Published: 10:09, 10 April 2019
| Updated: 10:11, 10 April 2019
A garden centre in Kent has set an ambitious target of becoming the ‘greenest retailer in the UK’.
Coolings Garden Centre in the Sevenoaks district of Knockholt already has one of the largest nurseries in the UK with a big selection of plants available across a vast fourteen-acre site.
Spring’s already a busy time for the team at Coolings.
Gardeners throughout Kent and beyond are already at work in their gardens ahead of what could potentially be another scorching summer.
Over one million plants are produced each year at the popular garden centre and nursery, and over 26,000 varieties of plants are stocked annually.
But that also means thousands of gallons of water will be needed amidst the threat of potentially low water levels this year.
“Our big goal is to become the greenest retailer in the UK because the environment is at the heart of our business,” said Gary Carvosso, Managing Director
“We want to encourage the creation of a habitat for wildlife, promoting a full range of bird care products for our native garden birds, plants and planting schemes for insects, bees, and wildlife such as hedgehogs.”
Part of the centre’s sustainability pledge is to educate and promote awareness of the environment amongst local schools, customers and the wider community.
“We have put together a series of commitments all centred around conserving and protecting our environment.”
The implementation of some of those commitments couldn’t be more timely.
Last year, Britain baked in the joint hottest summer on record with meteorologists wary of yet another sizzling summer in 2019.
This in turn has already prompted concerns for the country’s water supplies.
“We’re very conscious of water consumption and conservation and that is why we’ve installed two on-site reservoirs for harvesting rainwater,” continued Gary
Those reservoirs can hold the equivalent of six Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of rainwater or a whopping 7.2 million litres.
A piping system from the reservoirs connects to the buildings, glasshouses and polythene tunnels to collect rainwater and run off from on-site irrigation. This is then pumped back into the reservoirs for reuse.
“We also use drip irrigation and sub irrigation extensively, so our plants take up their water requirement through a capillary action, using less water and only the water they need.”
But it’s not just about saving water.
Coolings have also invested time, effort and money in coming up with sustainable alternatives to single use plastic.
People on the planet produce roughly 300 million tons of plastic each year but only half of it is disposable.
Petroleum-based plastic is not biodegradable and usually goes into a landfill where it is buried or it gets into the water and finds its way into the sea.
Thankfully, recyclable taupe pots - that use a carbon black pigment-free polypropylene which solves this issue - were introduced to the industry last year and Coolings did not stand idle.
The reusable plastic bags were also swapped for compostable carrier bags made from natural plant-based materials.
“We have launched the first public plastic pot recycling scheme in which customers, other garden centres and the general public can return all their plastic plant pots and trays,” added Gary
“They are then recycled and we’re aiming to recycle over 20 tonnes per year.”
Thousands of our plants are grown at Coolings’ own production nursery.
The nursery team - which includes six expert horticultural growers - grow 80% of bedding plants onsite (including 6,000 hanging baskets every year).
The centre is not reliant on imported stock but do sometimes source UK specialist growers for unusual or specimen varieties, which not only reduce their carbon footprint but also eliminates the risk of imported pests and diseases.
For more information about Coolings Garden Centre and their environmentally friendly campaign, visit their official website by clicking here, call 01959 532269 or email@example.com.
More by this authorJohn Leonidou