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Ground-breaking Future Gardens unveiled

Today (4th June 2009) the impressive new 27 acre Future Gardens visitor attraction near St Albans was unveiled by actress and patron Emilia Fox.

The pioneering conservation project, open from June to October, represents a notable achievement in the current economic environment. It is estimated that 200,000 visitors of all ages will explore the inspirational gardens over the next four months.

Future gardens

The focus of the event, the first of its kind in the UK, is its ongoing commitment to bio-diversity as the first phase of the £27m Butterfly World Project. It is a standard-bearer for the future as it re-establishes new wildlife habitats that have been destroyed by development. Its nectar-rich planting throughout the permanent and designer gardens offers a banquet for native species of butterflies and bees and other wildlife. The ultimate goal of the entire project is that it will flourish year on year as the permanent landscape develops.

Future gardens

By encouraging visitors to interact with all the gardens, Future Gardens aims to inspire and challenge visitors to think about how they can play their part in creating positive environments for wildlife. As such it is intentionally moving away from more traditional garden shows.

Marking the opening, actress Emilia Fox, a project patron says:

"The knowledge, passion and care of the team behind this project has helped create an inspirational showcase to be shared with the many thousands of people visiting Future Gardens - the first phase of Butterfly World. Butterflies are the inspiration behind this whole project and hold special memories for all of us. It is important that we hand those memories safely onto the next generation."

The 27 acre site, designed in the shape of a giant butterfly, is masterminded by the celebrated designer Ivan Hicks. The landscape creates a series of gardens and meadow areas, developed to increase the site's plant and animal diversity and provide a unique educational, scientific research and recreational resource. Key permanent garden features include 'antennae' walk-ways, a spiral 'proboscis' walk and a feature butterfly garden - each with specially selected nectar food plants to attract indigenous butterflies.

Future gardens

Clive Farrell the founder of the project adds:

"12 years ago I had a dream and sat down with landscape designers Ivan Hicks and Andrew George, drawing up our initial vision on scraps of paper. It is overwhelming to see that translated into reality today. Getting here has been quite a journey - especially in relation to the economic climate. But we've kept our focus on the end goal.

"We're looking forward to seeing the project evolve, not just over the next few months but over the next few years as we progress towards the ultimate goal of establishing the largest butterfly walkthrough experience in the world."

Future Gardens includes 12 showcase contemporary designer gardens from globally acclaimed designers as well as exciting emerging talent in the world of garden design. In a deliberate move away from high-cost show gardens, Future Gardens annual bursary scheme gives designers a budget of £25,000 to cover construction and materials. This frees them from having to secure sponsorship and ensures the selection panel are free to pick the best possible designs for the event, solely on the merit of the design. The designer gardens will change on an annual basis.

Viewed from above, the designer gardens enclosure take the form of the caterpillar of the Giant Privet Hawk Moth. Its body segments form the individual gardens.

Designer garden selection panelist, James Alexander Sinclair, garden designer, journalist and broadcaster said:

"Occasionally it is good to let the imagination soar. That is what Future Gardens is all about: to allow flights of fancy to fly and to give the offbeat room to roam. Let there be no constraints and let us throw convention to the four winds. The results are clear to see today. Visitors will be enchanted."