Despite its all-conquering presence, HS2 isn’t the only player in town when it comes to transforming the neighbourhood. Down a quiet side street, purposefully removed from the frenzied transport routes, an organisation called Cityscapes have been carving out a new community garden in a previously neglected corner.
Their team is behind a veritable tongue-twister of urban horticultural projects, from plant peep shows to pop-up gardens and permanent pocket parks. Their latest scheme forms another element of the forthcoming Euston Green Link, the low-emission art walk leading from the railway terminus over into Regent’s Park rapidly taking shape, one shrub/art installation at a time.
This particular component of the route has totally reimagined an underused plot directly in front of Westminster Kingsway College on Longford Street. The area is now filled with all manner of plants, creating a new sanctuary of greenery for students, teachers and the general public too.
“The main challenge was responding to the conditions of either side of the pocket park,” says Cityscapes’ Darryl Moore.
“We needed to treat them as separate ecologies relating to the amount of light and heat they each get. One side is exposed and sunny, plus the sun also bounces back off the windows of the college increasing the temperature further, so we’ve planted it with a matrix of sun-loving, drought-tolerant plants that respond well to these conditions. Meanwhile the area on the west side has shade from some existing small trees, so the planting there is more like a woodland ecology.”
Darryl and his team – which includes garden design students from WKC and other nearby colleges gaining valuable hands-on experience – have also created new pathways and seating areas alongside the foliage, earning the park an enthusiastic reception, even before completion.
“We had so many encouraging comments when we were planting,” he says. “People were very happy to see so many plants being put into an otherwise dull, grey concrete area. It’s great that there’s an increasing recognition of the benefits of using plants to address urban problems such as air pollution, and that organisations such as Euston Town are actively using green infrastructure to improve the daily lives of those who live and work locally.”
Euston Town and Cityscapes are about to begin work on a couple of other projects along both Drummond and North Gower streets, so keep an eye out for more emerging green shoots this spring.
Main image: Cityscapes