifling the industry with higher commodity prices and longer lead times?

In this article I shall review the reasons for the introduction of the new importing regime and what this means for the landscape and horticulture industry. Taking back control of…pests and diseases?

Migration of people was a defining issue in the UK’s referendum on European Union (EU) membership in 2016, with many voters believing departure from the EU presented an opportunity for the UK to establish its own controls on movement of people into the country.

The introduction of BTOM is a consequence of Brexit and represents a version of migration control - but rather than people, controls have been placed on movement of animals and plants with the intention of reducing the risk posed by accidentally imported pests and diseases.

The UKs departure from the EU has been used as an opportunity to create a new importation system which the government hopes will balance the need for effective protection against pests and diseases, whilst retaining freedom of supply chains and business interests.

The resulting BTOM is distinct from the system used by Great Britain when it was a member of the EU – and continues to be used by existing EU members.

The background

Prior to the introduction of BTOM, plants and plant materials enjoyed freedom of movement into the UK, in the sense that potted or bare-root material could leave a nursery from a European country with a plant health certificate and be entering the ground in Great Britain within a few days.

This ease of movement benefitted importers and users of material alike, by enabling what Association member and managing director of Provender Nurseries, Richard McKenna, has previously described

as the Amazon Prime effect, such was the potential speed of goods delivery.

Customers became accustomed to the wide range of high-quality plants available from growers throughout Europe, as well as the competitive prices that arose from economies of scale.

Of more importance to retailers, is the fact that demand for plants and planting materials from commercial and domestic users in the UK exceeds what can be propagated, grown or manufactured within the UK. Despite progression towards being self-sufficient, delivery of plants and plant materials in the quantity, quality and variety expected by UK consumers currently relies on the continued support of suppliers in Europe and beyond - and is likely to continue.

As a result, a significant proportion of plants and planting materials used by domestic and commercial consumers in the UK started life in the European Union –or perhaps even further afield.

Why the need for change?

The importation of live plants, plant material, soil and packaging, increases the risk of introducing invasive non-native species, pests, and diseases to UK shores. The introduction of several pathogens including Phytopthora, ash dieback,


oak processionary moth and Asian longhorn beetle, all of which have been detected in the UK, are believed to have been introduced via commercial imports. Aside from obvious consequences such as damage to native plants and disruption to businesses within the landscape industry, less obvious impacts can burrow deep into the economy and incur severe financial and ecosystem damage on the UK economy.

Ash dieback or Chalara is a disease of ash trees familiar to members of the landscape industry, which is caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. It is believed the fungus was first introduced to Europe on commercially imported ash trees in the 1990s and has since spread throughout Europe. Chalara was first identified in the UK in 2012 and is expected to kill 80% of all specimens in the country. After taking into account felling and replanting, ash dieback is estimated to cost the UK economy £883.5 million per year, with an estimated total cost in the region of £15 billion.

In the EU, data suggests the number of plant diseases increased by an average rate

of 70 per year between 2015 and 2020. Most members will be aware of Xylella which, since being discovered in Puglia, Italy, in 2013, has killed a third of the regions 60 million olive trees and cost the country 1 billion euros. There is currently no known cure for Xylella which, mercifully, has not become established in the UK.

What can the industry do –and is it enough?

Members of the supply chain can adopt practices to help interrupt the spread of pests and diseases, and the Association advocates precautions including purchasing material from reputable retailers, as well as practicing good biosecurity measures.

However, these measures are not foolproof; research highlights the arrival of infected plants from overseas as a significant risk to UK biosecurity. Pathogens cannot be detected by the naked eye, and due to the volume of materials being imported the risk of accidental introduction remains high.

The economics of managing pests and diseases dictates it is cheaper to

prevent the introduction of new pests and diseases rather than manage them once established. It is for this reason the UK government has led the development of a more stringent importing regime in the form of BTOM.

The solution

To moderate the risk posed to industry and wider economy, measures were required to present a more robust front against pest and disease. The BTOM has been developed to include electronic documentary checks combined with physical checks at UKbased facilities called Border Control Posts (BCP) on selected goods.

Under this system, regulated plants and plant products from outside the UK have been categorised into high, medium, and low risk categories. The higher the risk category, the more biosecurity assurances will be required. This means some plants and goods will be prohibited from entering the United Kingdom entirely, whereas others will undergo inspection frequencies deemed to be proportionate to the risk posed.



Under BTOM, all plants for planting, certain seeds and timber are categorised as high-risk goods. This means selected species may be removed from a lorry trailer to facilitate detailed inspection by authorised staff at border control posts, before being reloaded to continue their journey.

Although BCP already existed in the UK before the introduction of the BTOM, new facilities and systems have been developed to cater for the increased demand and logistical challenges associated with offloading plants and plant materials from lorries, inspecting them and reloading them in the shortest time possible. Even checks on a small percentage of goods requires significant investment in facilities to prevent severe delays to deliveries.

There is currently just one Governmentowned facility where inspections on goods may be completed – in Sevington, Kent – which meets the necessary criteria for inspection. The remaining BCP are run as commercial enterprises.

This arrangement presents 2 challenges to importers:

1. There is no obligation for existing BCP operators to undertake changes to accommodate plant and plant materials; failure to meet specified criteria will simply mean operators are not authorised to handle imported plants and plant products. This potentially affords importers fewer options when importing goods.

2. The price charged by BCP varies between facility, but also according to the services required by the BCP, which means importers must consider the cost of using facilities when pricing goods at the end of the supply chain.

Many BCP operators charge importers according to the proportion of cargo requiring unloading/inspection, which means importers will not know the extent of inspection required until the goods are in transit.

Early teething issues or the new normal?

Despite assurances from Defra that sufficient facilities and inspectors would be appointed to cater for demand, stakeholders whose business model relies on the swift, reliable importation of plants and plant materials voiced concerns from the early stages of BTOM development.

The concerns focussed on several aspects of the new system:

1. The additional cost likely to be levied onto the industry as a result of the new system

2. Competence of staff at BCPs to ensure goods selected for inspection are not damaged during unloading and loading, and to ensure goods are correctly reloaded

3. Infrastructure available at facilities ensures perishable goods held for inspection do not suffer through poor care i.e. Adequate water, temperature control

Early feedback from members who have used the new system suggest there have been problems and supply chains have been affected.

Stakeholders have reported instances of plants and trolleys (used to transport smaller plants) being damaged during unloading or reloading, which has resulted in material being damaged upon arrival to the customer.

Some commercial ports have refused to bear any liability for loss or damage to cargo which arise during inspections, or if cargo cannot be fully restowed into the original cargo unit. As a result, some importers are now avoiding ports who refuse liability.

Costs charged by commercial facilities vary widely according to the level of inspection required. Predictably, higher costs will be charged where full loads must be removed – and this cost will be passed on to customers. There is a fear that, in the long term, nurseries or wholesalers who import lower volumes of stock will be priced out the market due to the increased cost of importing materials.

Behind the scenes, those responsible for managing the coordination of paperwork and movement of lorries have found the new system very challenging in the early stages. Aside from delays to movement of materials, the computer systems introduced to manage the movement of materials demand greater time than before.

Sledgehammer to crack a nut or the only viable solution?

There are similarities between tackling biosecurity and climate change; both necessitate disrupting established habits for benefits that may be difficult to quantify when the measures are introduced. Both also work on long time frames.

As with climate change, money is also at stake; it is almost certainly cheaper to continue along established paths in the short-term, when new methods or technology are in their infancy and therefore more expensive to adopt.

The Association regards the measures taken as part of the BTOM system as necessary and proportional to the risk posed by pests and diseases, and acknowledges significant costs are likely to arise if pests and diseases become established in the UK.

However, the Association believes all reasonable measures should be taken to ensure any new system is refined prior to release. Feedback from stakeholders suggests the transition to the new system has not been smooth, and refining the system will take time and greater investment from government to ensure importers are not disadvantaged. Until this time, stakeholders are likely to suffer from higher costs, longer delivery windows and potentially damaged stock.

The refinement necessary to deliver a better system could have been trialled prior to the widespread adoption of the new system.

The Association is disappointed by the implementation of BTOM, and particularly the burden placed on importers of materials. The Association regard the teething issues reported by members as foreseeable, and that a phased approach to introducing the system likely to have avoided the issues raised.

The Association will continue to work with members and Government to address the issues raised.

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IEstimating: leveraging bespoke software

n today's rapidly evolving business landscape the integration of software and technology has become indispensable for streamlining processes, and the landscape industry is no exception. Ricky Whiteman, BALI Student Director and Head of Estimating at Gavin Jones (North), shares his insights into the benefits and potential drawbacks of contemporary tools for landscape estimating.

Since starting his career in landscape estimating back in 2011, Ricky has transitioned between three tools: handwritten, Microsoft Excel and, most recently, bespoke estimating software packages.

This experience reflects the wider estimating profession which, over the past 40 years, has undergone a period of significant change. Whilst the function of estimating remains the same, the tools, day-to-day job activities and approach has changed dramatically.

The 1980s and 90s represented the period when hand-written documents and drawings were replaced with electronic spreadsheets and Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings. This sped-up traditional methods of cost allocation and calculation, although the process of manual take-offs using either marked-up drawings or CAD drawings, remained. For Ricky, methods which relied on combining written or printed data with spreadsheets provided him with knowledge and insight into how the estimating process works.

Of course, accurate assessment of sites and collation of costs using drawings and

spreadsheets rely on a comprehensive understanding of the landscape construction processes including hard and soft landscape material selection and specification, and subsequent allocation of costs to each aspect of a project.

Whilst software packages do not negate the need for an underlying understanding of landscape construction principles, software packages can speed-up many other aspects associated with the estimating process whilst offering unparalleled efficiency and accuracy for both the estimating team and contract managers.

In addition, between 1980 and the present day the variety of (mostly electric) tools available to the estimator has increased significantly and may now include takeoff tools, databases, cost analysis, value engineering tools and even carbon trackers.

The importance of accurate estimating

When it comes to landscaping estimates, several key factors need to be considered. These factors play a significant role in determining the overall cost of a project and can vary depending on the specific requirements of each job. Accurate estimation allows you to set realistic expectations for your client, ensure profitability, and maintain cash flow. It also helps to avoid potential issues during the project and enhances credibility of your business.

Underestimating the time and resources required can lead to delays, cost overruns and client dissatisfaction. Conversely, overestimating can make contractors less competitive and deter clients.

For busy landscape professionals, estimating demands an investment in time that may be overlooked amongst the myriad of day-to-day tasks associated with a project.

The Association, through its dispute resolution service, has seen examples of where inaccurate estimating has led to problems later in a project. For example, cost over-runs in projects have arisen when members failed to keep pace with the escalating cost of landscape materials. In some cases, members have under-priced works to their own detriment.

From Ricky’s experience, the benefit of using estimating software minimises these risks. However, the software is a tool to use within the estimation process, rather than the process itself. Knowledge and experience of estimating is critical to ensure the effective use of software.

Regardless of business turnover or project value, the Association suggests members reflect on their current estimating method and consider the benefits of using a new approach. Whilst members’ budget is likely to vary, even a small investment or slightly different approach may yield considerable benefits to a business’s profitability.

The benefits of using estimating software

There are some key benefits to using estimating software. One of the most significant advantages for Ricky lies in the time efficiencies gained from automation. With the capability to preload costings and upload drawings and specifications with a simple click, estimating software drastically


reduces the time spent on repetitive manual processes. This not only enables faster responses to tenders, but also enhances data accuracy, minimising the need for rework and ensuring right-firsttime pricing. An added benefit to the time saving efficiencies is the ability to respond to more tenders and win more work!

Plus, having a built-in communications system allows estimators to send multiple emails with automated follow up correspondence, which not only saves time, but helps manage deadlines and track the progress of projects.

The flexibility of these systems is an additional key benefit. Using a cloud-based solution gives the ability to make realtime adjustments during client meetings, allowing the estimator to see the impact of the changes on price and time immediately, allowing a more collaborative approach to working together to find solutions. This enhances service delivery to clients, as well as providing budget management flexibility.

Using a cloud-based system offers added flexibility and collaboration opportunities. It enables teams to easily work across multiple sites/offices, as well as remotely. This functionality enables cost analysis across different regions and collaboration on projects. It also gives visibility of different supplier costs providing the estimator an understanding of market forces to negotiate better pricing.


As with any software, there are always drawbacks to consider.

One concern when using cloud-based

software is the vulnerability to cyberattacks, data security breaches and disaster recovery. Mitigating these risks requires selecting robust software during the procurement process. Ensuring potential suppliers have Cyber Essentials certification, a government-backed initiative, safeguards your organisation - regardless of its sizeagainst the most common cyber-attacks. This certification also reassures your customers and suppliers that you take data security seriously.

A key consideration, and in many cases, the key reason bespoke software is not used is the initial investment of the software and any associated licence fees. These can sometimes feel prohibitive, but must be included in any business case when scoping out the requirements of any software so the return on investment (ROI) can be evaluated - will the time saving benefits and increased number of tenders responded to outweigh the investment?

As well as financial investment, the time investment of training staff on how to use the software is an additional consideration. Although the potential long term time savings can outweigh the initial training time, this needs to be included when evaluating the ROI. This element also includes financial investment – do you train staff in house, or would prefer the software company to provide as part of the service offering element of the software?

Finally, another drawback to estimating software is it can be difficult to move from one system provider to another, so it is acutely important to select a provider that is able to adapt and make changes from

the outset.

Having undertaken manual estimating using spreadsheets, as well as estimating software, Ricky’s preference is for an estimating package. In his experience, the benefits from using estimating software packages significantly outweigh the disadvantages.

Selection of the correct provider is critical, ensuring that they must be able to react quickly to any development changes. You can’t replace human knowledge and the personal touch and as such, Ricky encourage his team to meet with suppliers and visit jobs to deepen their understanding, which in turn gives an advantage on securing the works package.

Accredited Supplier member, Landpro, offer a range of estimating and cost management services to landscape contractors and garden designers, including quantity surveying, cost feasibility studies and cost management.

Landpro also offer estimating software for garden designers and landscape contractors, which is widely used by industry leaders.


Unlock the potential of your BALI membership

The Association is proud of the wide range of benefits we provide to our members. But can they really benefit member individuals and organisations? Here we look at what we believe are some core benefits of being an Association member and what it actually means for members.

Shape the future of the industry

As an industry, we are increasingly moving into the spotlight, playing a pivotal role in bolstering climate change targets, as well as the wellbeing of individuals with the creation and maintenance of green spaces.

The Association works with and on behalf of members, promoting the industry and lobbying to resolve issues and drive change at Government level. We also work with our members, both individually and through our forums, leading the way to raise industry standards, promote and share best practice, and develop guidance to support safe working practices.

As a member, you can be part of driving this agenda. Get involved in our forums and working groups to input into focus topics, to ensure we focus on what’s important to you.

We have increased our commitment driving positive change, with the recent appointment of Tom Edwards as our new Head of Policy and Public Affairs. This is a critical role in the Association, providing a primary point of contact for Government, regulatory bodies as well as for members to co-ordinate BALI responses on behalf of members to ensure all voices are heard.

Be recognised as best in class

Becoming an Accredited member of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) will set you apart in an increasingly competitive environment. Our Accreditation is a recognised hallmark of quality and competence, providing your business partners with assurance and prospective clients with peace of mind that their project is in safe hands.

By embracing the Association’s accreditation and proudly displaying the logo, members not only enhance their credibility but also contribute to a marketplace built on trust, transparency, and a shared commitment to excellence.

The Association continues to promote the benefits of using a vetted, accredited member to the general public, highlighting the quality assurance, knowledge and experience members have.

Benefit from the member community

Being part of this community allows you to deepen your professional network, identify new business opportunities as a subcontractor, preferred contractor or supplier, and potential future collaborations. It also allows you to receive professional support and advice, directly from the Association team, as well as from other members.

The Association hosts a range of events throughout the year, both nationally and regionally, designed to inspire, inform and interact. Our range of regional events provides you the opportunity to keep up-to-date with industry trends and

developments, create new contacts, and visit some inspiring green spaces.

Advice and support just an email away

No matter the size of a business, keeping up to date with changes in legislation and regulations can be difficult. The introduction of BNG regulations, an increased focus on plant health, and the conservation of natural resources have all led to the introduction of new rules associated with the industry.

Our Technical Officer is passionate about supporting members and being able to respond and inform on industry-specific queries. This can be anything from major regulation changes that have the potential to severely impact the whole industry, such as the changes to red diesel regulations; seasonal queries, such as water temporary use ban guidance; to assisting in developing codes of practice.

With contacts across a range of government and industry bodies, including HMRC, HSE, Defra, VOSA, National Highways, and APHA; and access to Association members, Owen can pull from a vast range of resources to assist members.

The membership team is always available to help and advise members of their benefits and signpost them in the right direction. For further information, please contact the membership team at or call 024 7669 0333.


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Think that Landscape Apprenticeships are only for young people?

Whether you are looking to take on older, new entrants to the industry or to improve the skills of your existing workforce, adult apprenticeships should be something you consider as a flexible pathway for individuals of all ages to acquire new skills and qualifications.

But really there is no such thing as an adult apprenticeship. Although research suggests that two thirds of the UK workforce believe they are too old to become an apprentice and that the age barrier is between 16-24, the industry’s current suite of apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16 living in England and have no upper age limit. In fact, in 2023 over 75% of apprentices were over the age of 19!

There can be little doubt that Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly important route into the industry for many young people. The commitment from Government, awarding organisations, training providers and businesses to developing and promoting apprenticeships has seen apprenticeships being viewed as a valued and important route into the landscaping sector.

Apprenticeships already offer young people a great opportunity to gain skills and knowledge about an industry and earn while they learn and can be a rewarding alternative to University. For businesses and employers in the industry apprenticeships are becoming highly valued as delivering quality training which has knowledge and practical skills at its heart.

Even though much of the focus is on how Apprenticeships can benefit young people coming into the industry, career changers or those already in the industry looking to progress their career, an apprenticeship may be exactly what is needed to help need to help fulfil their ambitions.

As the job market changes, an adult apprenticeship offers an excellent way for an older learner to retrain and gain the skills and to begin or progress on their next career journey.

So not considering an adult apprenticeship may be a missed opportunity for those workers and the businesses who stand to gain from improved skills in the workplace.

What Apprenticeships are available?

One of the reasons why apprenticeships have become an important and valued route into the sector is because employers have been at the heart of apprenticeship development through their involvement with Trailblazer Groups. These groups have been, and continue to be, responsible for writing the standards and assessment plans which underpin them as well as providing evidence to help determine the funding levels for the apprenticeship. BALI has been involved in the landscaping and horticulture group since its start and continues to ensure that the views and needs of the landscaping sector are reflected in the current standards and in any review process.

As part of this process, the trailblazer group works to ensure that apprenticeships meet the demands of both employers and learners. While there remains a common misconception that apprenticeships are only for young people the development of apprenticeship standards at different levels has been pursued to not only ensure that there are appropriate progression routes but also that they can provide for more mature learners, or those already


in employment, opportunities to further develop their knowledge, skills, and careers.

The talk about levels trips lightly off the tongues of those closely involved in the qualifications “industry” but can still be a bit of a mystery to those not dealing with these things on a daily basis. In the landscaping sector, apprenticeships have been developed at Level 2, 3 and 5. In England, Level 2 qualifications broadly correspond to GCSEs, Level 3 to A Levels and Level 5 to a Higher National Diploma or Foundation Degree.

The Landscape Operative Apprenticeship is at level 2 and learners who embark on this apprenticeship will gain a broad understanding of the basic of the industry – whether they specialise on the soft or hard elements of the landscaping sector.

At level 3 there is the Landscaping Supervisor apprenticeship which gives learners the skills and knowledge to plan, oversee and carry out horticultural or landscaping operations to create and maintain horticultural spaces.

Finally, at level 5, is the Landscaping Manager apprenticeship which has been designed to give learners the skills and knowledge to develop, build and manage parks, gardens, greenspaces and grounds. This includes planning the site, engaging with clients, customers and visitors, financial management and possible income generation. It also prepares apprentices to deal with staff and contractors, prepare and manage budgets and interact with a wide range of partners and other stakeholders.

So, you can see that not only is there a clear progression route from Operative, to Supervisor and to Manager but also that the higher-level apprenticeships are geared for those with experience in the sector who might be looking to gain promotion or more responsibilities as part of their career advancement.

How do I go about it?

Whether you are taking on a career changer on a Level 2 Apprenticeship or looking to upskill some of your existing workforce through the level 3 or level 5 route, there are some steps that you will need to take to deliver the apprenticeship.

You will need to register with the Apprenticeship Service as an employer. This will allow you to advertise vacancies, choose your training provider who will deliver your preferred apprenticeship, access funding and provide feedback on the apprenticeship.

This can be a tricky process and we are aware of employers who have found some of the registration process somewhat

overwhelming and burdensome. However, please don’t be dissuaded as it is an essential step to finding and employing apprentices. Going forward, BALI is planning to provide some dedicated guidance for employers on navigating the Apprenticeship Service website.

Apprentices are employed so will need all the usual paperwork associated with taking on any member of staff but may also need additional support and mentoring. Finally, there will also need to be a signed agreement between the employer, the apprentice, and your chosen training provider.

What else might I need to think about?

As you are employing the apprentice, you may be paying a higher wage for an adult than you would for younger apprentices. This needs to be weighed against the other benefits that the adult apprentice may bring with them – transferrable skills and experiences from their previous roles, for example – but it is something that you will need to consider.

Something a little more difficult might be convincing existing employees that undertaking a higher-level apprenticeship is a legitimate and worthwhile way for them to gain the new skills that they need to advance their career. But given the skills shortage in the industry, the aging workforce and the flexibility that an apprenticeship can offer in how the learning is delivered, it is a conversation worth having and one supported by

the Government which has said that taking on an apprenticeship as an adult is perfectly legitimate and should be “welcomed and supported”.

Adult apprenticeships offer a real opportunity to help to improve the quality and range of opportunities available to your employees within their career and they and your business will benefit from the continued learning.

Finally, you will need to think about what the plans are for your apprentice. If you’re taking on a career changer, what would be their next steps for progression within your business, if the apprentice is already in your business, what are your plans to use the new skills that they have learnt on their apprenticeship?

This is particularly important as apprenticeships offer the opportunity to bring in new talent and ideas onto your business and, research has shown, improves staff retention rates and, according to 92% of employers consulted, sees an increase in employee motivation and satisfaction.


A look at what’s to come

Confirmed dates for industry shows and events in 2024. Correct at time of print. For the most up-to-date listings visit

25 June

2 – 7 July

4 July

9 July

17 July

17 – 21 July

29 August

6 September

Regional event: Knepp Estate Walled Garden tour

RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

Regional event: Rochfords International Rose Trials

Regional event: Get to know your region at Nethergate Brewery

Regional event: Boningale Nursery

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

Regional event: Blabers Hall Wine Estate

Regional event: Kew Gardens

10 September National AGM

10 – 11 September Trade show: GroundsFest

15 - 16 October Trade show: FutureScape London

30 – 31 October Trade show: SALTEX

6 December National Landscape Awards

Biggest wellbeing survey for UK horticulture industry launched

Perennial, the charity dedicated to supporting people in horticulture, is proud to announce the launch of its largest ever survey to gain a snapshot into the wellbeing of those working in the industry.

The charity wants to understand more about people’s daily lives, both inside and outside of work, and the pressures they may be facing - not only to develop their

services but to inform others within the industry on the key issues and challenges being faced.

The anonymous survey will run until the end of June and is open to all sectors within horticulture. The results will be analysed and reported on by the University of Exeter and the findings shared with the industry this coming autumn.

By sharing the survey findings, Perennial aims to support and empower the industry to take proactive steps to address such identified challenges. While acknowledging that not all issues can be solved singlehandedly, Perennial believes in adopting a collaborative approach and working in partnership with the horticulture sector for positive change.

Julia Hayne, Perennial’s Director of Services, emphasised the importance of sector collaboration, stating, “The research will enable us to formulate more effective tools and support strategies to enhance wellbeing now and into the future. It’s a further step towards achieving our vision of building better futures for people working in horticulture and their families.”

Open to all who work in or have worked in horticulture, everyone is encouraged to take the time to complete the survey and to share with colleagues and friends.



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