Dimitrisz Sopisz is the Grounds and Gardens Supervisor at our Mile End campus. In his profile, he talks about the planting of our campus orchard and the sustainability inititiatives across the campus including building hedgehog houses and planting a wildflower lawn.
I am originally from Hungary. I studied Horticulture Sciences and have a BSc in Horticulture Engineering. I have over 17 years of experience in garden design, soft and hard landscaping, garden maintenance and consultancy. I recently started a course called Social Therapeutic Horticulture.
I moved to the UK in 2010. Since then, I have worked for a garden maintenance company, a private school in North London (Head Gardener), run my own business and looked after the grounds and gardens of two stately homes (Head Gardener).
I’ve worked at Queen Mary for a year since January 2020 and I supervise five grounds staff. My team and I are responsible for the maintenance and improvement of all the grounds and gardens at the Mile End Campus. This includes anything from cleaning all external hard landscaping surfaces (litter picking, sweeping, emptying external bins, graffiti removal and pressure washing all external surfaces). My team looks after all the lawn areas, flower beds and borders, shrubberies and the cemetery. This includes anything from lawnmowing, hedge-trimming, planting, weeding and watering. In addition, I prepare short and long-term improvement plans.
Since I joined Queen Mary, the team and I completed several projects including:
The Orchard is one of my dreams. I grew up in the countryside where we had a good number of different fruit trees. One day I was walking around the residential side of the campus and had a thought:What if we had an Orchard? I presented my idea to management and was given the go-ahead to get started.
I chose apple and pear trees to start with as certain varieties do well in this environment. The trees are two years old which means they will fruit in two years’ time. The plan is to create an orchard for future generations – a legacy. I want to use the orchard to its full potential: organising workshops about fruit tree pruning, maintenance and harvesting.
The allotment is behind the Village Shop at Mile End and has eight raised beds. At the moment, we're growing tomatoes, lettuces, land cress, chard, chili peppers, bell peppers and horseradish. We've also planning to sow some more rocket, chicory, and purple and green tender-stem broccoli before the winter. The crops are for students and staff, and they will also be used in various dishes served in the Curve restaurant.
The Black Poplar planting was part of Queen Mary's recognition of World Environment Day. Mature trees grow to 30m and can live for 200 years. The bark is dark brown but often appears black. It is the food plant for the caterpillars of many moths, including the hornet, wood leopard, and poplar hawk The catkins provide an early source of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects, and the seeds are eaten by birds. Black poplar wood is fine textured, soft and fire resistance. Traditional uses included cartwheels and wagon bottoms and often used for floorboards, especially in the days of paraffin lamps. Our aim is to increase the natural tree population by planting these trees.
Usually, my team and my days and week are planned. In the morning first thing I walk around the Campus to check everything. After that, I talk to my team about any unplanned work. Otherwise, everyone knows what needs to be done. In the afternoon I do my admin which could be anything from researching materials, pricing, or drawing landscaping plans.
I can create a wonderful environment and can work with some many nice people.
I would say I can play a big part in the reduction of carbon footprint. Also, creating a welcoming and colourful campus: a place everybody wants to enjoy and visit.
I love every part of the campus but if I must choose one it would be where we planted the orchard.
It is a very welcoming and inclusive University.
When I was young, I wanted to study medicine so I would probably have been a surgeon.
I love reading, doing environmental and horticultural related courses, long distance running and cycling, and I started playing on violin a couple of years ago.