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I saw this tweet last week –
I had not heard of these gardens so went travelling with Google. What I found was astounding. An enormously beautiful rooftop garden bigger & better than I could have imagined.
The building, ‘Derry & Toms Department Store’ was opened in 1933. Between 1936-1938 a very progressive Landscape Architect even in today’s terms, Ralph Hancock created the gardens at a cost of £25,000. This was a fortune in those days, but the gardens have repaid the outlay cost many times over.
A Tree Preservation Order was placed on the trees in 1976 & English Heritage listed The Roof Gardens in 1978. Sir Richard Branson bought the building & gardens in 1981.
There are 3 themed gardens spread over 1.5 acres of rooftop. From the website -
1. “Spanish Garden: Based on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, this garden has a distinct Moorish flavour.
2. Tudor Garden: This garden is filled with evergreen shrubs surrounded by fragrant lilies, roses & lavender in the summer months, while wisteria fills the air with its delicate fragrance.
3. English Woodland: This is undoubtedly at its best in the spring months, when thousands of narcissus, crocus, muscari & anemones burst into life. Here you will also find Bill, Ben, Splosh & Pecks – our four resident flamingos. We also have a number of resident ducks which all have clipped wings to keep them within the safe confines of our unique habitat.”
The English Woodland garden has over 30 species of trees growing in 1-metre of soil. Many of the trees are the originals planted back in the 1930s. The resident ducks, fish & flamingos live in a stream….with pond….& over 100 trees….growing on a roof!
The Roof Gardens website has a slideshow of photos throughout the gardens – http://www.roofgardens.virgin.com/en/the_roof_gardens/gallery/the_gardens
You can also watch a video The Roof Gardens, Kensington High Street, London here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oYZRoymYuo (2.44 minutes) &
The Kensington Roof Garden – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyMK1RP1yvY (1 minute).
This is another place for my Bucket List. Please send donations to the SoT Benevolent Society.
Last stop on Marrickville Council’s Water Sensitive Urban Design tour was an old factory in St Peters. The owners Ricci & Judi have renovated the building into a residence with separate space for artists’ studios. The building is thought to be built in the 1870s & to support this theory, a 1872-penny was found under the front door foundation during renovations. This property has a number of amazing features & after reading the information sheet handed out by Council staff, I know I have missed things during our visit.
On the ground floor, where trucks would have once made deliveries, they have kept parking space, but have made a green wall & suspended a water tank 3 metres above the ground & against a wall. The green wall is lovely to look at & is watered by a well thought out drip-feeding system. Rainwater from the 200 square metre roof of the property is captured into 2 rainwater tanks. The first has a 3,500 litre capacity & feeds the 5 toilets & the washing machine. Another 1,000 litre tank captures the overflow from the first tank & the water is used for the garden areas.
Water is pumped from the rainwater tanks to the rooftop garden. Here there are tough native plants & trees plus a vegetable garden that is growing well. After watering the plants here, the rainwater filters through a series of pipes to water the vertical garden & an onsite rain garden. Any overflow leaves the property to eventually flow into the Cooks River. All the drip systems are hidden. You get the green feel & outlook without having to see pipes, although they wouldn’t look out of place anyway.
The rooftop garden is a delight & reinforces my desire to have these become a norm in Marrickville LGA. One other thing about green roofs that I have written about previously is that they last around 3 times longer than ordinary roof treatments so it makes economic sense to create them. In this rooftop garden, 3 layers of waterproof membrane have been installed. Planter boxes have root barriers & drainage cells are at the bottom of each planter bed. These capture rainwater & any excess is channeled to the drains & used in a garden somewhere else on the property.
Ricci & Judi have reused most of the building materials in the property for the renovation. They have even made some very nice tables from old wood on the site. Essentially, this family recycled a most of the building materials that were on the property & much of what they brought from elsewhere was also recycled.
They don’t waste any natural resources, yet manage to live in a lovely & creative environment. Although this is an industrial building in an industrial area, there are areas of great beauty.
There is much that I have not covered in all 3 properties. If you are interested in this sort of thing & want to save money & lower your carbon footprint, I highly recommend attending this free! tour. I’ll post details if I hear when a tour is available. Well done to Marrickville Council for organizing such an activity & to their staff who were friendly, helpful & made sure we were not left behind. They also watered & fed us which was an unexpected treat. Do this tour if you can.
Thank you also to the residents who kindly opened their houses for us to see. Your sharing has inspired us & shown that environmentally-friendly changes can be done around the home without too much trouble & with great outcomes.
I made a short YouTube video of this residence here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhtvOqHUl28
You can read about House Number 1 here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/water-sensitive-urban-design-tour-–-part-1/
& House Number 2 here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/water-sensitive-urban-design-tour-–-part-2/
I wrote about the benefits of green roofs here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/green-roofs/