A visit to central Birmingham can sometimes surprise.  A trip to see if we could find various large owls set out at certain locations throughout the city as part of the “Big Hoot”. http://thebighoot.co.uk This is a huge art event to raise money and awareness of the Birmingham Children Hospital.  Whilst my children were less taken with the prospect of walking to find the next ‘Owl’ I found the experience very enjoyable.  Having not grown up in Birmingham and preferring the countryside to a city I found it offered me an opportunity to walk around the city see the changes taking place around Birmingham.  There seems to be a desire within the city to raise it’s profile and improve upon a less than impressive national image which does not reflect the wealth this city has to offer.  With retailers such as John Lewis moving in the whole atmosphere seems to be that of a city realising that it is capable of being more than just a metal bashing hub and capable of being a city of culture.

With my landscaping head on I was very taken with the roof garden seating area at the Birmingham Library. www.libraryofbirmingham.

So often roof gardens can be dull affairs, windswept, effected by drought and so often poorly planned and executed as an after thought and given such a poor budget that the design is compromised.  This does not seem to be the case here.  The architect has made the terrace a valued and integrated asset to the library.  With   careful positioned raised beds creating movement and seating areas movement through the terrace area became  more appealing.  The selection of planting was well selected and to date well maintained though I fear in time the planting will suffer from poor maintenance and failures and gaps will not be replaced due to financial pressures imposed upon the library and it’s running costs.  The street/terrace furniture was most attractive reflecting the curves of the landscaping and the buildings facade.  The use of wood for this contracted well against the metal work and the detail of paving.  As a municipal building the ability to draw people in and provide a viewpoint to see the city is valuable and I hope this raises the profile of good landscaping within an urban area.

 

My walk back to the station was equally interesting for as I rounded the corner from Birmingham’s Bullring towards the New Street Station a wall of vegetation appeared to my right.  The use of such vertical planting is not new but how I valued it.  It could have been so easy to have just put up another brick wall but maybe we now see how the use of plants can make a difference.  Less harsh to the eye with it tones of green and yellows the wall curves down to the station and reflects upon the stainless steel sheets that have been used on the stations facade.  I loved it and hope we can see more use of such features – Ps see if you can spot the garden designer in the image.

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