From our previous blogs, you will now fully understand how important green spaces are to our cities. 

 They provide great value by cooling the climate, reducing the risk of flooding, providing opportunities to increase biodiversity and improving our physical and mental health.

We talk a lot about intensive green infrastructure such as green roofs, but there is also huge potential for schools and community groups to be involved with increasing the green spaces around the city and to learn about horticulture. Before I started working for Hosta, I had the perception that gardening was for quaint little villages. I have since learnt how wrong I was and that we now need horticulture in our cities more than ever to give us the chance of sustainable future.

 

History

The Victorians, notably Ebenezer Howard and Fredrick Olmsted, realised the importance of having green spaces and gardens. More history about the Victorian 'green lungs' of Britain can be read here. Fundamentally, their urban parks were founded for health reasons as a place to escape the smog from industries. Over time they evolved as place for people to relax, exercise and socialise. In Nottingham we still have some interconnected green spaces, such as the Arboretum and The Forest. Research demonstrates seriously declining levels of physical and psychological health among city dwellers, living in polluted and unsafe environments. However, just like the Victorians did, community gardens and other green spaces can be a way to prevent this and develop healthier and more sustainable communities. 

Existing initiatives for community gardens

There are plenty of ways to be involved in horticulture in the city, with a growing number of initiatives across the UK. “It’s your neighborhood”, part of Britain in Bloom, supports community groups in making their local streets cleaner and greener. The Royal Horticultural Society also have an initiative called “Greening Grey Britain” helping to set up local groups to turn existing grey spaces into green ones. As for Nottingham, “Articulture”, brought horticulture and art together to brighten up the streets of Hockley. 

 

“Healthy towns”

Only today it has been announced in the news a new government strategy, under the NHS,  that ten new “healthy towns” will be built in the UK, which will focus on creating more green space as a way of addressing problems such as obesity and dementia. Radically, the plans for the new towns will be a collaboration between clinicians, designers and technology experts, which we hope will create some exciting new ideas about the role of our environment to our health.

This news demonstrates that the importance of green space in cities is not going unheard, and will hopefully set a trend for more public gardens and parks to be implemented within urban planning and development. With that said, it remains highly important for the long term success of these towns that education and training organisations put more focus on developing their horticulture courses and qualifications to ensure growth for gardening within urban areas, for school children, community groups and individuals.