This time last year I visited Garden Organic's HQ at Ryton near Coventry to have a look around their varied demonstration gardens. Before I'd even made it that far, I was struck by the planting in the car park: here you can see tall, wavy grasses topped off by crab apples trees (do click for a larger image if required). This is very different to the usual car parks seen around Chippenham, but it seemed to me it would be great if this kind of planting was adopted more widely.
There was an interpretation board nearby which gave lots more information about what had been planted:
The planting in our car park has been designed to provide year-round interest for our visitors whilst providing food and cover for wildlife. Many of the shrubs and trees provide fruits, berries or hips, all of which are a magnet for birds. The tall stems of the ornamental grasses are left on over winter to provide cover for hibernating insects.
Spring interest is provided by flowering shrubs such as Berberis wilsoniae, Berberis verruculosa and Chaenomeles japonica. In summer, the Rosa spinosissima and Stephanandra incisa 'Crispa' come into flower, to be followed by autumn fruits on the collection of crab apples such as Malus 'John Downie', Malus x zumi 'Golden Hornet' and Malus huphensis. On a frosty winter's morning, the tall stems of the grasses Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' and Stipa gigantea shine in the low sun, casting long shadows on the ground.
The hedges surrounding the car park have been planted using native British species such as hazel, field maple and hawthorn. Native trees and shrubs have been found to support many more invertebrate animals than introduced species of tree. This in turn attracts many other animals including robins, shrews and hedgehogs. As a result the entire ecosystem is enriched.
Hardly any of these plants are used in the public planting around Chippenham, so they would be great at increasing the diversity around the town, which I understand is one of the local council's goals with regards to our future quality of life. As well as enhancing car parks, these plants are also ideal candidates for the changed approach to roundabout planting I advocated in the last edition of Out on the Streets.
There's still plenty of time for you to join in with OOTS this month as I'll be extending it into September to give everyone a chance to take part. Simply write your post and add your link to Mr Linky here: this link will also tell you more about OOTS should you need it.