The Royal Parks project in London, to build one of the UK’s most innovative greenhouses, nears completion. The £5 million ‘super nursery’ project will replace the old dilapidated nursery in London’s Hyde Park to create a new, state-of-the-art nursery to grow almost all the flowers and shrubs needed for the eight London Royal parks within the 5000 acre Royal Parks Estate. The ‘super nursery’ is scheduled to open this month (April 2018) when it will start saving The Royal Parks over £70,000 per year.
“The state-of-the-art building is the first major UK glasshouse to incorporate technology that allows the roof to open and close dependent on the weather to help acclimatise young plants, so they do not have to be moved outside for hardening,” explains Greg McErlean, The Royal Parks Director of Programmes and Projects.
The huge 7,180m² glasshouse, built by Deforche Construct NV and incorporating technology from Climate Controls Ltd has been divided into 13 controlled zones, each operated by Climate Controls’ latest technology, which adapts the climate according to the needs of the plants.
“The facility will allow more flexibility for our parks’ teams to be able to grow different plant varieties needed for the displays – around 450,000 plants in total.” Mark Wasilewski, Park Manager, St James’s and The Green Park says: “Having our own nursery on site where we can grow our plants to order, rather than relying on a commercial nursery, gives us flexibility to make changes as we go along, for example there are times when one variety may not grow as expected – so we can go back to the nursery and ask for a different delivery. With the nursery on our doorstep we can also shape the size of the plants throughout the season, for example to ‘pinch out’ a particular plant to make it bushier. We can also plan for the unexpected – so we can replace plants, or if we have a chance to plant an additional bed we can call the nursery to pick and mix from what’s available.”
With sustainability at the forefront of the project, the design meets the highest environmental standards. Additionally, the majority of the materials from the demolished nursery were recycled.
Greg adds: “The nursery will include a rainwater recovery system and energy-efficient LED lighting throughout. We will be saving on heating costs with a more efficient system and we are also saving on transport miles.”
The nursery is already growing plants for this year’s bedding displays in The Royal Parks and work is afoot to save and maintain some of the heritage plants that have traditionally been grown in the parks over the decades.
Mark explains: “We can work directly with our growers to cultivate rare or old varieties of plants from cuttings of particular strains to keep these varieties in the parks. For example it will help us reintroduce old cutting varieties of geranium, like ‘Lady Derby’, ‘Caroline Schmidt’ or ‘Golden Harry Hieover’ – the old varieties we just don’t want to lose.
Other examples of plants we can cultivate could include varieties of fuchsias, Calceolaria ‘Gains Yellow’ and different abutilons such as ‘Canary Bird’. We can also experiment with new varieties – the new nursery will give us this flexibility.”
For more information on London’s Royal Parks visit https://www.royalparks.org.uk/
Author: Jean Vernon
Photo credits: The Royal Parks’