Wildlife gardening at Great Dixter

Listen to this podcast! What does it mean to be a wildlife gardener? What are the trials and tribulations of wildlife gardening? Fergus Garrett, head gardener of Great Dixter, takes a walk around the garden, where he discusses the habitats he and his team have created to help wild species. He points out various habitats that work for different species, including the pond, the flowering meadows and the giant piles of waste that serve as nesting and hibernation habitats for all sorts of species. The podcast ends with the notion of the immense importance of gardens and porous buildings to increase biodiversity. Nice to hear him use the word “Porosity”. It is one of the three design tools to build for biodiversity, besides variation in size and scale, and diversity in use and maintenance activity (First guide to nature inclusive design).

https://open.spotify.com/episode/1Kq1hE1xt2N24O34z6egNS?si=tHSVErdSTYKU-TevTfcB1w

Biotope City Conference Recordings Online Now

Friday 24th of September 2021 the Biotope City conference took place with more than 160 participants from Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Italy and other countries. Now the recordings are avaible online. Please see the little movies per speaker below, or watch the entire conference moderated by nextcity.nl’s Mathias Lehner here (4 hours).

Helga Fassbinder, founde of Biotope City Foundation: Biotope City – Philosophie, Konzept, Prinzipien (14 mins)

Bernhard Scharf, Green4cities, BOKO: Green Cover Effects (11 mins) Angelique Bellemakers, INBO architects: Participation of residents (8 mins) Marlies Zuidam, FAAM architects : Nature inclusion of fauna (14 mins)

Maria Auböck, Auböck+Carasz landscape architects: Building management and open space care (16 mins)
Brenda Swinkels, Van den Berk nurseries: Urban-climate-trees and insect diversity (19 mins)
Tim Elfring, Phood Kitchen Eindhoven: Urban farming (11 mins)

Florian Kraus, Greenpass, BOKU: Micro-climate simulation (11 mins)
Florian Reinwald, Institute of Landscape Planning ILAP, BOKU: Regulations – revisions and regulations in building law (10 mins)
Jeanne Astrup-Cauvaux, Raumlabor: Floating University Berlin (14 mins)

Bio beauty lecture series

In the document-link you can find the program and the link to follow the english spoken series of 5 lectures about design and biodiversity, organised by Van Hall Larenstein. Designing with nature is an important part of the work of the landscape architect. The first lecture on the 2nd of September at 19h will be given by Maike van Stiphout. She’ll give a theoretical frame for nature inclusiveness, and learn you the tools to make your projects for all that lives. She’ll present the tips and tricks, distilled from a recent research of older nature rich neighbourhoods in the Netherlands, some interesting realised projects of her office DS and other good examples of building with biodiversity. The series is organised for the third year bachelor landscape design, but open to whoever likes to learn more about designing for all that lives with us.

20 ideas for integrating biodiversity

(c) Amsterdam Municipality

Biodiversity experts Anne Blokker and Geert Timmermans of the Amsterdam Municipality compiled a brochure with 20 ideas how to integrate biodiversity in urban planning and development. The insightful publication was originally published in Dutch, but is now also available online in English.

From nesting bricks for birds, over green roofs and eco-friendly banks up to an interconnected ecological structure these richly illustrated 26 pages make it easy to explain the benefits, and paths of action to clients, spatial designers and colleagues.

The publication is freely available on issue.

Symposium: Climate resilient, green and nature inclusive city

On September 24, 2021 Biotope City Foundation Amsterdam/Vienna and the Viennese BOKU University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences organize an online symposium on the nature inclusive future of our cities.

The topics addressed will include the freshly realized Biotope City in Vienna, the Floating University Berlin and 10 sessions on top climate resilient strategies (such as sponge cities, participation, green cover effects, climate trees and urban farming), concluded by lessons learned for the future.

Speakers include Helga Fassbinder, Jeanne Astrup-Chauvaux next to Bernhard Scharf (Green4cities), Angelique Bellemakers (INBO architects) Marlies Zuidam (FAAM architects), Maria Auböck (Atelier Auböck+Karasz), Brenda Swinkels, van den Berg Nurseries, Tim Elfring (Phood Kitchen), Steven Delva (Delva Landscape Architecture Urbanism), Pia Minixhofer & Sebastian Hafner (BOKU), Florian Kraus (Greenpass) and Florian Reinwald, (Institute of Landscape Planning ILAP).

Moderator: Mathias Lehner, research director nextcity.nl and strategic advisor urban development Zaanstad Municipality

Date: 24th September 2021
Time: 9:00 – 13:00 hrs, online
More info and program in English and German here.

If you want to join, please register with an email to contact@biotope-city.net.

The symposium via Zoom can be accessed here. Meeting-ID 914 3531 0298,code 918728.

Keep the distance – to city trees!

When it comes to value creation ‘climate’ trees (klimaatboom in Dutch) are playing on an olympic level. Financially houses are worth 8-15% more with adjacent green and trees according to brokers. Socially, people are happier in a green environment with trees. Old trees do even better: they evaporate more moisture and absorb more water (up to 500 times) than a young tree. So, how is it possible that trees often die young, whereas an old tree is much more valuable?

In cities, lack of expertise on how to lay out and dig for underground cables and pipes is a frequent reason for ermanent damage. Digging within 6 meters of a tree of 1 meter diameter or within 2 meters of a tree up to 30 cm diameter impacts the tree’s roots.Today, trees are sometimes placed on top of a cable and pipe or the cable is laid underneath. When the cable is replaced (once every 25 years) tree roots are severely damaged, and with fungal ingrowth, the tree dies a few years later. Ideally cables and pipes are at least 2 meters from trees if we want to get trees big and old. So, we can do better, can’t we?

In the past small trees were also planted on two sides in the sidewalk of narrow streets. With reduced fitness and less space for roots, growing old is a major achievement for a tree then! Today, often more space is reserved for trees, both above and underground, in order to have trees that age sustainably. A tree squeezed in between the pavement does not have a long life. 9 m3 of rootable space above the groundwater level is required for a small tree up to 6 meters in height. Want a large tree of more than 24 meters in height? You’ll need at least 65 m3 of rootable space. It’s no wonder that tree roots push up pavement when there is no space and moisture, while they are searching for nutrients.

So, keep the distance and give city trees the space they deserve, and let us humans enjoy the values created and the full range of ecosystem services to adapt to climate change.

This post is based on a memo by Frans Lubbers, maintenance specialist water and green @Zaanstad Municipality accompanied by an article by Bart Mullink in Boomzorg 3/2021.

How health and well-being in pandemic times relate to the use public outdoor space


Organized by Wageningen University assistant professor Agnes Patuano the symposium ‘Public Outdoor Spaces and Covid-19’ held on 24th and 25th of June, 2021 addressed the question “How will the COVID 19 pandemic impact the use and design of public spaces, and how was it impacted by them in the first place?”

The symposium brought together recent research from WUR, HvA, BOKU, Radboud University, Marie Curie University, University of Milan, Aeres University and Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina.

Mathias Lehner contributed with a talk on his approach and research on nature-inclusive public space, with a focus on reclaiming ‘car-space’ in cities, in order to redesign integral blue-green-grey networks that boost quality of public space, while contributing to human health and well-being. Read the summary here.



7 edible shrubs for improving urban biodiversity

7. Dog rose (Rosa canina)

Photo courtesy of Saxifraga. Photographer: Jan van de Straaten http://www.freenatureimages.eu

For our last edible shrub for improving urban biodiversity, we invite you to stop and smell the roses – the dog rose (Rosa canina) to be precise. A native rose prized for its flowers and rose hip fruit, this scrambling shrub is bound to win your heart. Found in the wild in hedgerows and woodland edges, the dog rose looks – and smells – stunning during summer with its elegant pink and white flowers. A vigorous grower, the dog rose will happily claim its space, if you let it, climbing up to 4 metres high. Its long overhanging branches create a striking, arched form. Canina stems from Canis,the Latin word for dog as it was believed that the roots of a dog rose could heal a bite from a rabid dog.  

Take the time to savour the beauty of a dog rose in full bloom. This abundance of flowers, which are rich in nectar and pollen, makes the dog rose a favourite food source for bumblebees, wild bees and honeybees. Furthermore, the rose petals are an exquisite culinary ingredient. They make spectacular decoration on top of a cake and impart a floral hint to honey, vinegar, wine, jam, jelly and candy. Why not try making your own rosewater and rose syrup with your blooms too?

Another reason you’ll love the dog rose are its rose hips. Covered with oval red/orange hips which appear after the flowers, the branches make an attractive floral decoration – though remember to leave some for the birds. When the rose hips ripen in autumn, birds such as redwings and fieldfares will be feasting in your garden. Plus, the thorny branches provide them a safe haven from (urban) predators. Rose hips are a superfood packed with vitamin C. While they’re a wonderful ingredient, removing the seeds (which can be an irritant) takes some dedication. Your hard work will pay off once you’ve taste your delicious jam, jelly and syrup. Both the dried petals and rose hips make excellent tea. 

Able to tolerate air pollution, strong (sea) winds, and rough handling, the dog rose is a tough cookie that thrives in urban conditions. In the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty/ Little Briar Rose, the princess falls into a 100-year-long sleep after being pricked with a needle. The castle becomes covered with thorny roses – can you imagine the city overgrown with these exquisite blooms? Now that’s good reason for everyone to stop and smell the roses. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our seven edible shrubs for improving urban biodiversity and hope it has inspired you to create more urban nature in your city!

7 edible shrubs for improving biodiversity

6. Medlar (Mespilus germanica)


If you think that the medlar sounds like something oddly medieval, you’ve guessed correctly. Coveted in Roman and Medieval times, the medlar is a unique shrub that’s rarely planted today. With its pretty flowers and tasty fruit, which has an unfairly bad reputation, it’s a boost for biodiversity – all the more reasons for reviving it. If you’re looking for a characteristic and eccentric shrub for your urban garden, then the medlar may be for you. 

It was brought to the Netherlands by the Romans. Coveted as a winter delicacy, the medlar was likely forgotten over time as other fruits became more available during winter. The name Mespilus germanica refers to Germany, the confusion coming from Linneaus who thought that the shrub originated from there.

The medlar is a slow shrub in all senses of the word – patience is needed for its growth and to ripen the fruit. Its crooked branches are unmistakable; the French expression “As straight as an old medlar” referring to an untrustworthy person says it all.

When the shrub is in full bloom, the fragrance of the lovely large white flowers fills the air. Enjoy this treat for a couple of weeks in May, as will the bees, bumblebees, hoverflies and apple-and-plum casebearer moths. A few months later, around October, the round rust-coloured medlars look like they’re ripe for the picking. But wait. Medlars are inedible until they’ve been softened, or bletted to be precise. They can be left on the tree to soften, frozen, or picked unripe and bletted indoors, much like avocados or persimmons. And if you think you’ve accidentally left them to rot, don’t panic. When the skin and flesh have turned brown and mushy and there’s a heady smell of ripe apples, they’re ready to eat! Soft and sweet, medlars are little vitamin C bombs. A word of warning though: avoid the five rock hard seeds or risk breaking a tooth.

Traditionally medlars make excellent jam, jelly and liquer. Every part of the medlar is said to have medicinal benefits. Dried leaves are used to heal wounds and eating the fruit is said to improve one’s memory and alleviate menstrual pain. Though don’t overeat them because they have a laxative effect!

Bring the medlar back! With its striking contorted form, obscure but loveable fruit and flowers that are a feast for the eye and the insects, the medlar deserves a spot in any city. And lastly, don’t forget to bring your medlar walking stick on your next hike. 

Hidden treasures for a sustainable city – Biotope City Vienna

(c) image: Bauplatz 3 (ÖSW/Rüdiger Lainer + Partner) Visualisierung: Schreiner, Kastler

Praised by the advisory board of IBA_Wien because of “the consistent approach of a multi-layered implementation of contributions to climate adaptation in new neighborhoods” and the “scientific support for neighborhood development in connection with climate-relevant contributions” the new Biotope City Wienerberg urban quarter is an interesting and very recent urban development to study in more detail.

Biotope City Wienerberg will be presented as part of IBA_Wien in 2022 on an international level as an innovative model example for future solutions in connection with adaptation to climate change in urban areas. The project contains many qualities that are not immediately visible upon completion at the end of 2020. But already now, IBA Vienna has published the brochure “Hidden Treasures“, which describes the hidden treasures of this forward-looking district.

Published by: IBA_Wien 2022 – Neues soziales Wohnen
Content and editors: Knollconsult Umweltplanung ZT GmbH Prof. Dipl.-Ing.in Dr. Helga Fassbinder Institut für Landschaftsplanung, BOKU Wien Articles by: Stiftung Biotope City Green4Cities GmbH, DI Thomas Romm, forschen planen bauen, ZT Lehner Real Consulting GmbH, Stadtteilarbeit Caritas der Erzdiözese Wien
Graphics and layout: Knoll Kommunikation GmbH