R3111 Feb ‘17
Q3. Describe FIVE distinct site features or characteristics that could cause different microclimates within a garden.
This question comes from 2.1 of the syllabus:
2.1 State what existing features and characteristics need to be recorded.
Features to include: Access, buildings, hard landscaping, (e.g. paving, steps, walls, fences, pergolas, utility areas), trees and vegetation, services (underground and overhead).
Characteristics to include altitude, orientation, aspect, changes in level (topography), pollution, soil type, soil depth, soil pH, soil water content, drainage, views (from off-site, from house, within site, borrowed landscape), screening, exposure, shade, microclimate.
Although this is an example of a question which is worth 10 marks, it asks you to pick five features or characteristics, so is broken down into five smaller parts. The number is in bold and capitals making it easier to pick out. For this type of question it is a good idea to organise your answer by using numbers or bullet points for the five points.
As the question asks you to ‘describe’ longer answers are required.
There is a list of both site features and characteristics in the syllabus, some of which could cause different microclimates. It is important to be aware of what the term ‘microclimate’ means. Gardens will be in an area which has a general climate, but within the garden there will be different smaller areas that have their own specific climate.
The examiner’s comments point out that site factors that influenced the climate of the whole garden, such as altitude, latitude or proximity to the coast were not accepted. Answers that were acceptable included:
‘Orientation of a named feature or place within the garden, for example a south facing wall absorbs heat during the day to create a warmer microclimate or release heat at night’.
‘A feature creating shade or a large oak tree creating shade giving cool conditions below the tree in summer months’.
The word ‘distinct’ is also important to note. The examiner’s comments also mention that marks were lost if features or characteristics were repeated, such as north facing slope and south facing slope. When you see ‘distinct’ make sure your answers are as distinct as possible.