The Grey City Gets Greener



Despite the fact that our former mayor lost interest in tackling London’s frequently horrible arterial pollution, the capital remains the greenest city in what is already an astoundingly verdant country. It’s something you tend to forget until you come home from – well, almost anywhere else.

It’s one of the reasons why I’ve chosen to set the next Bryant & May novel, ‘Wild Chamber’, in London’s green spaces, so many of which we take for granted. And now the city is apparently set to get greener.

Farmopolis is opening on the Jetty at Greenwich Peninsula. This floating oasis has been given all the leftover flowers from the Chelsea Flower Show. ‘The Great Plant Rescue’ will give new life to abandoned greenery. It comes as one of several regeneration projects that will add more pocket-parks and green spaces throughout the capital.


Planners are encouraging developers to design in green spaces — orchards, meadows and allotments — with built-in flood defences as an environmental priority. Also on the cards; out go flat playing fields, in come cleverly CAD-designed ‘rolling’ meadows with hillocks. The trick here is in keeping the topsoil on the peaks of each hump from drying out, and that’s done by varying the density of the earth.

Already we have three new such hillock spaces around my neighbourhood, and they’re sprouting up all over the place. Hopefully Mr Boris Johnson’s days of approving green sites that aren’t – ie. the joke ‘Skygarden’ in the Walkie Talkie that has to be booked in advance from a very limited ticket supply – are going out of fashion.


Lost waterways, disused railway sidings and derelict sites are being opened up to provide more oxygenation and space for relaxation. Reservoirs like the one in Hackney have been designated ‘Sites of Metropolitan Importance’ after being off-limits for two centuries.

We’re very protective of our open spaces. It would be nice to think they as buildings rise, fresh greenery can appear at ground level, and that you don’t have to book a space for it through a website.

6 comments on “The Grey City Gets Greener”

  1. Cid says:


  2. Helen Martin says:

    Did you notice the foxgloves in the top picture? Can you name three other blooms in that picture? (Extra points for botanical nomenclature)

  3. admin says:

    Jeez Helen I can’t even name one!

  4. Helen Martin says:

    You do recognise the foxgloves, though, right? And the crocuses (croci is too, too, for words) in the middle picture?
    I could only enter that contest (if it really were one) with the help of my botanical Jennifer, although the red things look like Monbretia, which I think has been renamed something else, and the purple bit could be lavender.

  5. Wayne Mook says:

    Not very good at plants either, it looks some cow parsley and lavender.

    Sorry, my wife or little sister would know. I’m not much of a gardener or plant spotter.


  6. Lauren says:

    Look’s like Queen Anne’s lace in the top one, the crocuses already named, a hosta maybe in the lower left of the third photo. Can’t really tell what the red in the top photo is; it looks like beardtongue but that doesn’t make sense for the climate.

Comments are closed.

Posted In