Autumn is a time for reflection – or at least I find it so. With Daylight Saving behind us, and the start of longer, darker days, we’re beginning to hunker down, and perhaps to think back wistfully to summer holidays now long gone. We may start to spend more time looking out on the world than we spend in it. Nature is putting on its final decadent display of colour before shut-down. High winds, and even the odd ex-hurricane, may catch and snap off some still leaf-heavy branches and convince us that it’s safer and more clement indoors.
Recently, the destructive winds of ex-Hurricane Gonzalo and all the swaying trees reminded me of a talk about the proposed Garden Bridge in London [www.gardenbridgetrust.org] that my partner and I attended back in balmy August. Speakers included a designer from the Heatherwick Studio (famous for the London 2012 Olympic cauldron), the chief construction engineer and a representative from the Garden Bridge Trust, which is raising the necessary funds to make the project happen.
As with all Heatherwick designs, the bridge is ‘bio-inspired’, an undulating, sinuous span rather in the manner of Gaudi, a pedestrian crossing point planted as a garden with trees, shrubs and flowers in 1000 cubic metres of soil – the bridge’s two concrete piers will provide the greatest depths of soil and sites for the tallest trees. The Garden Bridge plan is so daring and awe-inspiring, so Utopian, it completely takes one’s breath away: to integrate nature with the city, and to create ‘the slowest (ie most pleasant for dawdling) way to cross the river’. The planting will work with the London skylines, trees framing much-loved landmarks, with balconies providing opportunities for people to linger and look out. Local volunteers will help to maintain it, local schools visit it, commuters benefit from it, and tourists wonder at it. It will grow and change season by season, year by year, and be there for generations to come. As Gonzalo raged, I wondered again how the full-grown trees on the bridge would cope. Then I remembered the precision and wholeheartedness of the planners, developers and construction professionals who spoke back in August, and I felt reassured. There’s no doubt in my mind that Heatherwick and co. have considered all the possible variables, including hurricanes.
We built part of our own small but glorious future on the Green at the end of October, when Love Our Green Sunday (LOGS) focused on spring bulb planting.
The weather was mild, the turn-out was superb, and Janet and Mark, our horticulture expert, led the volunteers in the planting of 1200 bulbs. Doubters suggested that it couldn’t be done in two hours, but it was! So, come the Spring, we’ll see a swathe of red tulips at the top of the Green, and throughout the other beds there’ll be new clusters of crocus and aliums. Keeping the Green may be on a smaller scale than building and maintaining the Garden Bridge, but it gives residents and passersby alike community and hope of a beautiful future to comfort them through the dark days of winter.
- Catherine Allison
Scene on the