Setting the example of sustainability

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Helped by the unique microclimate on the Ards peninsula, Mount Stewart manages the largest plant collection in the National Trust's ownership and is proving to be a valuable haven for some rare plants threatened by climate change in their native habitats.

Not safe from the perils of climate change, Mount Stewart is at risk of flooding in parts of the garden due to rising sea levels at nearby Strangford Lough. We are therefore an ideal location to highlight the impact of climate change and its impact on gardening.

On 9 and 10 October 2010, Mount Stewart  hosted an event to highlight the problems of climate change on our gardens. Visitors to Mount Stewart were able to visit the Garden Village, a special area created by the gardening staff, which included our 'Make the Pledge Tree'. This uniquely designed tree invited members of the public to make a promise to actively reduce their carbon actions. The pledges were then hung from the branches on the home-made tree.

The Garden Village also housed plant propagation demonstrations, green gardening tips and advice, an environmental trail for children, and advice on growing your own produce at home. The Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks generously donated sponsorship to host the two days of activities. These banks are committed to reducing their own environmental footprint, and actively support environmentally sustainable initiatives on both a local and global scale.

Our new nursery facility will provide the Trust with the opportunity to further propagate and preserve the collection at Mount Stewart and rear plants and cultivars on a higher level. The nursery is a model of environmentally friendly practice. Using an innovative rainwater harvesting system, the nursery is largely self-sufficient in its water requirements. Containers for plants are sourced from materials that would otherwise end up in landfills, and most of the compost used is produced right here on the property, using environmentally friendly recycling and composting systems -including our own potash, gained as a by-product from the woodchip boiler that fulfills much of the properties energy needs.

In all these ways and more, Mount Stewart is developing projects and daily routines to help meet the National Trust's goal of reducing its consumption of fossil fuels for heat and electricity by 50% by 2020.