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Plant Your Next 

The ancient practice of horticulture still plays an exceedingly vital role in the way we shape our planet, producing a healthy crop of plants, fruit and vegetables for our consumers to maintain a balanced nutritious diet and to help us relax and recharge within our gardens. Studying horticulture as part of further education is a superb way of learning the academic science behind our earths’ offerings; as well as practically getting your hands dirty and remaining in close contact with Mother Nature. The subject of horticulture can be applied to all aspects of our lives, from the food we eat, the air we breathe and to the environments, we live. Without plants, we could not exist.  

To celebrate 25 years of Green Flag Awards, – the internationally recognised standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces – The Royal Park Guild held an exceptional ‘discovery day’ conference on the 14th of October 2021. This conference welcomed 250 inspiring landscapers and gardeners from all corners of the industry, giving time for networking and discussing their shared passion of Horticulture. 


Royal Parks Guild Discovery Day, Olympic Park

The event took place in The Olympic Park, East London, a venue that has become home to an array of events over the years. From hosting the world-famous 2012 Olympics and Paralympics to the present year – showcasing Rugby, Football, and Baseball matches – along with music concerts. The London Stadium is proud to have the biggest turnaround of events any venue has ever achieved. Covering 560 acres, this scheme when built saw one of the largest landscape operations implemented involving the planting of 6000 new trees from Hillier Nurseries, 15 acres of woodland and hedgerow habitat and a mass clean-up of the polluted waterways. These waterways now act as a unique SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage System) feature and gives flood prevention for 5000 homes further downstream.  

villiers garden olympic park trees velodrome
Villiers Garden – Olympic Park – London

Throughout the very enjoyable day, we heard from some admirable speakers and experts, discussing wildlife gardening, sustainability, sports turf management, best practice tree planting and what it means to be a Head Gardener for a venue of grand scale. Speakers included Graham Gilmore, CEO of London Stadium, who provided a visual insight into the operations of the pitch, to a multitude of students who are currently studying and described their placements within the industry at Kew Gardens and Moor Trees, a charity committed to reforesting Dartmoor with native species. 

Emerging horticultural talent were given the opportunity of speaking and visiting the careers springboard; allowing these future landscapers and forward-looking companies an opportunity to collaborate and circulate ideas. The Olympic Park as a venue evidences the younger people’s creativity through the ‘Great British Garden’ design award: a competition that was won by two young schoolgirls. 

GreenBlue Urban have been actively involved with horticulture and arboriculture for over 35 years and have always promoted best practice planting. Through the active outreach programs, we work with aspiring landscape students and often present to university and college students across the UK, educating on best practice Green Infrastructure planning and implementation. Our extensive CPD programme covers different agendas when designing for canopy volume trees in urban space from SuDS, Climate Change and Root Morphology. Our Educational resources, literature, videos and webinars are free to access via our website. Please contact GreenBlue Urban for details of the CPDs available.

The postgraduate students loved Howard’s talk. His enthusiasm was infectious! He was adept at getting the students to consider the real-world challenges of siting urban trees and providing information in relation to the students projects.

Nicola Dempsey. Sheffield University

GreenBlue’s Howard Gray presents a CPD seminar to students of Sheffield University.

The feedback on GreenBlue Urbans’ educational resources has been consistently extremely positive. The main feedback being how well informed they now feel as to what is possible when implementing green infrastructure on challenging sites and how they feel more confident recommending such solutions to future clients, allowing trees to be more successfully established in the long term.