Faculty of Biological Sciences

Research Bulletin

Leeds prepares to take 'bee-utiful' garden to world's most prestigious flower show

15th May 2012

The University will visit one of the world's most famous flower shows next week to show how simple changes can make a positive contribution to the planet.

The University's garden, designed by Chelsea gold medal-winning designer Martin Walker, resembles a 'typical' northern garden and brings to life research conducted by academics at two of the University's faculties, the Faculty of Environment and the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

Dr Rebecca Slack, of the University's Faculty of Environment, commented: "Chelsea Flower Show (21 - 26 May) is a fantastic event, every year it captures people's imagination and for a week or so, people who would never usually class themselves as gardeners, are talking about gardening.

"What we want to do is capture that enthusiasm and help people relate their garden to the wider environment. It is estimated that gardens take up between 20 - 35 per cent of space in UK cities, so what we do in them has a massive effect on the wider environment."

The team of academics working on the project includes: Dr Gordon Mitchell, Dr Slack, Professor Les Firbank and Professor Bill Kunin with support also given by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) which has funded much of the research into ecosystem services.

Dr Slack continued: "There are three themes running though the garden - pollination, water management and carbon management. We chose these themes because they reflect our research, but more importantly they have a very real impact on people's everyday lives and, crucially, they are things which people can really have an impact on.

"On the water front for example, we've just seen the wettest April on record even though some parts of the country are in drought. What people do in their garden affects how plants cope with such unpredictable conditions. Similarly, the fact bees are declining has also been well covered in the media, but we wanted to show that how individuals act in their gardens can really affect the local bee population as well as helping them to have a thriving garden."

The design of the University garden will show how easy it is for gardeners to adopt these themes:

  • Slow water is good water Rainfall that runs off fast doesn't absorb into the ground to bolster the water table and keep plants going in dry periods. In extreme cases it can cause flash flooding. Gardeners can control water flow by introducing permeable paths, which will allow water to soak in slowly; they can also store water by using water butts. Measures such as green roofs also help slow water flow.
  • Bees love the natural look This goes for everything from grass that is a little longer, to flowers which have been left to resemble their wild cousins. Bedding plants sold in garden centres and double flowers (where extra doubles replace the stamen) have been bred to such an extent that they tend to have very little pollen. Longer grass is bee-friendly because clover has the chance to flower, while rotting logs and sandy soil provide ideal nesting sites for solitary bees and other insects.
  • Compost not carbon Composting food waste and vegetable peelings is a great way to help turn your garden into a carbon sink. Reducing use of artificial fertilisers, growing vegetables and fruit, and planting green roofs and walls to insulate buildings also helps this process.

Dr Slack continued: "We're delighted with our garden, but we also wanted to extend our campaign beyond Chelsea Flower Show and reach people who aren't visiting the Show. Consequently we've launched a Facebook app called The Messy Garden where people can leave their favourite gardening tip and 'grow' plants and shrubs." For further details please visit the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GardeningForChampions or visit the website: gardenchampions.leeds.ac.uk/

What does the garden look like?

The garden represents an average urban garden, the kind found on the fringe of any northern city. A path made of permeable material will allow visitors to walk through the garden. There is a green-roofed (planted with Sedum Grass) pagoda which houses information boards to explain the function of the garden. The path and pagoda divide the garden into three areas: the vegetable and fruit bed; the shady garden common in many north-facing gardens; the rain garden planted for areas of high rainfall or water run-off. A "bee-vision" camera and linked screen will allow visitors to see the garden from the perspective of a pollinating insect.


Recent Grants

Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haematology, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2015), £700,521

Sheena Radford, Mark Harris, Peter Stockley, Alan Berry, Alex O'Neill, Thomas Edwards, Adrian Goldman, Anastasia Zhuravleva, Wellcome Trust (Jan 2015), £443,015

Bill Kunin, EU (Jan 2015), £157,490

John Colyer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Fund (Jan 2015), £40,000

Chris Hassall, Royal Society (Dec 2014), £14,500

Ryan Seipke, Royal Society (Nov 2014), £13,700

Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £749,865

Ian Hope, Marie-Anne Shaw, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £396,565

Alison Ashcroft, Peter Stckley, Sheena Radford, Nic Stonehouse, David Brockwell, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £340,937

Les Firbank, Joe Holden, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £210,302

Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Chemistry and Pathology, anatomy and Tumour Biology, Dr Hadwen Trusy (Oct 2014), £194,475

Paul Knox, EU (Oct 2014), £167,229

Martin Stacey and colleagues in Medicine & Health, Pfizer (Oct 2014), £90,453

Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Experimental Oncology, YCR (Oct 2014), £69,480

Andrew Macdonald, Jamel Mankouri, Kidney Research Fund UK (Oct 2014), £58,878

Mike McPherson and colleagues in Dentistry and Engineering, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £58,437

Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haemotology, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (Sep 2014), £281,424

Emmanuel Paci and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £636,759

Andrew Peel, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £371,598

Lars Jeuken, Stephen Evans, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £333,684

Lars Jeuken, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £313,463

Michelle Peckham, Mark Harris, Rao Sivaprasadarao, Eileen Ingham, Nic Stonehouse, Nikita Gamper, Wellcome Trust (Sep 2014), £192,763

Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Aug 2014), £355,253

Stuart Egginton, BHF (Aug 2014), £271,094

Darren Tomlinson, Mike McPherson, Technology Strategy Board (Aug 2014), £98,665

Peter Henderson, Leverhulme Trust (Aug 2014), £15,222

Mike McPherson (and colleagues in the School of Chemistry), EPSRC (Jul 2014), £819,880

Peter Stockley, Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Jul 2014), £455,787

Sheena Radford, Univesity of Michigan (Jul 2014), £138,452

Ryan Seipke, British Society Antimicrobial Chemistry (Jun 2014), £11,960

John Trinick, BHF (Jun 2014), £222,614

Chris West, Leverhulme Trust (Jun 2014), £181,241

Jon Lippiat, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (May 2014), £125,174

Christine Foyer, Royal Society (May 2014), £24,000

Recent
News

New project to develop 'smart' pesticides

27th April 2015

University of Leeds researchers are playing a key role in an international collaboration to develop new, eco-friendly pesticides.


A bit of hot water can prevent the spread of invasive species

20th April 2015

When it comes to invasive species in the United Kingdom, a few ounces of hot water may be worth nearly £2 billion in annual management costs, according to a new study.


Parasite turns shrimp into voracious cannibals

18th March 2015

Parasites can play an important role in driving cannibalism, according to a new study.

 


New study on female fruit flies published by FBS Professor

17th March 2015

Female fruit flies may be more likely to reject the sperm of mates that are inferior, an international research team has found.


Uniting the women of science and engineering

10th March 2015

Three University of Leeds academics have been honoured with a Medical Research Council (MRC) Suffrage Award.


FBS Researchers volunteer to fight Ebola

17th February 2015

Four University of Leeds researchers have volunteered to fight the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone.


FBS Researchers discover viral code

4th February 2015

Researchers have cracked a code that governs infections by a major group of viruses including the common cold and polio.


Stroke damage mechanism identified

30th January 2015

FBS Researchers have discovered a mechanism linked to the brain damage often suffered by stroke victims—and are now searching for drugs to block it.


Impact
Stories

Professor John Altringham's research on the conservation of bat species has promoted the need for evidence based conservation practices

The Ponnambalam laboratory undertakes research relating to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

The Yorkshire Dales Environment Network is a partnership involved in the daily life and long term protection of the Yorkshire Dales.

Professor Eileen Ingham has led research over many years to develop improved approaches to aid healing and repair of soft tissues.

All impact stories