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Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get – Mark Twain

August is the silly season for news so I thought I would do my bit and provide advice on what to wear on site. I caused great hilarity when I started work as I genuinely thought that landscape architects did not go to site if it was raining. Needless to say I never lived that down and if you are new to the construction profession I want to spare you this humiliation.

I remember a colleague at the Greater London Council Parks Department who was called to site by the Clerk of Works to sort out a problem. Unfortunately she did not have her site boots with her. Things got rather heated in the site office and it was agreed to go outside to look at the issue. Head held high she stepped out of the site office, up to her ankles in a soupy mud. The clerk of works reported later that, with considerable aplomb and not wishing to lose face in a difficult situation, she just picked up her feet and squelched across the site ruining a fabulous pair of heels.

Bad weather never stops a good Landscape Architect.

It was with a similar determination that I ended up with sunstroke. I had popped into site just to collect something when I was caught by the client. He was delighted to see me as the golf architect was on site. He and I had differing views on what constituted attractive grading and I was determined to have my say. Wholesale NFL Jerseys Unfortunately I had neither hat nor sunscreen and four hours later I knew it was a mistake; if you have never had sunstroke, think of the worst hangover you have ever had…

My friend was going to site on a lovely summer’s day and decided to wear a dress. As her legs looked a bit pasty white she applied some fake tan. On site she tripped over and started to fall into a canal full of a black oozy sludge. She was grabbed by someone and luckily only one leg was immersed in the sludge. However when she was hosed down the fake tan came off leaving one white leg and one brown. She wasn’t brave enough to explain and had to convince everyone there really was no need to go to A&E.

The coldest I have ever been is on the Dengie peninsula in Essex looking at a wind farm proposal. Clearly I had misjudged the weather forecast and the joy of heated seats in my car will live on in my memory for a long time.

The wettest place I have ever worked is Wales. When I was working on the A55 North Wales Coast Road it was such a long journey from London that we had to stay over for several days. Trust me – it can rain in Wales for a week. It was fine going back to the hotel each night except for the last day. I remember going into a hotel near the station and asking if I could hire a room for an hour to dry off before I got the train home. I was charged £25 which I thought was an absolute bargain.

So here are my top tips:

  1. Expensive boots are not necessarily the most comfortable
  2. Boots must be waterproof
  3. Keep a hat and sunscreen in the car
  4. Invest in thermals
  5. 20% of your body heat is lost through your head so buy a woolly hat
  6. Waterproof trousers are also windproof and make a great extra layer if it is really cold
  7. Golf clothing is lightweight and can be very effective
  8. Fingerless gloves allow you to write
  9. Don’t be afraid to look an idiot – it better to be warm and dry than make a fashion statement
  10. Remember what the Norwegians say – there is no such thing as cold weather – only the wrong sort of clothes.

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Green Roof Part II

Everyone is talking about the Olympics so it’s right to mention that the Pictorial Meadows seed mix sprinkled on my green roof was developed by James Hitchmough and Nigel Dunnett of Sheffield University. They are the clever guys responsible for the prairie planting that looks so great at the Olympic Park — take a look here

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/environment/sea_of_gold_surrounds_olympic_park_1_617162

My project is on a much smaller scale, but there’s no doubt my plant plugs and seed mix have established well after a difficult start with no rain. This blog is a discussion about the tricky bits. Mostly, the difficulties are all about access — for construction, establishment and maintenance. Because of the smaller scale of our roof, we lifted the topsoil/compost mix up on to the roof by a chain of buckets, with one lucky person on a ladder. On bigger roofs, you’d need to use a pulley or crane.

My roof has no parapet and I have to admit to an initial unease about being up there. I’ve only had two accidents on site and one was when I walked backwards into a pond; no doubt this sticks in my memory. The narrow bark path 600mm from the edge has worked well and so has the message to myself to keep my feet on it. In the first year there was a lot of kneeling for micro-weeding and the path allowed me to kneel without damaging plants.

The problem was it looked ugly, so once plants were established I made the path into stepping stones.Wholesale NFL Jerseys This meant importing more soil and a second phase of planting. In the absence of my own propagated plant plugs and because it was the wrong season for seeding, the plants came from the nursery. The problem was that the soil had settled to between 50mm and 70mm deep, so the depth of the rootball (the mass of roots at the base of a plant) was too deep for the substrate. To end up with an 80mm depth of substrate (the accepted optimum depth), it has to be nearer 100mm deep when laid. To overcome this problem, the rootballs were cut to half their depth vertically, and the two sections were laid flat; they didn’t seem to mind being treated so harshly and all the plants have survived.

The weeding is important until the plugs are established. Since there was no clue what species were in the seed mix, I had to be sure nothing of value was being removed. The seedlings I recognised, like dock, rape, sycamore, ash, groundsel and meadow grass, came out but quite a few species had to stay until they grew bigger. Plants like Bloody Cranesbill can stay; if a plant is not going to cause a problem and is the right height, it gets a reprieve.

Finally the need for water has to be carefully thought through. In a normal summer there is no requirement to water a seeded roof but it must be considered if young plants are used. Watering in at the time of planting helps the soil make contact with the roots, so it is beneficial at this point, but water should not be needed for an established green roof in the longer term. The problem is that it might be needed for establishment if the rain fails to appear. At this point, a cost-benefit analysis needs to be carried out. Can a water point on the roof be justified if it is only likely to be used during establishment? If the rain does not come, what is the cost of replanting if all the plants fail due to lack of water? These are the questions that need to be asked before you can make a firm decision

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