Where are the trees or any plants??

I have had an unusual start to my working week today since I had to take the morning off to take my youngest son to Gloucester for an interview.  He hopes to join the RAF and this was the first stage of the process. So I had potentially two hours to kill at Gloucester Docks – not a prospect I was looking forward to.

I have been to the Docks on a number of occasions but not for about 5 years.  Bizarrely the building where I was expecting to get a coffee and look at some shops had completely gone and I couldn’t even work out where it should have been.  There has been a lot of development at the docks for a number of years.  They have redeveloped the old warehouse buildings into a range of apartments and offices.  The area around these buildings is predominantly paved pedestrian areas with lots of seating areas and off course the docks with boats add an interest.  Gloucester  for those of you who don’t know it is not near the coast so this is an inshore dock which is part of the Sharpness Canal link to the sea.

The development work is still underway, lots of construction workers and pile driving going on, presumably for more buildings.  There is now a designer outlet centre which was quite nice and lots of coffee shops near the water but…

the one thing that struck me was the complete lack of any planting of any kind.  Now I know this is an area of docks  and that it used to be a commercial/industrious area so trees etc would not be practicable.  However this is now a residential/office development so  why oh why has no one  thought to incorporate some trees or areas of planting to break up the bleakness of the warehouses. The picture below shows just how much paving there is so why not

leave some areas clear –  I can see some nice trees here with maybe some sweeps of grasses – simple but effective.  It was a warm day today and I struggled to find somewhere to sit and read my book with a little shade.  It was either bright sunlight and the risk of burning or the cold deep shade from the tall warehouses.  Come on Gloucester Council get your act together. I would have given anything for some dappled shade from a tree and my eyes would have liked something soft to focus on as a contrast to the hardness of the buildings and paving. If only someone would engage their brain or even better a landscaper!

For some ideas of good public planting check out the posts on Veg Plottings occasional series on public planting

12 Comments on “Where are the trees or any plants??

  1. Good point and nice example of a barren landscape but at least you can ‘see’ the trees. I suggest you contact Gloucester council with your ideas – they might even give you the job!


  2. Even Canary Wharf, which I used to find depressingly concrete, has quite a lot of green space. There’s no excuse not to, just a lack of imagination.
    The council wouldn’t even have to pay for it themselves: all they need to do is to stipulate that any developer must incorporate some sort or percentage of planting, and pay for the maintenance. I think this ought to be obligatory for any new development.

  3. Dear Helen, It is now some years since I too was in the Gloucester Dock area which, at the time, was in the process of regeneration. Looking at your pictures, I am somewhat appalled, like you, at such an extent of hard landscaping with not a single tree in sight. What a wasted opportunity and what, one wonders, is the thinking behind it?

  4. You are so right – this is incredibly shortsighted of them. Street trees and wooded parkland is going to be the city and towns best defences against rising temperatures. Plus, there really should be more consideration given to green rooves – admittedly more on new builds than retro fitting, but I imagine warehouses are better suited to this than most old buildings.

  5. Like you I haven’t been to Gloucester Docks for ages and when I heard the new shopping centre was open last year, I was expecting some of the area would have some kind of planting as part of the new landscaping. I’m sure something simple could be done which wouldn’t spoil the dockland feel/heritage aspects.

    You’ve cited some very good instances where it would be of practical help to visitors after all. But now you come to mention it, I think Bristol Docks is similar – must have a look next time I’m there and do a follow-up story to yours here.

    Thanks for the plug re my ever growing set of posts on this topic 🙂

  6. I agree. My heart sinks a bit when there is no green and no plants. It would have been easy enough to have trees at the planning stage.

  7. Hmm. Maybe the landscape architect for this project was absent the day they did green design, and the day they covered how to include human scale in a landscape, and the day on how to make a big open space more inviting, and on how to cool off big expanses of paving. Is it possible to miss this much of the course and still get certified? Here’s a thought: Maybe the landscape architect included the plantings and trees and these got removed from the project by the developer in order to save money. (Why does that have the ring of truth.)

  8. I think you should start a petition to add at least some containers. It looks so stark. I agree a little greenery would go a long way.

  9. You’re very lucky to live in a nation which values color and plant life as part of the culture. Here in America, we’re still struggling to bring that consciousness to people like developers. I live in the Midwest, and it’s very sad to me that people here have lost touch with their farming roots; many many developments here lack decent landscaping. People can be so cheap and unconnected with nature. I’m very proud of my municipality; we’re greening our public spaces and adding sculpture and making ‘green walks’ to encourage foot traffic. But not ever town or city has such forward thinking leadership.

    I loved my trip to England and I was amazed by the gardens i saw there, and it was December! yours are very lovely and i will be reading this blog when i break from my own gardens.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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