Eastbourne’s picturesque seafront and traditional seaside town atmosphere draws in 4.9million visitors each year, many of whom take time to visit the borough’s many green spaces and promenade with its renowned carpet gardens.
The Landscape Group began to work with Eastbourne Borough Council in 2008, having won a 10-year grounds maintenance contract to care for, maintain and develop the borough’s diverse open spaces. The long-term nature of the contract has enabled the company to invest in infrastructure by purchasing depot and office accommodation specifically for the contract in 2010. The contract covers a diverse range of grounds maintenance services including:
- Grass cutting – The contract contains 12,458Ha of grass including areas of fine turf, semi-natural grass, conservation areas, sports pitches, highways and roundabouts. Fine sports turf areas include 2 Pitch and Putt courses, 2 bowling greens and a cricket square. Further sports pitches include 28 football pitches, 4 rugby pitches, a running track and athletics facilities; maintenance of these areas includes annual renovations, pest and weed control, setting out and line marking.
- Hard surface sports facilities – Services include line painting, sweeping, spraying and general maintenance of hard tennis courts, artificial grass running tracks and football pitches, a petanque piste, basketball court, BMX and wheeled play parks.
- Horticulture – The Eastbourne team manages the supply, planting, irrigation and maintenance of annual bedding displays, herbaceous borders, shrub beds, roses, bulb planted areas, climbing plants, hanging baskets and planters throughout areas managed by Eastbourne Borough Council, including the seafront carpet gardens.
- Playgrounds – The team maintains 42 play areas in the borough, carrying out weekly safety inspections to RPII standards, with an annual safety inspection from an independent third party. Any minor repairs required are dealt with promptly. The Landscape Group’s VO (Variation Order) team carries out any construction works or installation of new playground equipment requested.
- Invasive species removal – The team carries out the removal of invasive species as required, the majority of which concern Japanese Knotweed or Giant Hogweed.
- Cemeteries Maintenance – A full cemetery maintenance service is provided to 2 cemeteries and 1 crematorium within the borough. The services delivered include maintenance of grass, horticultural features, paths and roads within the boundaries in addition to grave digging (manual and mechanical), interment of ashes, exhumations, cleansing of chapels, supply and planting of memorial trees and roses and repairs to memorial plaques. The team carries out circa 200 burials each year.
- Cleansing Services – Litter picking and emptying of 220 dog waste bins and 160 general litter bins, manual sweeping, autumn leaf collection, graffiti removal and fly tipping removal. The VO Team also supplies and installs new bins as directed by the council. The team also provides cleaning services for 2 pavilions within the borough.
- Asbestos Checks– Carried out to all pavilions, outbuildings and shelters in schedule with audit requirements.
- Green Waste Recycling – The amount of green waste generated on this contract is significant, totalling 2,112 m3 per annum. A closed loop recycling facility was established to address this, and all green waste is processed at a local site and then redistributed on the contract sites when ready, in line with our environmental strategy (accredited to ISO 14001).
- Water Features - Maintenance of 4 ponds and lakes within the borough. The team carries out bank repairs and silt removals with lifebuoy inspections and maintenance as specified.
- Landscaping works – Eastbourne requires a number of one-off works issued as variation orders, many of which are construction related. In 2009, in agreement with the authority the company set up a dedicated landscape team known as the VO Team. This enables Eastbourne to have a rapid response service, a skilled and competent team whilst also being cost efficient working on agreed margins. The VO Team of two carries out soft and hard landscaping works as directed by the council. Works have included the Bexhill Phase 2 project at Bexhill seafront, building walls, installation of benches and bins, path laying and edging, planting of architectural plants, installation of street furniture, play equipment, bins, gates, bollards, signage and large rocks in play areas.
- Attendant Service – The Landscape Group provides two attendants over the weekend at Old Town rec and Archery rec, this is an extra and not contractual so the client pays for this service
- Pesticide Application and Weed Control- The team includes 14 operatives qualified to PA1 and PA6 who carry out control of weeds, moss, algae and fungal infections using backpack spraying, mobile spraying and new infrared application technology.
- Manual Snow and Ice Clearance
- Site clearance – Removal of rubbish and flytipping, removal of scrub, bramble and overgrown areas, repairs to gates and fences.
In addition to maintenance and landscaping services, The Landscape Group manages Eastbourne’s Green Flag site, Princes Park and the submission of its annual Green Flag application. The team also takes an active role in the community; Contract Manager Darren judges the annual ‘School Badge’ competition,
from which the winning school will see their design turned into a bed in the carpet gardens. We assist Friends groups such as Friends of Hampden Park and Friends of Princes Park by offering advice on matters such as Health and Safety and setting up equipment at scheduled events. A number of organisations such as Army Cadets, Queen Elizabeth Foundation for Disabled People, Chalk Farm (centre for people with disabilities) and The Prince’s Trust have been given the opportunity to carry out work experience with the team and we have also donated labour and materials to a number of projects such as the borough’s Lady Diana Memorial Garden and the Shinewater Community Fun Day.
The Carpet Gardens
Perhaps the most famous part of this contract, the carpet gardens date back to the 1880s and continue to attract visitors from around the world. Our team of gardeners report that horticultural clubs from Canada have visited specifically to observe and ask questions about the methods used to create and maintain the intricate designs.
The carpet gardens utilise two styles of planting to create a high impact. The side borders are planted with traditional bedding consisting of brightly coloured spring and summer varieties. During the summer season, the central beds are planted in true ‘carpet’ garden style with specialist foliage plants. These are laid out in geometric designs requiring up to four hundred plants per square metre. Foliage plants are used as they allow for trimming every three weeks to ensure that the patterns are maintained in a crisp fashion, something which is not possible with floral bedding plants. At the west end of the carpet gardens, two rectangular beds are set aside for special features.
Each year a new theme is found and in many instances external funding is found to create a commemorative bed. These themed beds have included the Red Arrows, the Golden Jubilee, Trafalgar, Coast Magazine and East Sussex Federation of Townswomen’s Guilds. Each year’s design is ready for June, with 2013’s feature being ‘The Bee Cause’ as part of the campaign to plant more bee friendly species in the UK. The entire bed was planted with bees in mind.
The historical significance of these gardens as one of the few remaining examples of this style of gardening in the UK has not gone unnoticed. In 2013, The Landscape Group and Eastbourne Borough Council were approached by Outline Productions, who were producing the new BBC2 show ‘Great British Garden Revival’. On 20th August 2013, gardening television presenter Christine Walkden met with the Seafront team to film the gardens and interview them about the specialist techniques needed to keep them to the high standards seen in Eastbourne. The carpet gardens were featured in the ‘Fruit Trees and Ornamental Bedding’ episode first aired on 13th January 2014.