The New Lanark Roof Garden

New Lanark logo     Planning & Preparation

New Lanark Roof Garden with visitors and view towards New Lanark Mill HotelWind, weight, water and access are all key limiting factors for roof gardens. In the event, the design went through a number of phases before being finalised. Some of these changes were dictated by Planning and Listed Buildings constraints. Care had to be taken to ensure that the garden would not present any risk to the original fabric of the historic A-Listed mill building, so careful weight and loading calculations were undertaken, and the building was closely monitored for any signs of stress during the construction phase. Happily, there were none. Mill No 2, after all, is an industrial building, designed for cotton-manufacturing. The garden must of course be safe and accessible for visitors of all ages. Most importantly, it was agreed that the roof garden should not be visible from ground-level, with, for example, no plants trailing over the parapet. Therefore it can only be seen from high levels - a garden in the sky.

New Lanark roof garden flowersThe growing conditions in a roof garden are much more difficult to contend with than those of 'normal' gardens. Plants need to be robust and able to withstand windy conditions. Harsh winds are not just a problem in buffeting plants around, they also dry essential water from the plants and their beds. Watering therefore has to be considered as an ongoing maintenance issue - though very long spells of dry weather are not something that are usually encountered in the Clyde Valley! Access for this garden means that all the building materials, compost, turf and plants had to be brought on to the roof with help of a massive crane, capable of reaching up on to the top of the six storey mill.

New Lanark Roof Garden sculpture and plantsThe planters are filled with a mixture of lightweight compost, specifically designed for roof gardens, and Perlite, a lightweight material which keeps the compost open and free-draining, similar to grit in a normal compost mixture. There is also a top dressing of bark which not only suppresses weeds but also helps to retain the precious water in the beds. Drainage is of course essential to any garden, and particularly important on the roof of a Category A Listed building. A drainage channel runs around the edge of the roof, and a gentle fall from the centre ensures that water runs towards this. Additional weep-holes and drainage pipes were inserted in the base of the planters to ensure that they would not become waterlogged. Under the grassed and shrub areas are various layers of material designed to allow natural drainage down to a lower sub-surface drainage layer. This also has barriers within it which prevent the possibility of penetration by roots through the waterproof membrane which protects the roof of the mill.

LEADER - South Lanarkshire Rural PartnershipThis project is part-financed by the Scottish Government, European Community and the South Lanarkshire Rural Partnership LEADER 2007-2013 ProgrammeThe Scottish GovernmentThe European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - Europe investing in rural areas

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