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The importance of the horticultural industry in city greening initiatives

The ornamental horticulture industry makes a significant contribution to city greening initiatives. This is the theme of the AIPH Green City Conference on September 20, 2023. Organized by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH), the conference is part of the 75th AIPH Annual Congress, which takes place in Suncheon, Republic of Korea, from September 17-21.

AIPH has an active and successful green city initiative that promotes the benefits of plants in creating liveable, resilient cities. The benefits are based on scientific evidence and supported by successful implementation in practice. These are presented as the green city principles in the AIPH Green City Guidelines and showcased in the AIPH Green City Case Study collection.

New to the Case Study Collection are examples from around the world that demonstrate the increasingly influential role that the ornamental horticulture industry is playing in creating and maintaining green cities.

“Our biggest challenge is how people order” – learning from Eagle Lake, a Canadian Nursery. Plant growers are a critical player in the successful implementation of policies and programs investing in green infrastructure to enhance climate resilience, public health, and well-being in a city environment. However, growers are rarely included in discussions at the municipal level about landscape specifications or planting strategies. Anita Heuver, Owner of Eagle Lake Nursery, shares her experience in contributing evaluation and advice for producing hardy plants in a very harsh climate to meet green city planting needs. She emphasizes the importance of communication, understanding of the plant growing process, collaboration, and qualification.

The Sathonay-Camp Arboretum: Enhancing tree species knowledge to support resilient canopy growth
Lack of plant knowledge has long been recognized as a primary obstacle to species diversification in urban plantings. To change this, the Greater Lyon Authority is supporting its campaign to increase tree planting in the private realm with the creation of a public arboretum. Part of a new residential park, Sathonay-Camp Arboretum showcases species resilient to future climate changes and adapted to the growing conditions found in the small private gardens that characterize large sections of the local urban fabric. This forward-thinking builds upon a strong local culture of collaboration with local private-sector green professionals, including local tree nurseries, which are regarded as strategic partners in the development and implementation of all key urban forest management decisions. This, in turn, has boosted the confidence of local growers, such as the Daniel Soupe Nursery, to make the long-term investment needed to enable the delivery of the Sathonay-Camp Arboretum and the wider implementation of large-scale species diversification.

St Andrews Botanic Garden rethinks its purpose in response to climate change
Located within the St Andrews University campus in Fife, Scotland, St Andrews Botanic Garden has undertaken a fundamental re-design of its site and purpose that now enables it to serve green infrastructure professionals. Its new focus is to provide greater insight into the plant communities that are local to Fife (including its urban habitats) or that originate from other global locations with a comparable temperate climate. Through this, the botanic garden aims to facilitate predictive research into the ways that temperate flora might interact, evolve, and adapt to new conditions. This strategic shift has enabled the garden to cut its carbon footprint by 90% while reaching new audiences.

“Le Champ”: A forest neighborhood making its own soil and growing its own trees on-site
Young trees grown on site are proven to be better equipped to deal with the local climate and to recover much better from their transplantation into their final location. Is it possible, however, to create a successful new “forest neighborhood” for companies in the creative industry sector within a site that has no soils to speak of other than compacted rubbles, is subject to complex phasing over long delivery timescales, and is expected to be delivered in accordance with strict low carbon footprint and high biodiversity standards? This was the challenge undertaken at Le Champ, in the heart of Lyon, France. The solutions deployed are fascinating and full of learning opportunities for all protagonists and observers.

This Garden at this Hour: An approach to species diversification on green roofs
Underpinning this multifaceted project is a long-term relationship between a horticulturist and the US’s first nursery to specialize in supplying plants for green roofs. ‘This Garden at this Hour’ is no common green roof. It is designed as a battlefield, where each of the species present is invited to deploy its preferred adaptation strategies to move freely and take over space. The green roof offers a rare heaven for birds and pollinators in the heart of Washington, DC. It also provides a stunning display for the 18,000 employees and support staff who work within the US Government’s Food and Drug Administration’s White Oak campus – the mission of which is evoked through the inclusion of medicinal plants. At a time when cities increasingly rely on green roofs to bring nature and the services it provides into the heart of cities, the shared approach and technical know-how displayed in this roof garden is a worthwhile reference to consider for inspiration.

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