I thought I had arrived with a quarter hour to spare so had plenty of time to check out how the new planting in Oxford's bête noire of urban spaces, Frideswide Square, was coming along. I hadn't, I'd mistaken the training venue, but that's another story.
This story is about defensive planting:
These planters don't just hold in the soil. They also stop people driving all over that tempting broad, flat expanse. The knee-high jaggedy edged chunks of solid granite-a-like, punctuated by anti-skater knobbles, kind of work as seats but really book as crash barriers. Though not quite the anti-terror attack plant pots and benches that subtly barrier up public spaces near anxious buildings, its hails from the same stable. The world that doesn't have to compromise on style because it's security minded, a sort of semi-hostile architecture, just one heavy, dramatic piece of public art away from absolute security on all approach routes (in the plans for next year I hope).
The planting has a ways to go. The little box hedges look like they're still wondering whether or not to survive the summer, and the various smart grasses are just little tuftlets in a sea of bark chips. But at this time of day, when the sun slants through the bus-shelters and lights up the sprouting leaves on the spring trees it's beautiful, in a blank, tough and uncompromising way.
Next task: get to the right training venue...