Sprinklers and maintenance systems that work via an app, paving slabs that can turn toxins into soil nutrients and a single plant that can hoover up a flowerbed’s worth of pollution are just some of the innovations that Darlington-based landscape architecture company Heartland Creative is introducing to projects throughout Yorkshire and the North East.
Managing Director Tamsin Harrison, whose past work includes practical yet pretty traffic barriers in Bishop Auckland and a variety of landscaping projects for individuals, councils and developers, is passionate about researching the latest technologies on the market, helping her clients to both save money and generate income from land.
Technology is cleverly woven into the overall design plans for gardens, allowing for a seamless integration between stylish exteriors and the latest technological advances. ‘The idea behind the “smart gardens” is that nobody notices the innovation happening around them unless that is the explicit intent, for instance with the use of VR info points,’ explains Tamsin.
The latest Heartland Creative project to incorporate the technology is the transformation of Nunthorpe’s Upsall Hall, which will stylishly interweave influences from across the globe into one flowing and relaxed outdoor living space.
‘It really was a blank canvas to work from, having spent years being used for function as opposed to aesthetic,’ Tamsin says.
‘We have incorporated influences that range from Tuscan-inspired pizza ovens and outdoor party areas to Nordic-influenced hot-tubs and, of course, the traditional English rose garden.
‘Each area is tied together both through common motifs and through the common use of the maintenance app, helping the grounds staff to easily monitor and control everything, from the temperature of the water, to the soil nutrients in the rose beds to the filtering of the swimming lakes.
‘While Upsall Hall is a large-scale example, the technology that is being developed can be used everywhere, from individual gardens to large-scale housing developments. New products are constantly emerging, including using Oculus Rift headsets for planning permission and roads that can repurpose kinetic energy from cars to power street lights. This isn’t a far-fetched hypothesis or imaginative flight of fancy, it’s innovation that is an option today.
‘Making clever use of technology can save any landowner time and money, helping ensure future sustainability for many years to come.’
To help ensure the Upsall Hall regeneration project is ecological and organic from the outset, Heartland Creative brought on board organic gardening company Mossy Rock.
The team at Mossy Rock pride themselves on their biodiverse approach to garden and landscaping projects, taking a chemical-free approach to projects and developing care programs which promote soil health and safe environments.
Speaking about the Upsall Hall project, Director Ben Barnard explains: ‘The plans Tamsin drew up were very exciting and it’s great that from the very beginning she wanted the approach to be natural and organic.
‘We’ve introduced a number of recommendations into the project including the renovation of a natural pond which will be self-filtering and aerating. Natural ponds not only provide a safe haven for a range of wildlife and insects but, with the right management, can also produce water that is cleaner than mains drinking water without much effort.’
Mossy Rock also looked at ensuring the long-term health of the garden by encouraging insect activity via the use of nature areas and strips around the grounds and the wooded areas. The activity helps in both removing the need for insecticide control within the garden and creating a biodiverse aspect to the grounds; both elements support pollinators and marsupials, often neglected in grounds planning and management.
‘Our ethos is to look after the environment by listening to what it is telling us and working with it, for instance favouring organic bio-diverse farming over chemically-based monoculture,’ says Ben. ‘This intuitive approach allows us to achieve equilibrium with the surrounding environment which will almost look after itself.
‘Our management and maintenance techniques are innovative, and we’re unique in the lengths that we go to in order to keep gardens and grounds properly. The result is a diverse, healthy and lively area that requires minimal maintenance and only occasional, seasonal investment. The soil is healthy, the wildlife is healthy and in balance and the users of the environment are healthy, happy and will notice the dramatic difference between our gardens and a chemically-maintained garden that many people readily turn to.’