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Playing with wildflower roofs at Kew Gardens

Members of the Green Roof Organisation (GRO) have worked together to install green roofs on 20 play structures at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which is on a mission to encourage people, after a year spent largely indoors, to reconnect with the incredible nature that surrounds them. This summer, the leading plant institute and UNESCO World Heritage site is delighted to invite visitors on a journey to uncover the Secret World of Plants, supported by Starling Bank.

At the heart of the festival are six ‘plantscapes’ – large-scale, immersive biomes representing contrasting landscapes found across the UK, but rarely experienced in such vivid detail. Each landscape – sand dune; moorland; marsh and meadow; hedgerow; woodland; and urban – is inspired by the UK’s priority habitats in the Biodiversity Action Plan: an internationally recognised programme addressing threatened species and habitats. Visitors are invited to literally place themselves within these monumental landscapes via playful head-holes, and get a new, unique glimpse into these incredible, biodiverse and threatened UK landscapes designed by Seattle-based artist Vaughn Bell.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is passionate about increasing public understanding of plants and the important role they play in human life. With over 350 scientists and work spanning over 100 countries, RBG Kew is leading the way in discovering and describing new plant species, researching their uses, assessing their risk of extinction, and conserving them for future generations. Plants are our life support – they provide us with food, materials, medicine, and more – and RBG Kew has one of the largest and most important collections in the world.

Contributing to the ‘plantscapes’, the 20 colourful structures include several pitched, sedum and wildflower, biodiverse, edible and turf roofs that enable children to discover that rooftops of any size can be living and encourage more greening in urban environments.

Through initial contact from RBG Kew with GRO member, Bauder, the project was led by Mike Cottage of The Urban Greening Company with materials generously supplied by Bauder, Harrowden Turf, Sempergreen and Optigrun. Representatives from GRO member organisations then came together, including Radmat, Pritchard & Pritchard, Eco Green Roofs, The Urban Greening Company and Bridgman & Bridgman to install the green roofs over three days.

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