Landscapers will be flocking to Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire for the next two days to attend the BALI  2012 Landscaping Show. Completely by chance I happened to be visiting a landscaping job in Leamington Spa which is just down the road, so it was a great opportunity to visit the show.

BALI tends to represent more of the commercial side of landscaping (grounds maintenance, playground installation, that sort of thing) so it wasn’t going to take me long to investigate the areas that interested me. I’d also arranged to meet up with Stratford-upon-Avon based garden designer Sally Hopkinson to see the new Marshalls Cobbletech ‘in the flesh’ ahead of the training day on Friday.

With that in mind we passed through the playground and landscaping machinery displays at some speed and eventually caught up with Trevor Knight from Marshalls who was busy brushing down a newly-constructed Cobbletech panel.

Clearly well-chuffed with the new product Trevor explained the incredibly rigorous testing and development procedures that the product has gone through to get to market. They even went off to Rome to look at ancient Cobbled streets around the Coliseum. An essential bit of research obviously (yeah, right!)

Trevor looking suitably smug about having the hottest New Thing in paving town!

Anyway first impressions of the product are that it looks great but the joints are a bit big (but then The Gardenmakers has a thing about big mortar joints!) however Trevor explained that the joints had been scientifically worked out so that the compound they supply with the cobbles remains intact even under great loads (because essentially the cobbled area will be a flexible surface with solid joints which under normal circumstances would probably fail quite quickly). Not so Cobbletech apparently. We’ll no doubt learn more on Friday but first impressions good.

Stratford-upon-Avon garden Designer Sally Hopkinson discusses Enviromat sedum roofs

After Marshalls we migrated to the Q-Lawns and Enviromat stand, drawn in by the lovely sedum-lined shed roof that was on display. I was keen to see this as I’m contemplating attending a day in Norfolk entitled ‘Gardening for Wildlife with Green Roofs and Floral Meadows’ which is being jointly hosted by Enviromat, Meadowmat and Q-Lawns and gives attendees the chance to see the various innovative wildlife products that they produce. More on this if I get the chance to go!

Finally I was interested in having a look at the latest offerings from the artificial grass world and I was impressed! It’s long been an anathema to me to have anything other than real grass but I can see my reticence has probably been misplaced. The latest generation of artificial grasses are staggeringly lifelike and offer landscapers like us a whole new solution to difficult areas and challenging ‘wearing situations’. It’s something I’ve discussed on more than one occasion with my friend Gary Cobb who owns Acer Paving in Swindon and who’s also an approved installer for Namgrass. It’s possibly something that I’d like the Gardenmakers to be able to offer in the future.