The English Riviera

October; a good time of year to be walking on the Devon coast, not so good for seeing National Plant Collections at their best.  But when you’ve finished walking for the day, a trip to the Zoo seems a good idea, especially if it’s Paignton Zoo, or more correctly PZ Environmental Park, because it’s not just about animals.

Kevin Frediani, Curator of Plants and Gardens, has been working his magic on the park for three years.  Blurring the lines between the hard and soft landscapes by taking out straight lines and using a limited palette of materials, (often using old pallets) has helped to modernise the feel of the grounds and update from an ‘animals in  cages’ scenario to ‘animals in plant landscapes‘. 

A National Collection of Buddleja  is held here but given the time of year there was more to see at the vertical farm which has won the Norah Stucken Award 2011.

This  innovative high density, conveyor driven, stacked vertical crop-growing system produces 30kg of salad leaves per day in 70 square metres of growing space, providing 20% of the needs of the zoo.  Water is fed down through the layers of plants and collected from the floor where is is cleaned and recycled. 

“Lettuce and salad mixes grow well in it and the human potential is enormous – in the future, every school, hospital and housing estate in every town and city could grow their own vegetables.”

The Victoria amazonica which only flowers for a day, was blooming in the crocodile swamp. See the header of this piece; not the best of images, but balancing the desire to get a good photo with the denizens of the pool, meant a point and shoot photo.