Sky Garden to the Olympic Park in London
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
For over a year I was dreading going up to the Sky Garden on the Walkie Talkie building. In July as we walked around London that building haunted me! Access is free, but you have to make a booking. Security is tight; they wanted ID so we waved our driver's licenses. Up in the lift to the 35th floor.
Deep breath. Actually, because of the weird shape of the building, you don't see down, which would have done for me. A feeling of being on a ship (no wonder they call it the bridge) as you look out and across. Sandblasted on the windows are the sights you see. Our flat at St Katharine Docks and Tower Bridge. The Garden left a more money than sense impression - lots of cycads. More interested in the roof gardens we could see from that vantage. Chelsea Physic Garden for me!
Second on the Ungardener's list was Dennis Severs house. This reminded me of the Tenement House in Glasgow. Both take us back to living with gaslight, and remind me of my grandmother and her bunches of freesias. No pictures allowed, so we could immerse ourselves in a very strange experience. Stranger still to think of the artist choosing to live in this house, back in a very different time. Candles. An open fire in the kitchen.
As we walked along the Thames we wandered into the Hay's Galleria and found a delightful sculpture / fountain. A homage to the tea clippers. When we looked down Hay's Wharf was dwarfed by the modern buildings, but inside the human scale, imagining a tea clipper sailing in to an enclosed dock to offload in 1850 - HUGE!
On Sunday we were at St Paul's Cathedral, seated between two crosses. At first disconcerted by their confused texture, then I read - sculptures by Gerry Judah to remember those who died in WWI - again a reminder of my grandfather. The white cross (in his case a tombstone) that stands on war graves. The confused texture reveals itself as bombed cities, thinking of the White Helmets at Aleppo in Syria.
We went on a Blitz Walk. St Paul's was hit by three bombs. One knocked out the side door, and left and right doors are now deliberately NOT aligned as a reminder. A warden saw green silk trapped in a tree - a sea mine - and he waited 45 minutes with it. An explosive bomb was removed by two volunteers, who drove, to Hackney Marsh, where it was detonated. The rector's cat, who took her kitten from the cosy study down to the crypt each evening. As he returned from a meeting, he found it was HIS church this time ... and cat and kitten were found safe in the crypt! The wooden towers in the garden replicate the original structure of Greyfriars, and contain bird boxes.
Bow Bells whose sound makes you a true Cockney. The churches with their quiet displays just inside the door of devastation from the bombing.
St Lawrence Jewry (a Jewish neighbourhood from William the Conqueror) has two windows with guardian angels. This one holding the church with the roof blazing away, and the partner window showing the church rebuilt.
My turn, we went to the Olympic Park. It focuses the gardener's mind to see how much can be done since 2012!
We saw families enjoying the park as garden space. Kid's birthday parties. Friends having a picnic. Athletes running flights of stairs, while others were soaking up the sun. Between the shiny new flats were wonderful "wild" spaces to walk. Des res!!
Then to Bristol with Banksy and Brunel
Then to Bristol with Banksy and Brunel
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