The Forge Garden, Yorkshire

Project: The Forge Garden, Yorkshire

Environmental consultancy Wildscapes is celebrating with client Sheffield Forgemasters, as its project has been awarded Gold in the prestigious Yorkshire in Bloom Awards.

Sheffield Forgemasters, global manufacturers of forgings and castings, was recognised in the Business Premises category for its excellent floral displays at its manufacturing plant in Sheffield. This included heavy steel rails, which were transformed into pergolas and seven tonne crucibles into ‘plant pots’ – both commended by competition judges.

These stunning displays were part of the transformation of the site, by Sheffield-based Wildscapes, which had been left devastated following the floods in South Yorkshire in June 2007. After the floods, the company’s response was to work with nature to reduce the risk of further natural disasters of this type by creating a one-acre wildlife area at the heart of the 64-acre site.

Vicky Smith, Chief Executive of Wildscapes, said: “Our landscape designers were brought in to maximise the ecological potential of the site and provide an amenity for staff and clients, which has become known as The Forge Garden.  By working closely with stakeholders such as WRAP, the local authority planning department and the Environment Agency, we tackled issues around sustainability, biodiversity, contamination and flooding.”

Working alongside Wildscapes’ ecologists, its designers developed a diversity of habitats – a mix of woodland, wetland, meadow and perennial planting across the site. One of the centrepieces of the display is a roundabout at one of the entrances, which has been planted up to replicate the company’s distinctive logo.

Sustainable techniques were employed, including rainfall run-off from a nearby car park collected into the wetland area, which reduces drainage demands in an innovative and environmentally sustainable way. Wildscapes also planted more than 6,500 sq ft of native British trees, shrubs and plants along with more exotic varieties to enhance the aesthetics of the area for staff and visitors and encourage more wildlife.

“We are really proud to have been able to create a contemporary landscape that captures the spirit of the place, while keeping true to its industrial heritage and surroundings,” continues Vicky Smith of Wildscapes.   “We are delighted that Sheffield Forgemasters has been recognised with this award which is a great example of an industrial business working with its natural environment.”

Yorkshire in Bloom visited Forgemasters this summer and judged the site on impact and overall presentation, standard of horticulture, special floral features, staff involvement, floral displays, permanent landscaping and environmental factors.

Judges for the Yorkshire in Bloom competition said: “Forgemasters is something of a hidden treasure.  It is well maintained and the planned-out features of horticultural excellence have to be seen to be believed and enjoyed.”

Sharon Ward, Group HR Director for Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “We have had some fantastic feedback from clients touring the facilities who have said how it is an unexpected delight to find this garden in the midst of the industrial feel of the plant.   It is great in the summer to be able to walk up there and have lunch in the beautiful surroundings. Since winning bronze in the competition last year, we have continued to maintain and improve the wildlife areas, with staff taking ownership of the planted areas, which gives everyone here a sense of pride in the company.”

Wildscapes is an environmental consultancy, based in Sheffield, that provides ecological surveys, ground maintenance and landscape creation to protect biodiversity across the Yorkshire and Humber regions.  As well as undertaking surveys and advising on ecological issues, Wildscapes also designs landscapes and provides land management services, which improve the environment for wildlife and for people.

For more information, contact Wildscapes on 01142 792667 or visit the website www.wildscapes.eu.