Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best Grounds

Winner - Nurture Landscapes & Cranfield University

Image credit: ©Nurture Landscapes
Image credit: ©Nurture Landscapes

Cranfield University is located in grounds that stretch to more than 700 acres and which include an extensive landscaped campus.

Nurture Landscapes has been solely responsible for the upkeep of the maintenance of the site that includes an airport, two hotels, sports and recreation facilities, student accommodation, technology park and laboratories - since August 2014.

It employs a dedicated team of six full time operatives to manage the grounds, including the maintenance and upkeep of two full size Rugby pitches, two full size football pitches, a 4G Multi use Games Area, cricket square and grass based athletics sports.  In addition the team is responsible for children’s play areas.

Nurture Landscapes and Cranfield have together looked to adapt and improve the existing landscape from an environmental perspective. A big success has been the installation of an Apiary housing three Honey Bee hives.  Nurture provides hive-side talks and demonstrations and in September carried out the first onsite Honey extraction event involving students and faculty staff who got to take a jar of fresh honey away with them.

Six vegetable allotment plots have recently been added to a 30-strong orchard planted in 2016 providing a space for students to grow their own with the support of Nurture who provide regular demonstrations and workshop events.

Within the grounds Nurture has recently installed beds of Urban Meadows as well as expanding on the existing Wildflower meadows and rural walkways to the neighbouring countryside.

Recently completed Woodland management and Biodiversity surveys are also feeding into a demanding Bio-diversity Action plan created by Cranfield to improve the landscape.  

Among numerous formal gardens on site is that of Cayley Lodge, a location for hosting world leaders and dignitaries. The Garden is maintained to meticulous standards by the Nurture team and embodies a quintessential English garden, with immaculate lawns, rose and herbaceous beds and stands of mature shrubs.

The remainder of the site’s impressive educational and scientific buildings are surrounded by structural amenity high quality landscapes, consisting of lawns, shrubs and trees, with the mature tree stock part of an on-going maintenance programme.

Cranfield is an expanding and innovative facility, with new buildings and landscape being added on an annual basis. A recent example is the Muavie road network, a Fully Wi-Fi enabled road being used to test driverless technologies, incorporating naturalised drainage and SUDS.

Nurture works closely with the client to monitor staffing levels and if necessary create additional positions to meet the increasing demands of one of the most innovative and forward thinking maintained green spaces in the UK.

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