Friday, 15 May 2015

green walls and tree boxes

Along the tow-path, there are flashes of orange and purple where an Aquilegia has rooted, where a wallflower has blown in; along the bypass, a mass of Clematis Montana is romping over the screening trees and on the roundabouts, Opium Poppies are popping up, cheerfully pink and reverting fast from their fancy ruffled varieties. Along the side roads, Erigeron, and Nigella are sneaking out of the garden into the gutters and cracks in the tarmac. I can't bring myself to feel irritable about these tame escapees. Bees don't care if a flower is native. Although the roads feel different about such things, of course, and I often see them with hoes and sprays, tidying up the street. That wallflower (tucked into a tangle of plants by the tow-path) is safe. But the Erigeron (around a bollard on Divinity Road) may be less lucky.

  escaped wallflower Erigeron, self-palnted

Divinity Road has socially sanctioned space for garden escapees; tree boxes in the traffic calming, loaded with a couple of sacks of compost and planted up; my guess is that it's by the residents rather than any professional, as the boxes are crowded and the planting imaginative and optimistic.The Fennel, Wallflower and Perennial Sweetpea mix (bottom left) might have come from seeds from a back-garden; the Honeyworts (top right) look like plug plants bought from the internet. The result is a brilliant anarchic jumble of colour under every tree. Every street should do this.

BIG GREEN WALL early honeywort
superbright tree box Green wall & road, towerblocks

The green wall, a favourite of Prestige London Building sites (this really spectacular one's next to the West Way, right by Joe Strummer Subway) is not a beast that can be built by the occasional attentions of neighbourhood improvers, no matter how dedicated. Internal irrigation systems must be filled and maintained, the porous pockets and waterproof backing kept in steady state, the slow-release fertiliser topped up, and of course there is the necessity to replace plants, as they grow too large or being to falter. I love how they look - that tapestry of rich green textures softening our environment of flat planes and sharp angles - but they're a job for the professionals.

That said, I think there's a good possibility of escapees from that wall; maybe later this summer there willl be lime green Euphorbia nodding along the West Way, pink wallflowers and geraniums finding purchase in the cracks in the concrete, and on ledges crusted with rain-smeared particulates, and lavender setting off across the roofs, setting up new stopping points for London Bees.

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