Sep 152012

Oxo Tower, London

Giant planters are mysteriously popping up all over the Waterloo area. There have been sightings outside a church opposite the station, at the top of a dreary walkway to the Imax (below), and in the last few days, round the back of the OXO Tower (above).

There’s always more than one – they’re usually in groups of about five. And what I like about them is that each one has a different colour theme – purple (petunias and salvias), red (geraniums, begonias and coleus), pink (petunias and geraniums again) and so on. They pack quite a punch.

The planters below also handily prevent drivers turning into the Imax entrance. I’ve nearly been run over several times by reversing cars and lorries, and now I can walk home without the fear of being squashed.

Jul 052012

South Bank

I love it when I find an area that you wouldn’t expect to have been planted up, but is. This walkway at the South Bank Centre could be forgiven for just being a link to one part of a concrete building to another, but care has been taken to line it with lots of tough little plants such as thrift.

The walkway leads from the Hayward Gallery to the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof garden, which is looking better than ever this year – the wildflower meadows are currently at their peak and the raised beds are already full to bursting with herbs, salad and beans. If the weather ever improves, it’s the best place to hang out in London.

Dec 062011

The South Bank

I’m walking up and down the South Bank a lot these days and it never fails to impress. Aside from the culture, restaurants and views it’s got loads of thoughtfully planned seating, clever lighting, interesting paving, twinkling lights in the trees and ever changing things to look at.

These silver birches have just appeared outside the National Theatre, complete with tweeting bird sounds emanating from their branches. It’s an other-worldly addition that’s almost eerie at night.

The only thing ruining the South Bank at the moment is a mariachi-style band that dominates Hungerford Bridge, drowning out every other busker and making conversation/iPod listening nigh-on impossible for at least a 200m radius. They used to play ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ ad infinitum but now they’ve switched to Christmas carols. The other day I crossed Waterloo Bridge to avoid them, only to find that some of their pals were dominating that one too. Please, please will someone make it stop?!?!!!!………….

Sep 062011

South Bank

When I stepped into Judith’s living room, I had the weirdest feeling: it was exactly as I’d imagined it moments before. It reminded me of my old flat, especially as it has patio doors that look onto a balcony.

My flat was on the Willesden High Road, possibly the only road in London that has got more grotty and not the least bit gentrified in the last ten years. Meanwhile Judith lives in the lovely Oxo Tower on the South Bank. But her balcony and my old one are pretty similar – south facing, rather windswept, in a very urban setting and packed to the gunnells with plants. Judith has done what I never quite managed with mine – she’s added height using steps and little tables. She’s also got some jaunty bunting.

My balcony got me interested in gardening and it also kept me sane. Spending time on it was noisy but therapeutic and I loved gazing at a sea of green from my sofa. It sure beat the view directly below, although my young nephew loved it – he once asked to come and visit me so that he could ‘watch the police cars’.

Jul 032011

South Bank

At the moment the South Bank is home to¬† a ‘Summer of Fun’ festival – isn’t that a nice proposition? There’s a British seaside theme with stripey beach huts, a giant seagull, funfair and so on.

And… there’s a garden. A Great Day Out-On-Sea is a horticultural tour of the seafront at Southend-on-Sea, from its formal Victorian gardens to the cockling industry at Leigh-on-Sea. The part you can see here is the Victorian park planting bit, with lots of colourful and sub-tropical plants. It somehow looks completely at home in the concrete jungle.