Garden Bridge designers meet green-fingered neighbours

The Garden Bridge Trust's landscape designer Dan Pearson and RHS vice president Jim Gardiner visited the South Bank Roof Garden on 16 September to see for themselves the flourishing garden situated on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

L-R: Jim Gardiner, Dan Pearson and Paul Pulford. Image: Garden Bridge Trust
L-R: Jim Gardiner, Dan Pearson and Paul Pulford. Image: Garden Bridge Trust

The roof garden is less than half a mile from the bridge's planned south landing point and will be one of the ecological sites which benefits from the bridge connection. It focuses mainly on British wildflowers, vegetables and fruit and provides a habitat for a range of wildlife especially bees, butterflies , insects and birds. The roof garden is home to a family of wrens as well as blue tits and blackbirds.

Like the planned Garden Bridge, the QEH roof gardens are in a challenging environment as they are exposed to the elements. 

The gardens are run by the Grounded Ecotherapy project. This is a unique scheme run by Providence Row Housing Association which provides horticultural services and training for people who have experienced mental health or substance misuse issues and homelessness.

Head gardener Paul Pulford started Grounded Ecotherapy when living in a Providence Row hostel. He had been living on the streets for many years and was a heroin user. He says that rediscovering gardening saved his life.

Dan Pearson is developing the planting plan for the Garden Bridge. He hopes the bridge, like the QEH roof gardens, will be a "magical place in the centre of London, a place that people can visit any day of the year and find something new and interesting to see."

His planting will provide year-round colour and interest with spring blossom and flowering bulbs, high summer flowers, autumn colour and winter interest from every greens, scented shrubs, and bulbs. He will shortly be selecting the first plants for the Bridge with landscaping contractor Willerby.

Pearson commented: "As someone who works nearby, I am delighted to have seen this incredible place. It has wonderful energy and a charismatic leader who has achieved great things here. It shows what can be done when you work with passion. It is a truly inspirational garden in a very special place. I hope that we can work together going forward."

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