Celebrating quality - The 2008 BALI Awards

Landscape skills and best practice were recognised at the BALI Awards. Magda Ibrahim reports.

This contemporary private garden by Graduate Gardeners won the BALI Design and Build award - photo: BALI
This contemporary private garden by Graduate Gardeners won the BALI Design and Build award - photo: BALI

The very best projects and practice in the landscape sector were showcased at this year's BALI Awards. Historic landscapes, new developments and private gardens were among schemes recognised for their exceptional standards of work.

The skills of the next generation of landscaping professionals were also highlighted at the 32nd annual awards, which covered 30 categories.

During the ceremony, BALI chief executive Sandra Loton-Jones took the opportunity to give guests an update of the key issues affecting the industry: "I applaud those BALI members who have, in times of adversity, taken it upon themselves to develop staff training, designed permeable paving solutions and extended their expertise to now include green roof and wall technology."

She added: "Out of this current climate that faces the industry in so many ways I would reiterate my request for industry to work together."

BALI received more than 160 entries for this year's awards. Willerby Landscapes picked up the Grand Award for the work it carried out on Chavasse Park in Liverpool.

- Grand Award
Willerby Landscapes
- Domestic Garden Scheme - Construction cost less than £20,000
Bond Landscaping
- Domestic Garden Scheme - Construction cost between £20,000 and

The Garden Company
- Domestic Garden Scheme - Construction cost between £50,000 and

Landscape Centre
- Domestic Garden Scheme - Construction cost over £100,000
Landscape Centre
- Domestic Garden Scheme - Construction cost over £250,000
Wright Landscapes
- Domestic Garden Scheme - Maintenance Only
Craig Hamilton-Smith Garden Design
- Soft landscaping - Under 1ha
Oak View Landscapes
- Soft Landscaping - Over 1ha
Tony Benger Landscaping
- Hard Landscaping - Under £300,000
English Landscapes
- Hard Landscaping - Between £300,000 and £1.5m
Bell Gardens
- Hard Landscaping - Over £1.5m
Willerby Landscapes
- Land Renewal and Regeneration Scheme
Landcraft Projects
- Landscape Design Excellence Award
Christine Parsons
- Best Use of Lighting Award
Graduate Gardeners
- Grounds Maintenance - Single Sites
English Landscapes
- Grounds Maintenance - Multiple Sites
Quadron Services
- Grounds Maintenance of Business and Private Grounds
Willerby Landscapes
- Interior Landscaping Installation
ISS Waterers Landscape
- Interior Landscaping - Maintenance
PHS Greenleaf
- Design and Build Award
Graduate Gardeners
- Best Newcomer
Mulberry Grounds Maintenance
- Employer of the Year Award
John O'Conner Grounds Maintenance
- International Award
International Greenview Landscape Design
- Landscape Contribution to Education Award
The Company of Landscapers
- Special Award - National Monument Award
UPM Tilhill
- UK Skills Landscaping Competition - Intermediate
Aspect Landscaping
- UK Skills Landscaping Competition - Advanced
Otley College and Chichester College
- The Geoffrey Chalk Travel Sponsorship
Tom Hedges of Sentry GroundCare
- The BALI Recognition Award
John O'Conner
National Monument Award
Winner: UPM Tilhill
Project: The Armed Forces Memorial, Croxall Road, Alrewas
Architect/designer: Liam O'Connor Architects
Value: £200,000 (landscaping)

The landscaping work on this prestigious project had to be second to none, because it was due to be opened by the Queen at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The Armed Forces Memorial was created to recognise the men and women who have given their lives in service of the country since the end of World War Two.

UPM Tilhill landscapers were tasked with creating the meticulous landscape surrounding the Portland stone memorial.

A gently spiralling path leads down from the memorial, lined with carefully clipped evergreen trees. UPM Tilhill planted 57 of the 4m-tall Holm oaks - each valued at £2,500 - to offset the monument, complete with laying 7,500sq m of turf.

"It was a huge privilege and an honour to have undertaken such a key role in the creation of this prestigious national project," says UPM Tilhill district manager Richard Sochacki. "It is wonderful to help bring to fruition such a grand design that draws together landscape and sculptural elements to such powerful effect. You really cannot fail to be moved by the result."

Judges praised the project, saying: "Work was completed to an excellent standard on a fixed deadline, due to the royal opening."

The tree planting was the main challenge as standard pneumatic breakers failed to cope with the demands of driving three anchors per tree into the crushed-brick subsoil. The team overcame this by adapting a power drive bar fixed onto a pneumatic breaker, itself fitted onto a 360 degs excavator.

Design and Build Award
Winner: Graduate Gardeners
Project: Private
Designer: Mark Draper, Graduate Gardeners

The original brief was to provide a simple, strong design that would complement the more contemporary feel of the interior of the house.

The house itself did not blend with its surroundings, feeling extremely exposed - both from the strong south-westerly wind and the lack of any sense of enclosure, privacy or intimacy.

A large part of the task was to fit the house into its landscape context, bordering a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Grounds Maintenance - Multiple Sites
Winner: Quadron Services
Project: Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

Quadron Services has this year been awarded a second term of providing grounds maintenance services for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

The north Somerset firm initially won the contract in 2001 and the new agreement is a 12-year partnering contract for the borough's 300 acres (121ha) of open spaces.

It includes managing and maintaining Green Flag-accredited Holland Park, with its famous Kyoto Japanese Gardens.

Holland Park is Kensington & Chelsea's biggest single green area, covering 54 acres (22ha) of parks and gardens. Quadron Services' most recent project has involved the installation of bumble bee hives.

Quadron also looks after the social services sites throughout the London borough, along with all parks, gardens, cemeteries and grave digging.

It also carries out: sports pitch maintenance; shrub, flower and rose bed maintenance; interior landscaping; parks patrol and security; and sports management.

Soft Landscaping - Under 1ha
Winner: Oak View Landscapes
Project: Warley Hospital Phase 1 and 2, Pastoral Way, Warley, Brentwood
Architect/designer: Sean Vessey, Liz Lake Associates, Essex

A strong, geometric building layout at the Warley Hospital site meant that planting had to be extensive as a contrast to the architectural form.

Oak View Landscapes was contracted by City & Council Construction to install the soft landscape to the site.

Works included planting trees, shrubs, hedges, herbaceous plants and climbers, together with bark mulching beds and turfing to create lawn areas.

The scheme includes clipped hedges to form the structure, with shrubs and herbaceous plants contributing colour and interest at the lower level.

The clipped hedges are evergreen, using mainly yew and box. The style of the planting is late Victorian/early Edwardian.

The judges praised the scheme for its "visually stunning landscape", which reflected the original design of the grounds.

The quality of the planting soil presented some challenges, and the judges noted that the project's complexity required "good setting out and plant knowledge from the site supervisor."

Best Newcomer
Winner: Mulberry Grounds Maintenance
Project: Turville Court, Oxfordshire

This country mansion nestles at the head of the Hambleden Valley in the Chilterns.

The house was built in 2000 and the grounds include a picturesque rose and herb garden with an ornamental fountain and a walled kitchen garden. There are also extensive lawns and hedges, and a track that runs around the perimeter of the garden.

For the first five years after the house was built, the grounds were looked after by a head gardener. However, when he left, the owners decided to outsource the contract.

Two staff from Mulberry work on the garden, and managing director Anthony Ussher or fellow director Lynn Rees visits the estate once a week to review progress.

Suggestions implemented by Mulberry include: changes to the fountain to increase the water flow; improvements to the estate's Wisteria; the replacement of some failing shrubs and dead lavender; and the supply of bark mulch to the woodland areas.

"Our goal was not to make vast changes," explains Ussher. "We wanted to build on the high levels of care that had previously taken place and to develop a range of best practices throughout."

Domestic Garden Scheme - Construction cost over £250,000
Winner: Wright Landscapes
Project: Private garden
Architect/designer: Andy Sturgeon, Brighton

Wright Landscapes constructed a split-level gravel garden featuring water, boulders, planting, local stone walls and meandering paths for this private garden, which forms part of a larger garden scheme.

Extensive planting was carried out in the gravel areas, featuring perennial and evergreen shrubs.

A water rill linked the upper garden and fernery with a raised bubbling bowl feature.

Dense shrub planting at the perimeter of the garden was used to add shelter and structure, while seats and statues are concealed among the planting.

Although the garden was designed as an addition to the main garden, the judges felt its integration into the existing landscape allowed it to form a major feature.

The judges added that the stone work and sculpture is "very powerful" and noted the cutting and positioning of the stone work was particularly successful.

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