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Final call for Swansea schools, charities and community groups to nominate themselves in Dobbies’ ‘Helping Your Community Grow’

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There’s just one week left for Swansea residents to nominate schools, charities and community groups for Dobbies’ landmark community support initiative, Helping Your Community Grow.

The community focused initiative closes for nominations on Friday 2 July, so Swansea residents have one week to put forward a deserving project in their local area, to receive support from Dobbies’ Swansea store.

Helping Your Community Grow aims to make local landscapes greener around each of Dobbies’ 69 mainline stores across the UK, including its Swansea store, and will see Dobbies offering products, equipment and team support to deserving projects and outdoor spaces in need of a refresh.

Whether it’s a civic space, school vegetable patch or even a memorial garden, the local community is invited to apply for support from Helping Your Community Grow now via dobbies.com, before the submissions close on 2 July.

All nominations will be sent to the Swansea store’s team to review, with a shortlist then going to a public vote, so that the local community can have their say and vote for a project that’s important to them. One project per area will be chosen from the public vote to receive support from Dobbies, plus an overall national winner, who will receive additional support.

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Graeme Jenkins, CEO of Dobbies, said: “At Dobbies, we are passionate about helping the communities around our stores to thrive. Helping Your Community Grow is a fantastic initiative that will allow our instore experts to provide advice, equipment, products and support to projects that directly benefit Swansea’s residents.

“We are encouraging the Swansea community to tell us more about the exciting projects going on in the area, and we’re looking forward to seeing the final nominations coming in over the next few days.”

The criteria for shortlisted projects couldn’t be simpler; eligible projects must benefit a wide group of people in the local community, must be located within 20 miles of a Dobbies store, and must be able to be completed by February 2022.

Applications for Helping Your Community Grow close on Friday 2 July 2021.

For more information or to enter, visit: https://www.dobbies.com/helping-your-community-grow

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Carmarthenshire

Rare ‘Handkerchief Tree’ planted at Aberglasney to celebrate Platinum Jubilee

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To celebrate HRH The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Aberglasney Gardens has planted a rare Handkerchief Tree to commemorate the occasion.  

The Handkerchief (Davidia involucrata) tree is the first of its kind in the Gardens. It is a rare but highly sought-after tree, native to China. Also called the dove tree, it’s named after its beautiful white, flower-like bracts, which appear to flutter, like doves or handkerchiefs, in the slightest breeze. 

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According to Chinese legend, the handkerchief tree is the most romantic tree in China. It was introduced to the UK in the late 19th Century, by the famous plant collector named Ernest Wilson. He brought seeds back to the UK and his first tree flowered in 1906. 

Aberglasney’s Platinum Jubilee commemorative tree will be added to the Queen’s Green Canopy map, which is a digital record of the Jubilee tree planting projects across the United Kingdom.

Her Majesty and The Prince of Wales planted the first Jubilee tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle in March to mark the launch of the Queen’s Green Canopy.

With a focus on planting sustainably, the Queen’s Green Canopy Initiative encourages the planting of trees to create a legacy in honour of The Queen’s leadership of the Nation, which will benefit future generations.  

Jim Stribling, Aberglasney’s Director of Operations, said, “The ethos of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative is perfectly in line with our views on planting here at Aberglasney. We choose additions to these established areas carefully. We feel the unique beauty of the handkerchief tree marks the special occasion that is the Platinum Jubilee as well as offering visitors to the Gardens an opportunity to see a rare species when they visit.” 

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Aberglasney’s Board of Trustees retiring Chairman, Peter Burgess, and newly elected Chairman, Phil Ratcliffe, helped the team of gardeners plant the tree. Helen Scutt, member of the Board of Trustees, as well as a well-known local garden designer and landscaper, chose the tree. 

Aberglasney’s woodlands were probably planted in the early 1800s, when improving landowners replenished the timber stocks of the estate.

The Jubilee Woodland Garden’s bog-like conditions mean ferns, gunneras, hostas and large-leaved bog plants thrive. The Pigeon House Wood is enclosed with ancient hedge banks and is carpeted in spring with bluebells, orchids, ramsons and wood anemones.  

(Lead image: Aberglasney Gardens)

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Gardening

Dobbies search for Swansea’s ‘Not Your Average Gardener’

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UK garden centre chain, Dobbies, is on the lookout for Swansea’s best gardeners with its Not Your Average Gardener Awards, launching today (Wednesday 3 August). 

Research conducted by the garden centre from Independent Media News earlier this year saw 76% of Brits couldn’t wait to get back into the garden.

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Dobbies’ Swansea store is now looking to tap into this interest and discover the talent out there through its Not Your Average Gardener Awards.

A team of star-studded gardening enthusiasts will be judging the awards, including Broadcaster, Jo Whiley, Dobbies’ Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles, ITV This Morning’s Daisy Payne and Dobbies’ Ambassador and gardening influencer, Henry Agg.

Dobbies is looking to celebrate four gardeners, all with a passion for planting in their own unique way, with up to £5,000 worth of prizes and a virtual consultation with Marcus Eyles on how best to maximise their space.

Sustainability is at the core of the awards and Dobbies’ Swansea store is searching for those who support local wildlife, better the environment and use sustainable gardening techniques to enter. Dobbies’ team members will be on hand to offer the winners advice on how to spend their prize and bring their space to life.

There are four categories for the Not Your Average Gardener Awards, including Most Sustainable Gardener, Best Mini Garden Makeover, Best Houseplant Parent and Best Young Gardener (under 16 years).

Jo Whiley is delighted to be on the panel: “Gardening is a huge passion of mine, and I would encourage anyone to try it as a hobby. Being out in your green space, no matter the size, is a great chance to take a moment for your own wellbeing.

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“I’m really excited to be on Dobbies’ judging panel this year. Whether a houseplant enthusiast, a keen gardener growing fruit and vegetables on an apartment balcony, a child discovering ways to make their green space bloom or gardening newbie creating plant borders, I’m excited to hear how Brits are giving gardening a go no matter their space or experience.”

Dobbies’ Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles, adds: “We’ve seen a positive increase in gardening over the past year, with customers across Swansea looking to try something new in their green space. At Dobbies we’re always on the lookout for passionate gardeners and our Not Your Average Gardener Awards are a great opportunity to shine a light on talent across Britain.

“Sustainability is at the core of our awards, and we’re extremely proud to offer a strong range of sustainable Dobbies’ products, including our award-winning peat-free compost, that benefit both the garden and environment.”

Nominations can be submitted at dobbies.com by filling out a simple form and submitting images. Deadline for submissions is 26 August. All entries will be reviewed by the panel of expert judges and winners will be announced September 2022. 

Lead image: Dobbies’ Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles and broadcaster, Jo Whiley.

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Construction

University expertise to help new ‘Living Building’ residents to grow own food on roof

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Swansea University’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) is a key partner in a pioneering ‘Biophilic Living‘ initiative which is said to provide a radical new approach to living and working within the city.

A first for the UK, the University says this unique project will trial a new, scalable model that is set to change the way we conceive of inner-city housing in Wales.

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The construction will transform the former Woolworths store on Oxford Street in central Swansea – opposite Waterstones bookshop – and feature a new adjoining 13-storey structure.

It will be a mixed-use building with affordable and shared ownership housing, retail and low carbon commercial office space.

Residents will have the capacity to grow their own produce using the integral urban farm facility. Featuring two south-facing greenhouses at roof level, the building will use an aquaponics system, developed by Swansea University academics, designed to produce up to 4.5 tonnes of fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs per year.

Aquaponics is a food production system that creates a continuous cycle where waste produced by fish, living in on-site tanks, adds nutrients to the water which feeds the greenhouse plants. The water is then filtered and recirculated back into the system. The process will be explained in an educational public display on the ground floor of the tower

The project has been awarded funding through the Welsh Government Innovative Housing Programme.

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Professor Geoff Proffitt, head of biosciences at Swansea University, explains: “The Biophilic Living development will clearly be an inspirational building for the people who will live and work there, but it is more than an exciting home and workplace. The building will be driven through with cutting-edge biological, design, and engineering innovations. It will be a living, working example of great design, innovation and existing technology combining to support and nurture human health and wellbeing.

“The Biophilic Living plan and the ethos that underpins its design and development is a focus for change, the start of a new sustainable, Biophilic urban regeneration of Swansea. If we are to fully respond to increasing global challenges, urban development and redevelopment will have to take a lead.

“The project will contribute to local and global goals to address the climate change emergency, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Architects, designers, engineers and scientists will need to combine their skills to respond to these complex and immediate challenges. Biophilic Living is our first example of this collaborative approach”.

Swansea-based Hacer Developments is behind the scheme which has been designed by Swansea architects Powell Dobson. It is a result of extensive collaborative working among a range of local organisations, including Swansea University, the Active Building Centre, Public Health Wales, Swansea Community Farm and Sero Homes Ltd.

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The ‘living building’ is being funded by a mixture of private sector funding and funding from the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme, Pobl and the Development Bank of Wales.

The building is earmarked for completion by the end of 2023.

(Lead image: Powell Dobson / Hacer Developments)

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