Friday, 10 April 2015

gardens in cracks and gardens behind walls

Spring, and seedlings are pushing up from every crack and crevice. Those seedlings are probably Plane Trees, from the row of mature trees by the office which I sincerely hope are not about to be cut down (random bits keep on being lopped off, and one has gone, altogether). Doomed to die in a drain.

There are glorious gardens all over the centre of Oxford, of course. That picture on the right shows one of the newest, a fabulous stepped bank of modernist terraces with exuberant, architectural planting. Presumably. I'm extrapolating from the architect's drawings that were on the barriers back when it was my favourite building site, with elegant dancing cranes and a host of iron strengthening rods thrusting out of the ground, each one topped with a yellow safety cap, bright as a daffodil. Then this teal facade sprung up and the doors were firmly veiled, first in billowing plastic, then in temporary steel gates and finally in opaque wooden slats and anti-climb spikes.

The garden I assume exists might never have been built; might have been left as grass or turned to bike parking (it is student halls, of course); might have lost all its new planting in the cold spring and dry summer. The only thing you can see of it is this blank blue face; and the slightly dangerous looking glass skybridge round the corner.

There are many gardens locked away behind fences, walls, railings and gates in Oxford. I'm used to slipping my camera between the bars, or skulking round the gardens on open days or in the intervals in talks and plays. This is somehow worse; they're just rooms in there, and this is just security. But somehow this has left not even a crack by which you might see the hanging gardens within, and no ghost of a reason why you could (or would) ever step inside.

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