Bringing Nature Home – Beautiful Biodiverse Parks – Maintaining a great landscape doesn’t need to cost the earth

27 Dec 2022

Claremont Park for Related Argent opened to the public this summer. The detailed design and planting scheme were delivered by HTA Design. 

HTA were engaged to re-imagine Claremont Park’s soft landscape, primarily to reduce maintenance costs. We took this opportunity to transform a traditional ornamental planting scheme into one that is biodiverse and climate resilient with native fruiting and nectar-rich planting. The outcome is a stunning park that changes with the seasons, attracting people and wildlife alike.

Colourful wildflower meadows blend with native groves of trees that are mass-planted with spring and autumn flowering bulbs to light up the darker seasons with bright splashes of colour. An orchard surrounding a picnic area entices visitors to pick apples, pears, plumbs or cherries to snack on. From here, a meandering path leads to the play space, weaving through pictorial meadows, stands of dogwood, log piles made from site-won timber, and clusters of Purbeck boulders, one of which features an Iguanodon’s fossilised footprint. 

 Dragonflies skim the water in the central pond, which is graced with the pads of native white and yellow pond lilies and fringed with swathes of flowering marginals. Along the park’s southern boundary, a new heavily treed woodland edge provides much-needed green screening to Clitterhouse Cresent and a buffer to adjacent rear gardens. 

Framing the children’s play area, blocks of low-growing flowering and scented shrubs are planted in dense groups leaving an informal path network between them to invite children to play and explore. The concrete surfaces of the water play and the skate park provide the microclimate for rocky mountain plants and are furnished with a robust selection of evergreen dwarf pine and pillow-forming flowering plants such as lavender and thrift.

More than 300 new trees have been planted in Claremont Park to provide structure, canopy cover, shade, varied habitat and seasonal interest. Species have been selected to suit the locality with alders and willows by the water’s edge and swales, woodland species such as hornbeam, field maple and mountain ash along the southern boundary and Scots and mountain pines framing the playground and skate park. Mature feature trees such as pines, beech, walnut, limes and weeping willows are in key locations where they will form focal points and have space to develop large canopies. 

Whilst the revised tree planting scheme has banished many of the originally proposed exotic tree species in favour of natives, the tree palette is nevertheless full of interest, including the catkins of the alders and willows, the delicate white flowers of the wild cherries in spring, the evergreen scented needles of the Scots pines and coloured bark of the birch during winter; and fruiting crab apples and scented flowering lime in the summer.

By creating this biodiverse yet robust and climate-resilient planting scheme, HTA were able to significantly reduce maintenance costs using flower meadows which need only 1-2 cuts a year, as opposed to extensive traditional ornamental perennial planting, which is very high in maintenance and substantially less biodiverse.