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published: 1/5/2012
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Diarmuid Gavin opens Prince's Natural House garden on BRE Innovation Park

Garden echoes natural principles of the house, combining sustenance and sustainability.

Innovative garden designer Diarmuid Gavin visited BRE yesterday to mark the completion of formal planting in the Prince’s Natural House organic garden. As he transplanted the final shrub, the Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner highlighted the importance of considering outdoor space as part of the footprint of sustainable urban design.

Diarmuid Gavin

Zbigniew Grabowski (Garden Project Manager), Diarmuid Gavin and Prince’s Foundation Director James Hulme at the official opening of the Prince’s Natural House Garden, BRE Watford, 30 April 2012

The Prince’s Natural House, located on the BRE Innovation Park in Watford, demonstrates a simple, low-tech alternative for volume housebuilders seeking to meet stringent low carbon targets for new homes. It is constructed from natural, non-toxic materials to create a home that is healthy, adaptable and aesthetically pleasing with minimal environmental impact.

The garden surrounding the house follows a similar approach, harnessing natural principles to enhance biodiversity, improve water management and air quality onsite whilst encouraging the local community to grow their own produce. Featuring native wildflowers and grasses, fruiting shrubs and trees, herbs, vegetables and a variety of horticultural plants, it aims to provide amenity, food and even medicinal value.

A comprehensive species list has been specially selected for the garden to fulfil a multitude of purposes. For example, hawthorn bushes have been planted around the front boundary to capture dust and air pollutants from the nearby road whilst at the same time, providing sound insulation for the house and pedestrian control for the innovation park. There is also an apothecary area inspired by the Chelsea Physic Garden which boasts an array of natural remedies such as herbal sage, camomile and vervain.

“The surrounding landscape plays an integral part in the sustainability of a building,” said Gavin, an ambassador for the Prince's Foundation. “The Prince's Natural House garden mimics the structure of surrounding woodland, featuring native planting that works in synergy with natural cycles and the built environment. It has been designed to require minimal maintenance but yield maximum results,” he added.

The garden features a semi-dwarf apricot tree alongside the west-facing wall of the house which can only survive due to the enclosed microclimate in which it is situated. It will bear delicious fruit, absorb thermal loading and serve as a windbreak. The garden will be fully matured within three to five years.

For further information contact Keri Jordan, email jordank@bre.co.uk

Additional photos can be seen on Flickr

Learn more about the BRE Innovation Park at www.bre.co.uk/innovationpark

Arrange a visit to the Prince's Natural House and garden, and the rest of the Innovation Park

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