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Groundbreaking show garden to empower gardeners to address national water crisis

11 Jun 2024 | BALI Member News

A garden at this year’s BBC Gardeners’ World Live designed by innovative landscaper, Joshua Fenton, is exploring how individuals can play a small yet pivotal role in addressing the national concern about sewage overflows and water scarcity.

The Lunatica Garden, which is set to be on show at the four-day event from 13 to 16 June at the NEC in Birmingham, explores how the UK’s gardeners can rethink rainwater use. Joshua Fenton, who owns landscaping business Fenton Garden, designed the garden with the current climate crisis in mind, as water quality and quantity dominate headlines.

With storms and sewage overflows a key topic among both the Labour and Liberal Democrats parties’ election campaigns, Joshua is using the showpiece event to challenge the way visitors design their gardens, ensuring rainwater use is central. Josh achieves this by attending to how water moves through the garden, crafting a series of interconnected rainwater solutions from roof to ground level.

The garden’s buildings are cladded with clover green roofs that slow and disperse rainwater. Rainwater is channelled off the paving via Accredited Supplier ACO’s discreet Threshold Drain into a passive irrigation system beneath the surface of the garden, made up from ACO’s RoofBloxx geocellular units. The water stored in this underground tank then feeds the plants in the garden above, allowing them to wick up the water in drier periods. Water then overflows into a plunge pool, which doubles as a rainwater harvesting tank, before being dispersed into the ground onsite.

The five interconnected solutions to manage rainwater en-route replace the more common single, larger solution at the end – often a soakaway. In this way Josh delivers irrigation for drier periods as well as holding and dispersing excess rainwater from a downpour. Above all Josh’s design keeps rainwater out of the sewer and stores it for reuse in the garden.

Joshua said: “Too much rainwater is wasted and ends up in our sewers. It’s a serious problem that is only starting to be widely understood, and often it’s thought of as water companies’ responsibility to fix the nation’s water quality issue. I wanted to show how we, as individuals, can also take action to help reduce the volume and slow down the rate in at which rainwater enters our sewers.

"The Lunatica garden explores how people can take action to help reuse rainwater.  By making small changes, we can make a long-term impact on the environment while still being able to have beautifully landscaped spaces. I hope people leave the show feeling inspired that they can make a difference, even if it’s as simple as building a small reservoir in the garden."

Angus Crichton, Marketing Manager at ACO House and Garden, said:

"ACO is delighted to support Josh’s challenge on how we use rainwater in our properties. The garden is a masterclass in sustainable rainwater design, using plants and soil to slow and disperse rainwater, supported by ACO products to channel water to store for reuse. There are rainwater solutions for us to take home, so we can become part of the solution to our national water crisis."

Once BBC Gardeners’ World Live comes to a close, the Lunatica garden will be donated to ellenor – a hospice charity providing palliative and end-of-life care to people with life-limiting illnesses in Kent and Bexley. The garden will be installed at ellenor hospice’s brand-new Wellbeing Wing, a project which broke ground in 2023.

Learn more about the garden here.

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