Bug hotels

bug-hotelBug hotels provide an important environmental service. They can become home for butterflies, ladybirds, bugs and wild bees. They often house small insects, which consume pests from plants.

The bugs will stay within the perimeters of the hotel and don’t tend to move into our flats. They like the dark and secure environment the hotel provides for them. They will however enjoy our balcony plants.

Bug hotels are currently on offer at the Lidl store in Well Street for the bargain price of £7.99 but they can also be bought from other retailers like Amazon for home delivery.

Be savvy with gardening

We have mostly window box and balcony gardeners on Parkview with some residents having small gardens attached to properties.

For balcony* gardeners especially relevant is the planting of tomatoes and cucumber seeds. Our metal lattice balconies lend themselves for the growing of cucumbers who can climb up on the lattice. Tomatoes can be grown in grow bags or pots.

photo of cucumbers and tomatoes in wooden crates

Photo by Nuzul Arifa on Pexels.com

Cucumbers can still be sown out from seed as late as June (earliest when the frosts have gone).  Tomatoes can be sown as late as 2 months prior to the first frosts settling in.

There is nothing easier and cheaper than taking a few seeds from a tomatoe or a cucumber and planting it into your balcony or garden.

Whilst we now getting warmer and drier climates, I want to suggest to you that you can use recycled water to nourish your plants. Every shower or bath is water down the drain if you just pull the plug or let the water run down.

You can use bath water even with bubble bath or shampoo residue to water your plants, also the tumble dryer containers are ideal to water plants.

For security reasons I would strongly suggest that you always lock your balcony door after going outside. Please also ensure that your gardens are burglar proof. Keep windows on latches.

*Please note that communal balconies are unsuitable for growing vegetables.

 

User-friendly estate maintenance

I need to keep going on about the insufficient estate maintenance with respect to landscape services.

it is not the fault of the gardeners who come around cutting down the plants on instruction of Tower Hamlets or Tower Hamlets Homes; its the instructions they are working to, that worries me.

We need to make our estate liveable for our

Residents, who want a relaxing view on the estate

Maintenance personnel, who have to clean the paths and empty bins

Children who use the area to play or walk to school

Unfortunately just sawing any plant down to very short is not providing the effect needed.

For example at the back of Rosebery House there are plants growing, which actively hinder our bin collectors from actually doing their job because a tree is obstructing the path to and from the bin.

This overgrown shrub completely obstructs the bin collectors from bringing the bin containers to the bin lorry. The branches also damage windows and guttering.

There is also another large holly bush/tree, which is very near the entrance to the bin chambers and its growing across horizontally. Though it has been cut off at the top, the spreading has not been stopped. There is no point in having a plant that has razor-sharp leaves, which can injure playing children and hinder estate personnel.

The leaves of this holly bush are razor sharp.

I think we need responsible landscaping. Just the picture above shows lovely soft-leaved plants on the left of the picture, which are protruding but do not harm people and are easily cut back. But the Holly bush in the foreground only gets trimmed once a year and has razor-sharp leaves capable of hurting a child.

landscaping

I’ve now received a formal reply from the Chief Executive’s Office from Tower Hamlets Council with regards to landscaping and maintenance of Parkview Estate and in particular the areas around Sankey and Rosebery House.

Chief Executive Will Tuckey has invited me to take part in an Estate Inspection walk and has agreed to cut down a shrub, which obviously obstructs access to essential maintenance areas but in principle has refused to further consider planting and maintenance policies.

The website of the Housing Ombudsman recommends that mediating action should be taken for 8 weeks after a decision and therefore I have contacted our Member of Parlimant Rushanara Ali to get a revision of the planting and maintenance policy on the estate.

Main points in contention

  • planting of large trees at 2 metres distance from houses prevents maintenance, obstructs views and causes damage to buildings and gutterings. Only dwarf trees are suitable for planting near houses.
  • Allowing tree saplings to grow around the houses and merely sawing them down to size once a year. Remove those hard bushes and trees.
  • Aim to get a planting scheme of child- and maintenance friendly flowering  or fruiting shrubs around the houses to encourage small mammals, butterflies, bugs and bees. The currnt thorny rosebushes and even thorny holly prevent gardening and the hard leaved bushes and shrubs do not encourage wildlife.
  • maintenance of fruit trees already planted, as who is going to pick up all that fruit and prevents it from rotting on the ground?

I’ll await a reply from Rushanara and if that does not come to a satisfactory conclusion will contact the Housing Ombudsman on the issues.

Don’t you agree that it would be worth asking the team from Springwatch or even Garden Rescue to have a look into the issue?

Parkview estate has a superb potential to become a model estate for inner city gardening.

 

 

 

 

The benefit of trees for carbon absorption

tree sprouting

Tree sapling growing near the stairs on the path towards the football pitch. It is a tree that nobody removes and can grow to 20m in height.

Whilst a study, carried out in the USA concluded that mature tree forests can absorb and store a lot of carbon emissions, as soon as a tree or shrub gets cut down, all that stored carbon gets released into the atmosphere, which in fact has no benefit at all from an environmental point of view.

One has to calculate the cost against the benefits.

In one of my recent posts I praised the Council for cutting down the shrubs around Rosebery House for the purpose of it being more secure but, the cutting down of shrubs around Rosebery House alone took one garden worker a whole week.

That is a lot of money being spend on 2 housing blocks on a council estate. Taking into account the materials and wages spent, I fully understand that leaseholders complain about their costs.

There is little environmental benefit on growing and cutting bushes and shrubs regularly as all the captured carbon gets released back into the atmosphere.

I have complained to the council about the over planting on the estate and the regular cutting down does little to alleviate the problems.

There would be a much better benefit for mental health and environmental considerations if the current shrubs (which are often cut short trees) get removed and replaced by soft shrubs with softer leafes, which could be fruit shrubs or flowering shrubs, that can also provide a home for small insects and bugs.

There would be much less maintenance required, which is very much cheaper for our residents.

hedghog

Hedghogs live on Parkview and proper planting will support their environment.

The hard leafed shrubs in the Rosebery House area do not attract butterflies or insects or small mammals like hedgehogs., they have no benefit whatsoever with the exception of looking green. In fact their roots could weaken the building structure of the house.

It would be much cheaper to maintain the area and be of more benefits to the residents if we could have the hard leafed shrubs removed and replaced with soft and low level plants.

Some of the trees around Rosebery House have quickly sprouting off-shoots as can be seen in the pic above. They just grow everywhere quickly into tall plants.

As already listed there are recommended distances from trees to buildings and it can actually devalue house insurance if trees are too near and I think the council does not consider this when allowing the over-planting of our estate.

And as there is the myth about oxyden production. I quote a popular site, which says:

“Humans consume 550 L oxygen per day (ref 1). How much plant growth do we need to produce that amount of oxygen? Plants produce 22 L for every 150 g of growth (ref 2). They would need to increase in weight by 3.75 Kg (8 pounds), each day, to produce the oxygen used by one person.” Ref

“It takes six molecules of CO2 to produce one molecule of glucose by photosynthesis, and six molecules of oxygen are released as a by-product. A glucose molecule contains six carbon atoms, so that’s a net gain of one molecule of oxygen for every atom of carbon added to the tree. A mature sycamore tree might be around 12m tall and weigh two tonnes, including the roots and leaves. If it grows by five per cent each year, it will produce around 100kg of wood, of which 38kg will be carbon. Allowing for the relative molecular weights of oxygen and carbon, this equates to 100kg of oxygen per tree per year.

A human breathes about 9.5 tonnes of air in a year, but oxygen only makes up about 23 per cent of that air, by mass, and we only extract a little over a third of the oxygen from each breath. That works out to a total of about 740kg of oxygen per year. Which is, very roughly, seven or eight trees’ worth.” Ref.