From Drought to Flooding and the Problems with Silt - Giles Landscapes CMS
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From Drought to Flooding and the Problems with Silt

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In the Spring of 2012 our newsletter (pictured below) included an article about ‘How To Cope With Drought’ which put forward solutions to keep our landscapes and gardens flourishing.



Shortly after that newsletter went out it started to rain and rain and rain, which has resulted in parts of England experiencing their wettest January since records began more than 100 years ago.

Our Managing Director, Roger Giles, recently attended a seminar at The Roof Garden in London, which turned out to be very on-topic considering how much water Britain has actually had to deal with lately!

The event, presented by SWIG (Sustainable Water Industry Group), addressed the value of creating healthy, delightful cities in which water is used and enjoyed sustainably. There was much discussion involving modern initiatives and methods of water harvesting and conservation.

Unfortunately, the ability to contain and direct water has spiralled out of control as we see many areas throughout Britain currently being forced to deal with devastation and loss both emotionally and financially. The relentless high waters are causing many people to lose possessions, businesses to lose their assets, and farms to lose their agriculture and animal stocks.

Ironically, Roger’s journey home from that seminar in London involved a substantial detour because of flooding of the main access road A110 through Welney, Cambridgeshire, where he resides.

This month’s issue of our local village newsletter displays the status of local flooding on its front page, which has caused Giles Landscapes a great deal of inconvenience and financial challenges through transport diversions.



The area does however owe much gratitude to the Dutch Engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden, who in the 1650s directed major projects to drain The Fens of East Anglia, introducing the innovation of constructing washes to allow periodic flooding of the area by excess waters. An unforeseen consequence was a drop of land levels below the rivers and drains due to the shrinking of peat as it dried, which in turn lead to renewed seasonal flooding. It was not until the 19th century that this could be controlled with the development of steam-powered pumps used to pump out water. There was also the construction of additional water control projects in the 1960s.

Earlier solutions however are marred by a lack of river dredging for over 30 years which is also being considered as one of the major causes for our current situation here and in Somerset; the consequential build up of silt is causing extensive problems for land owners.

Those previous steps of innovation have given great protection to our Fenland villages and their dwellings, but we must on no level compare our local flooding to the emergency situations occurring in the South West of England and around Britain at the moment.

With the current persisting climate, Giles is constantly faced with landscaping issues due to water logging, affecting major commercial sites right through to private gardens. Site managers who knew us during the recession of the early 90s could not always understand the serious effects of site compaction due to heavy machinery and poor preparation of sites ready for landscaping.  This lack of preparation causes drainage problems resulting in expensive consequences for landscaping and planting – this is often still misunderstood today.

Our heartfelt thoughts go out to all the flood victims and we truly hope that the UK will begin to dry out soon. Hopefully SWIG’s vision of “modern initiatives and methods of water harvesting and conservation” will come to fruition, although this sounds like an obscene luxury at this moment in time!

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