Archive for the ‘London’ Category
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
We’re delighted to say that we have teamed up with the beautiful furniture maker and design company Squint, and are thrilled to be launching our first urban garden pop-up shop in the basement courtyard at Squint’s South Kensington furniture emporium from 18th May – 9th June. Squint was the creation of Lisa Whatmough, who combined her passion for textiles with a very British design sensibility to create a world of richly decorative home wares.
This first exciting collaboration is part of the Chelsea Fringe calendar of events, the cooler sister of the Chelsea Flower Show. Also as part of the Brompton Design District, The Balcony Gardener will be displaying an installation at the entrance to the Squint showroom and filling the basement courtyard with an assortment of our container gardens and pieces from the website.
We would love to see you there so do pop in if you’re in the area!
Squint and The Balcony Gardener Pop-Up Urban Garden Shop
18th May – 9th June
Squint, North Terrace, London SW3 2BA
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
We were delighted when David Lewi invited us to his North London home to view the remarkable large Ordnance Survey map which adorns the walls of his office. Not only is it a great geographical reference but it’s also a wonderful addition to home interiors and looks great on the walls. Ordnance Survey maps have long been the geographical aid for hikers, drivers, explorers and girl guides and boy scouts. The incredibly detailed maps cover all the streets and geographical locations of Great Britain, and in this time of confusing sat-navs you can be sure that if you have an ordnance survey map to hand you’ll be able to find your way.
David had always wanted to put together a large scale map of London and the South East – all areas close to his own life. He had heard about the large Ordnance Survey maps – and how they create made to order maps based on your own grid references and specifications – which you can then hang as your own custom made wallpaper. So if you live in the Scottish Highlands – you can in theory have a wallpaper printed detailing the specific map of your home area. David had wanted to create his own map, after requesting his specific area with Ordnance Survey – the map took a few days to arrive and then a decorator mounted it for him in his office; it was made to fit and covered the wall perfectly. The map is the standard scale and covers every road in his chosen area meaning he can trace his own routes to his own favourite places – including the South Downs and across the coast.
The history of the Ordnance Survey mapping is interesting; it was back in 1791, during the height of the French Revolution, that the British Government feared invasion and soon came to realise that the South Coast of England needed to be comprehensively and accurately mapped. The Government instructed the Board of Ordnance – the defence ministry of the day to carry out the necessary survey work and thus, the Ordnance Survey was born. A new different revolution faces the Ordnance Survey today – the ongoing digital revolution with web mapping services transforming businesses and web mapping serves. No longer part of the British government, the Ordnance Survey now employs 1200 people including 300 surveyors – and in this digital age they still sell 2.5 million maps each year. But digital mapping now accounts for 90% of their current business.
Look for your own Ordnance Survey map here.
With thanks to David Lewi and Ordnance Survey.
Thursday, March 21st, 2013
Image: Eleanor Salter Thorn
Get your glad-rags on next week for a floral evening of swinging 50’s at the RHS London Spring Fair Late on Tuesday 26th March until 9pm.Take a trip down memory lane and stroll through the evening streets of London, past blossom trees and fairy lights, inside this amazing venue – the beautiful RHS Horticultural Halls.
Clothed in 50’s attire, the best nurserymen from around the country will be displaying barrows brimming with spring flowers. Enjoy seasonal cocktails from the acclaimed Midnight Apothecary and delicious floral blends from the Gin Garden. .A range of cider, ale and elegant, organic wines straight from the vineyards and orchards of RHS Garden Wisley will also be on offer, as well as delicious 50’s-style food, from coronation chicken and hot dogs to pick’n’mix and candyfloss.
There will be lively music from The Reel Society, so don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes, as there will also be free swing dancing lessons from the London Swing Cats dance group.
Get transported back in time and play nostalgic fairground games like Hoop-la, and even have your photo taken in a fabulously floral vintage motor. Whether you’re looking for an unusual post-work social or a date-night to knock the socks off your spouse, don’t miss this night out with a difference!
RHS Great London Plant Fair
Venue: RHS Horticultural Halls (Lawrence & Lindley Hall),
Greycoat Street, Westminster,
London SW1P 2PE
Date/Time: Tuesday 26 March 10am – 9pm
Wednesday 27 March 10am – 5pm
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Over the past few months we have featured guerrilla gardening plenty of times on the blog, and the different ways it is realised in growing projects across cities. We are huge advocates of the movement and the desire to make cities more liveable with more greenery and re-claimed waste ground. We were absolutely delighted when the pioneering founder of the movement, the original guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds joined us for an interview. Richard started his online blog in 2004 as way of recording his illicit cultivation across London, it has now grown into a blossoming community of guerrilla gardeners who share their tales of waste grounds, public space and all things green. It’s a brilliant working forum, and brings to attention many urban concerns about the lack of green space and council often un-willingness to take charge.
What was it that inspired you to start?
Imagining the opportunity in the very visibly neglected landscape that confronted me every time I entered my tower block. To some this blight would have been invisible or perhaps subliminal, to me it was an afront, a depressing insult of neglect from Southwark Council and from other residents. This wasn’t something to complain about but an exciting opportunity, a canvas on which I could once again become a gardener, something I’d missed since living in London and never having had much more than windowsills.
Where have you travelled, and what foreign gardening projects have inspired you?
I’ve travelled a great deal spreading the guerrilla gardening message and meeting other guerrilla gardeners. This has been a wonderful and unexpected side effect of blogging and writing about my activities and the loose global movement. My full travels are listed here. In terms of what’s inspired me: well of course the mature community gardens in New York, where the term guerilla gardening was coined in the early 1970s. The fact they’ve survived, grown, been endorsed and remain in a context that’s under very different pressures to what was there when they emerged – i.e. land values and development pressure vs urban flight and dereliction. Also the diversity and fun of tree pit planting in Berlin, where some even incorporate seating and murals and sculptures, all very informal stuff. I’ve recently returned from Milan where I met a 1 year old group of enthusiastic guerrilla gardeners from Bologna who attended my lecture. They’re called Terra di Nettuno and really get it.
New York City Guerrilla Gardens, 1970′s and today.
What’s been your highlight so far?
Meeting my wife guerrilla gardening. We were weeding and planting tulips 6 years ago this autumn and got married in June.
Have you encountered any resistance to guerilla gardening projects?
Yes. Some of it has been based on misunderstanding our motives or actions. For example the gardening establishment, the likes of Monty Don, Bunny Guiness, they are publicly negative, dismissive and personally aggressive towards my actions, but their reasoning is founded on ignorance or intentional misinformation. This was quite disappointing at first, but I’m resigned to the fact that they live in a gilded ivory tower, where as I live in a concrete one. Some locally authorities have got excited about how they might channel the enthusiasm, Lambeth get it now. My local authority in Southwark have been negative and unconstructive, in fact they even destroyed the one area of street gardening where I’d done it with permission, where it wasn’t a guerrilla garden. But I’m trying to turn this into an opportunity to change their mindset, for it to be a wake up call. I think I’m getting somewhere. Tomorrow morning the leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John, will be paying me a visit. It’s taken 8 years of guerrilla gardening and two years of requesting this meeting to get to this point. I want them to help facilitate roadside planting as their neighbours in Lambeth Council now do.
What are your tips for novice guerilla gardeners?
Be prepared to do it solo. Start small and very local to where you live. If you don’t succeed try again. Read the landscape, work out what the pressures on your patch might be. Now is a good time to do some, plant some bulbs, and use the success to encourage you to do more and get help.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’ve just been to New Covent Garden market to stock up on more daffodils, two big boxes of Narcissus Barrett Browning. I’m ‘upgrading’ 10 of the tree pits in London Road which I first planted last summer. The upgrade involves building a scaffold plank high raised bed around the trees, protecting the tree trunks and filling with soil. It’s quite a lot of work but it makes the tree pits easier to tend and much less vulnerable to trampling. It also looks pretty smart. Most of the wood is reclaimed off the street abandoned by construction work. Thankfully there’s lots of construction work around Elephant and Castle.
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Image: Garden Museum
Last week the Balcony Gardener team took a morning out of the office to glean a bit of inspiration from two very different green spots in London. Firstly, we crossed over Westminster Bridge in the direction of Lambeth for a morning at the Garden Museum. Based in the deconsecrated parish church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, the Garden Museum sits adjacent to Lambeth Palace and overlooks the River Thames. It was the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of gardening.
The museum houses permanent exhibitions, including old gardening tools, prints and photographs of different gardeners and their gardens and a large collection of catalogues and brochures. Besides this, there were also two other features of the Garden Museum we wanted to experience first-hand, namely Sorrel Ferguson’s award-winning cafe and the shortlisted designs for London’s High Line project.
The cafe was named alongside restaurants at New York’s Guggenheim and the Hermitage in St. Petersberg as one of the top museum eateries in the world. In the Summer you can enjoy lunch outside in the Knot Garden – a 17th century style garden created in the early 1980’s by the Museum’s President, The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury. Inspiration from the 17th century is due to the tombs of the great plant gardeners and collectors, John Tradescant the Elder (c.1570-1638) and Younger (1608-1662), both of whom reside in the garden. (It is also the burial place of Anne Boleyn’s Mother.) The small garden is cared for by an enthusiastic small horticultural team of staff and volunteers. Planted in the garden are beds of herbs and vegetables used in Sorrel’s recipes. On the chilly day we went, we were treated to slabs of freshly – still warm – homemade bread and bowls of soup seasoned with herbs from the garden. Delicious!
Fletcher Priest’s winning design
We’ve featured New York’s High Line on previous blogs and wanted to see the final shortlist of designs for London’s own version. We visited a few days before the High Line Symposium, an event co-ordinated by the Mayor and lead by visitors from New York. The Symposium discussed the successes in New York and how – if ever – a London version could be built. The final competition was won by Fletcher Priest Architects with their “Pop Down” designs – an undergound garden using the old Mail Rail tunnels that run just North of Oxford Street and have been out of action for over a decade. The underground garden would be lit via fibre optic ducts up to the surface, where scultpural glass mushrooms would harvest light allowing real fungi to grow down below. Whilst no financial or actual planning is in place, it’s interesting to see how the High Line – or indeed Low Line maybe realised in London.
After our morning in Lambeth, we boarded the tube and DLR in the direction of the Thames Barrier Park, ‘the first riverside park to be built in London for over 50 years.’ In 1995, the London Docklands Development Corporation launched an international competition to create a new riverside park. The site had been derelict and contaminated for many years, meaning the design involved a two-stage implementation process. The first stage of meant the area needed to be de-contaminated and ready for planting, whilst the second phase consisted of building the new structures, installing the water feature, constructing the hard surfacing and planting the new vegetation. The design competition was eventually won by landscape architect Allain Provost (Groupe Signes) of Paris and architects Patel Taylor of London. The Anglo-French design team’s winning competition proposal was to develop a strategy based on the creation of ‘a clear urban and park framework which envisages contrasting spaces for different uses in the park’.
We had never visited the park before, and it was more than worth our trip out East. It has a lush sunken garden of waggly hedges and and offers perhaps the best views from land of the fabulously sculptural Thames Barrier. The park features a children’s play area, a fountain plaza where kids can splash about and a five-aside football/basketball court. According to the original designs and planting, the green trench running through the park was intended as a reminder of the site’s dockland heritage. It provides a sheltered microclimate for a ‘rainbow garden’ – strips of coloured plants. A Pavilion of Remembrance near the River commemorates local people who died in the Second World War. The park and its design have won many prizes over the years, from both the British and American Institutes of Architecture. Up close the park really is a feat of green engineering and ingenuity – the Thames Barrier is a brilliant backdrop.
On our way home we took a detour to the Cable Cars that fly you across the Thames from Excel to the Dome – a brilliant pit-stop and well worth a try!