The Garden Bridge will be a new pedestrian footbridge with 6,000 sq m of garden featuring 270 trees, 2,000 shrubs, hedging plants and climbers, over 22,000 hardy perennials, ferns and grasses and 64,000 bulbs.
Willerby Landscapes Ltd, based at Edenbridge in Kent, won the contract with its innovative proposals for sourcing, planting and maintaining the vegetation for the first five years of the project.
Willerby joins internationally renowned designer Thomas Heatherwick, landscape designer and plantsman Dan Pearson (winner of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 Best in Show award), Arup (design lead), and Bouygues TP--Cimolai, the construction contractor appointed earlier this month.
The Garden Bridge will comprise five planting zones reflecting London's rich horticultural history, from the marshlands and garden markets of the South Bank to the cultivated ornamental gardens of the Northbank. The gardens will feature plants, trees and shrubs native to the UK, northern Europe and other parts of the world, carefully designed to frame and enhance views of the iconic landmarks of London.
Willerby Landscapes will be using Palmstead Nurseries and Deepdale Trees to cultivate plants for the Garden Bridge, after working with both companies on the landscaping of the Olympic Park in the pre-Games construction period and post-Games during the legacy transformation phase.
The nurseries will acclimatise the plants and enhance root development using an air pot method, which will help the plants to withstand higher wind speeds typical in the Bridge's location.
Cultivation of the plants will begin up to three years before they are planted in the unique environment over the River Thames, in soil ranging from a depth of 2m to 40cm. Planting will begin on the Bridge in November 2017 before it opens in the summer.
Willerby Landscapes's work, providing garden maintenance services for the Olympic Park South Plaza before and during the London 2012 Games, was recognised with a CEEQUAL award for outstanding sustainability.
Willerby's involvement with Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP) since 2013 has included extensive re-modelling, the construction of new 'hard' landscape features, and the building and installation of the Park's Pleasure Gardens and Promenade.
The company won, for an unprecedented fifth time, the top prize at the BALI National Landscaping Awards in December 2014 for their work on the South Park Plaza.
On Merseyside, Willerby Landscapes have been responsible for creating a huge roof garden on top of a mixed retail space as part of the Liverpool ONE regeneration project, with terraces, lawns, 450 trees, 20,000 shrubs, and water features as part of the largest open-air shopping centre in Britain.John Melmoe, Managing Director of Willerby Landscapes Ltd, said: "Willerby Landscapes Ltd is both proud and honoured in being selected as the Planting Contractor for the prestigious Garden Bridge scheme. Although planting doesn't commence until November 2017, work starts immediately with our Lead Nurseries and supply partners in acquiring Dan Pearson's exhilarating planting palette for the Garden Bridge. We look forward to working closely with the Trust, Dan and the main contractor Bouygues to deliver this exciting project for the people of London."