French gardens: Poetry in motion

It’s Gallic! A garden is a garden, but in France it is not that simple. The country seems to be full of Gardens of Eden and thus gardening is a highly emotional thing to do in the land of wine, baguettes and camembert.

For the average French garden lover gardening is something he could never do without. It is an inherent human need, a heart’s desire, a basic want. Thus, French bloggers tend to express their passionate fascination for gardening in a very poetic way. It is not just the garden itself that causes this rapture, but it is the practice of gardening, it is letting flowers, herbs and vegetables grow, it is experiencing Mother Nature – something a French garden lover would never call work. For him it is the creation of a sense of harmony and it is the connection of mankind with its origins. Consequently, their favourite garden trend is the feel-good garden. Especially for women the garden is a place where they can forget daily routines and the pressures of professional life. While relaxing and dreaming in their feel-good gardens many French wish their garden was much larger. However, also in France a lush and spacious garden is something for the upper class. Nevertheless, the French love their gardens – even if they are small – and corresponding to their mentality they endeavour to make the best of it. Thus, those who can’t have a large garden consider a kitchen garden as an interesting and affordable alternative. And again, bloggers who report about their kitchen garden on the web find very poetic words to describe it, for instance harvesting is magic, it’s best of the earth’s energy or listening to the voice of nature. It’s just French.

More Information: newsroom.husqvarna.com

 

It may be small, but it’s mine – and it’s fun!

The majority of gardens in the UK are small, but nevertheless Britons are proud of their gardens and, by all means, their gardening skills.

The average size of a small garden is up to 2,000 square feet (200 square metres), which applies to 43 % of all gardens in the UK. Not more than 16 % are described as medium sized gardens (up to 4,000 square feet/400 square metres) and just 10 % of all British gardens are large or very large, with the latter exceeding the size of four tennis courts or 10,000 square feet (1,000 square metres). While the number of small to very large gardens did not change much over the past five years, there is a rising interest in allotments/communal gardens. Today, with 11 % of British gardens being communal gardens, there are more allotments than large gardens in the UK.

The older the gardeners become, the more knowledgeable they are of gardening. 49 % of the people in their late fifties/early sixties say that they are very good or quite good gardeners. But even more experienced gardeners are those older than 65 years, as 60 % of them claim to be really good at whatever they do in their gardens. Although the gardening skills may differ, there is one thing that all these gardeners have in common: They really enjoy what they’re doing! The number of people who don’t care for their gardens themselves matches the figure of large or very large gardens. Some 10 % leave the gardening to a professional gardener. Could this fact possibly indicate that, “The smaller the garden, the more fun”?

Denmark, the land of garden parties

Danes are known for their Scandinavian laid-back mentality coupled with a strong joy of living. Their gardens play a vital role in their social life, because it is their favourite location to assemble, dine, drink and just enjoy the good things in life with friends and family. This, however, requires a special type of garden.

Due to the northern European weather conditions, Danes make full use of their gardens mainly in the summer months. The preferred Danish garden is a mixture of a social garden, a lush garden and a kitchen garden. By all means, the social aspect is being together with friends, family and neighbours outdoors. Therefore, the garden must have a pleasant ambience, and the Danish gardeners like it lush. The gardens are often colourful with playful designs and interesting artistry. The Danes tend to buck the trend and so their gardens usually reflect the nature and personality of their owners rather than any trend from a glossy garden magazine. Besides the social and lush aspects, the Danish garden must also provide enough room for growing herbs and vegetables. Unlike kitchen gardens in most other countries around the world, the Danes love experimenting with new variants of herbs and vegetables. For them, kitchen gardening is more than simply growing their own food, it is living the passion for the fine things in life: enjoying food and drink in good company. This is also reflected in most Danish blog posts and last but not least in the spending on gardening and outdoor living. On average the Danes spend 183 Euros (237 $) on their garden, which is the second highest spending per head and year on garden equipment in Europe.

More Information: newsroom.husqvarna.com

 

Stricter controls on pest control products

“Biocides” – ranging from rat poisons to wood preservatives – will be subject to tougher safety checks, following a European Parliament vote on Thursday, January 17, 2012. The updated rules aim to better protect human health and the environment, while streamlining the marketing approval process.

Council, which has already provisionally agreed to the new legislation, must give a formal green light for it to enter into force.

Furniture

The updated legislation closes a loophole so that treated products – such as furniture sprayed with fungicide or anti-bacterial kitchen worktops – will be included under the rules and labelled. Agricultural pesticides will continue to be covered by other EU legislation.

Restricting harmful substances

The most problematic substances – such as those that are carcinogenic, affect genes or hormones or are toxic to reproduction – should in principle be banned. Exceptions should only be made in Member States where strictly necessary, for example if a biocide is needed to safeguard against a specific danger to health. Approvals and renewals will be time-limited, while safer alternatives are developed.

Concerned about possible risks of nanotechnology, MEPs secured separate safety checks and labelling for products containing nano-sized materials.

Opening up the market

The new legislation further harmonises the EU market for biocidal products and sets deadlines for applications to be assessed. The recognition of approvals among Member States will be improved and the possibility to apply for authorisation at EU level will be phased in from 2013, becoming possible for most biocidal products by 2020.

Source: europarl.europa.eu

Building for vertical garden cities

Some of their structures remind us of bold visions of the future, in which plants reclaim nature for themselves. WOHA realize the permeation of buildings and landscape, of interiors and exteriors in projects such as the Singapore School of the Arts and the seminal residential high-rise “The Met” in Bangkok, which received the International Highrise Award 2010.

WOHA is represented by Richard Hassell and Mun Summ Wong as directors of the architectural office based in Singapore. They made their name in Asia in the late 1990s with open, single-family dwellings suitable for the tropics. Today they mainly design high-rises and large structures: a mega residential park in India, office and hotel towers in Singapore that lend a new, vertical dimension to green landscapes. Air-conditioning is merely an additional feature for these open structures, because the building structure itself provides the cooling. Natural lighting is standard, solar modules harvest energy for use in the buildings; water for domestic purposes and rainwater are reused.

Topics such as creating value added through communal areas and permeability for climate and nature will be presented in WOHA’s first monographic exhibition using examples of open tropical family homes, green high-rises and projects still in the completion phase. The exhibition showcases 19 of WOHA’s most important projects in digital images and models, project texts, large-format photos and plans.

 

WOHA – Breathing Architecture
2 December 2011 – 29 April 2012 at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM), Frankfurt am Main

Further information:
dam-online.de
woha-architects.com