A Scene of Green

A Scene of Green

The urban landscape is changing. For decades we’ve sacrificed precious green space to expand our sprawling metropolis.

But now, the turf is turning and pockets of clever greenery are transforming our cities. New York’s High Line was a huge success and London looks set to follow suit with the newly unveiled Garden Bridge initiative (championed by actress Joanna Lumley).  A stunning concept, it aims to create a public garden and pedestrian crossing that will span the Thames and link the South Bank to Temple and the Strand with a waterway woodland complete with mature trees and meandering paths. This is just one example of new urban landscaping.

Pioneer of the vertical garden, Patrick Blanc is a botanical architect who takes foliage to new heights. His ingenious L’Oasis D’Aboukir in Paris transformed the façade of an historical building and incorporates 7,600 plants from 237 different species. It’s a phenomenon that’s growing globally and blurring the lines between manmade and nature – something architect John Halliday is keen to do with his plans for Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens, which propose a new structure within the heart of the city to integrate the Victorian sunken gardens. And in East London the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden bills itself as ‘a place for people and plants alike’.

Lying on the old Eastern Curve railway line that once connected Dalston Junction with the North London line,  it’s been regenerated with wildlife-friendly shrubs and trees and raised beds, which are used by local residents as mini-allotments to grow fresh herbs, tomatoes and peppers. It has proved a magnet for the community, as well as impacting on other  issues such as food sustainability and quality of life. In a similar vein, the King’s Cross Skip Garden has revamped an unloved bus car park within the new Central Saint Martins redevelopment site. Once an industrial hub, it’s now a mobile organic vegetable garden grown in skips that rotate about the site.  Food is used to power the Skip Garden Café and teach school kids the power of home-grown veggies, proving that green-scaping is both beautiful and beneficial. Our future looks bright but more importantly, it looks green.

Turf's Up

The Grand Union in Brixton may look like a humble South London boozer, but it boasts a pub garden to die for. Lose yourself amongst the trellis loaded foliage and hanging Chinese lanterns — a little oasis of greenery in an urban hotspot.123 Acre Lane, London SW2 5UA

The MidnightApothecary’s cocktail gardener uses ingredients from the Thames Tunnel garden to create delicious infusions at this pop-up bar.Brunel Museum, London SE16 4LF

The Eden Project paved the way in terms of building botanically. Grab a smoothie in the Rainforset Biome as you make your way around the trees. Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall PL24 2SG

Grow Your Own Way

Guerrilla Gardening The green-fingered protest against an ever-advancing concrete jungle has gathered pace all over Europe with volunteers beautifying central reservations, roadsides  and neglected park spaces alike. Watch out for them in the dead of night. Get involved at guerrillagardening.org

  • Words: Catriona Taylor

  • Banner Image: ARUP