Ever conscious of the need to improve our knowledge about sustainability in the landscaping sector I decided to attend an open day being put on by Q-Lawns from their base near Brandon in Norfolk. The purpose of this was to introduce the concept of wildlife gardening and more specifically two products that are created at their Brandon farm.

Enviromat is the main component of green or ‘living’ roofs. 7 species of sedum make up attractive creeping mats of foliage that will cover a roof. Apart from just looking nice there are several tangible benefits to these roofs.

  • They provide excellent insulation in winter and summer.
  • They extend the life of the waterproofing by at least double.
  • They can halve the noise inside a building.
  • They are used by wildlife – particularly nectar loving insects like bees and hoverflies.

Enviromat is supplied in rolls, very like turf, and without going into detail it’s fairly easy to establish on a roof that will bear the weight and isn’t pitched too steeply.

Meadowmat does what it says on the tin. It’s a wildflower meadow grown as a mat which can then be laid onto a prepared area. There are 34 species of wildflower on the mat with several of the old favourites like red clover and oxeye daisy. Now obviously you can’t just roll this up and ship it out because by this time of year some of the plants are nearly 3 feet high. So transportation costs on this must be relatively high because you need you keep the rolls flat therefore limiting the amount you can get on a truck. Does that make it less environmentally sound? Who knows.

There were about 20 of us. An eclectic group ranging from photographer and beekeeping expert David Wootton to a chap from the Trades Union Congress! In the middle were several journalists, a handful of garden designers, a couple who own a garden centre about 5 miles from where I live  and me, the token landscaper.

We all convened at the Brandon House Hotel and after initial greetings Angela Lambert from Q-Lawns gave us a quick overview of the products, their benefits and applications. Angela has an engaging and entertainingly frank style of delivery and everyone enjoyed the presentation.

After that, Catherine, a ranger from the Lakenheath Fen RSPB reserve gave us a presentation on the importance of gardens as wildlife sanctuaries that was also very well received.

Then we all took a mini bus off to the farms to see the Enviromt and Meadowmat products being produced. And that was when it all started to go wrong for me.

10 minutes in the back of the mini bus and my 5am start and greasy Little Chef breakfast started to catch up with me. I was sitting next to London-based Garden designer Josh Ward and while he was chatting away about business and the recession I was getting more and more queasy. By the time we got to the farm my arms and hands were tingling and I was sweating profusely. There was no question about it, I needed to throw up!

While the rest of the group were standing by a ditch being educated on the countryside stewardship scheme I took the opportunity to slope off behind a large barn and perform the necessary. The trouble is still felt vile afterwards with waves of nausea threatening to send me back behind the barn. I was dreading getting back on the bus.

My salvation appeared in the form of Catherine from the RSPB who kindly let me travel in her car with her.  And for the next hour, every time we stopped, the group gathered around the man from Q lawns while I took a brisk walk off in the other direction acutely aware of how embarrassing this was and what sort of a fool I must have looked.

Fortunately by lunchtime I was feeling much better and managed to get considerable value from the remainder of the day. Lunch was held in a small marquee out in the growing fields where both the mats were being cultivated from seed.

We were also shown the turf growing fields and were able to watch the turf being harvested which was terrific. And I have to say that the turf was immaculate.

Lastly we were taken to a private residence where Enviromat had been used on a part of the house and two garden sheds. If time permits I will add to this at a later date but for now I want to get the post up. In the meantime if you want to find out more about these two products click HERE and follow the links at the top right hand side.

In conclusion it was a very interesting day and my thanks must go to the people from Q-Lawns for making the visit worth the long drive from the Cotswolds.