The Bristol Magazine October 2017

Page 106

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HIGH LIFE Elly West hunts for ways to combine beauty with practicality in the garden


hile we all want a garden that is beautiful to look at, most of us need to use our outdoor space in a practical way as well. There are certain household items that need to be stored outside such as bins, recycling, logs, bikes and, of course, gardening tools. In nearly all the gardens I design, outdoor storage of some description is a must. But sheds and stores are not always the most attractive garden items and many are positive eyesores. One way to resolve the problem is to hide them away, grow plants in front, cover them with trellis, or paint them in an attractive colour. Or, another idea that is gaining in popularity is to incorporate a shed or store with a ‘green roof’. A green roof is just that – a roof overlaid with a growing medium to create a habitat for plants. They are also sometimes known as living roofs, and are great in small gardens or front gardens where growing space is at a premium, as they provide another area for plants. In Germany, green roofs have been popular since the 1960s, helping to combat global warming and blending new houses into the countryside. Millions of square metres of green roof have been going up every year, with an estimated 10 per cent of all German flat roofs having been ‘greened’. And in the UK they’re catching on as well, with planning authorities increasingly looking for sustainable design. A green roof is an environmentally friendly choice as it can potentially trap large quantities of rainwater that would otherwise go straight into the drainage system – helping to alleviate flooding. The plants are also doing their bit to transform carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, into oxygen. In theory, a roof can provide a home for just about any type of plant, with the right structure and reinforcement, as 90 THE BRISTOL MAGAZINE




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indicated by entire gardens raised up into the skyline. But for most of us, we might just want to prettify an existing shed or introduce a new outdoor building with a green roof. If you do decide to have a go, just make sure your structure is well supported for the additional weight of soil, water and plants, which could be in excess of 50kg per square metre. Adding a green roof to your garden is a great way to add interest, colour and create a focal point (as well as a talking point) and it doesn’t have to be large scale or complicated. Creeping varieties of sedums are ideal for covering a small roof as they’re low-growing and low-maintenance. With their fleshy, evergreen leaves, they’re extremely drought tolerant, and many flower at different times of the year, giving seasonal interest with a carpet of pinks, yellows and reds. A quick online search for ‘sedum roof’, and the popularity of sedums becomes obvious. You’re spoilt for choice with the various companies offering ready-to-roll-out sedum matting, supplied in a similar way to turf. Many boast 16 or so different varieties in their turf (try, where rolls of matting cost £17.50 per square metre). A more expensive option is to buy the plants in cells or modules, where they come with the different layers required for proper drainage. Or, of course, you can just take a trip to the garden centre and choose plants you like in the ‘alpine’ section. Small bulbs will also do well on a green roof, as long as it is properly drained. Dave Morgan’s Bluum Stores, based in Backwell, creates green roof stores and bespoke, custom-built projects. Dave was inspired by his own need to find an attractive solution for outdoor storage. “When I was building my house, it was part of the planning conditions to have a store for the bins,” he explains. “I couldn’t find one I liked, so decided to make one

Above: Sedums are the perfect choice for a green roof, thriving in poor or minimal soil and requiring virtually no maintenance Opposite page: Bluum in Backwell are making some lovely ‘green roofed’ storage options