Thursday, 28 June 2012
The Emirates Air Line, as it’s officially known, runs between terminals at North Greenwich (left) and the ExCel exhibition centre at the Royal Docks, both of which are hosting Olympic events.
Each of the 34 cars can hold 10 people, and accommodates wheelchairs and baby buggies. They run continuously, slowing right down at the terminals to allow passengers to board and alight, then swinging up and out over the river to reach a height of almost 300 ft. The operators, Transport for London, say up to 2,500 people an hour can be carried in each direction.
Emirates has invested £36 million in the project as part of a 10-year sponsorship deal. This stretch of Thames is currently served by road tunnels, but no bridges, so the cable car is a useful link. London mayor Boris Johnson says the service is a tourist attraction but also a valuable addition to the capital's public transport infrastructure.
More details at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modalpages/23828.aspx
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
The city is known as the Venice of the North, so the garden is partially bordered by a moat, with bridges and islands. Topiary cupolas reflect the St Petersburg skyline, and the unmistakable Russian theme is continued with a set of Russian doll sculptures. The garden is edged with rustic grasses to symbolise the weekend exodus by city inhabitants to their rural retreats or dachas.
The garden is the work of Heather Appleton of the English landscape design company, Twig. She went to St Petersburg last year, and says she was ‘wowed’ by the vibrancy and the variety of the art exhibits, which range from the 10th to the 21st centuries. She's hoping her creation will spur people to go there themselves.
Saturday, 16 June 2012
The gardens cover an area the size of 10 football fields, and contain more than 120,000 plants from 250 different species, nurtured to flower during the Olympics They will gradually move in colour from predominantly yellow (left), blue and silver in July to gold in August.
When I visited on June 14, (before a special BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time programme), most of the flowers were still to emerge, but the thought that had gone into the planting was obvious. The Lea Valley is a windtunnel, so vegetation has been kept low, with box hedging providing some shelter (left). Grasses were bending in the wind, while spikes of allium, agapanthus, black iris, lillies, red hot poker, and Californian poppy added drama.
Working with Sarah on the wildflower meadows are Professor James Hitchmough and his colleague Nigel Dunnett from the University of Sheffield, and head gardener Des Smith. Professor Hitchmough makes the point that the days when local authorities had money for intensive garden maintenance are past. So the care of the meadow gardens is squeezed into a couple of weeks from the end of February, when the vegetation is cut down and flash-burnt to get rid of weeds, then reseeded with a special prairie mix. He says they trialled this in Sheffield Botanic Gardens in 2004, and today it's still more or less weed-free.
In a more sheltered area near the stadium is the Great British Garden, the work of RHS competition-winners Rachel Read and schoolgirl Hannah Clegg. Their design features Bronze, Silver and Gold areas with matching colours of wildflowers and grasses, running-track inspired spiral paths, a living tunnel of woven willow, an orchard, fruiting hedges and a frog pond with wetland plants. There’s also a 'de Coubertin oak', from an acorn collected from the tree that Baron Pierre De Coubertin planted in 1894 to thank the citizens of Much Wenlock in Shropshire for inspiring the founding of the modern Olympic Games.
In years to come, this former industrial site will become a leafy oasis. Two and a half thousand trees, including alder, cherry, ash, hazel, willow, oak, poplar, rowan, lime, field maple, sweet gum and silver birch have already been planted and a similar number will be added next year.
One thoughtful touch: the parklands will have 250 benches and more than 3,300 seats, so there should always be a handy place to sit and enjoy the surroundings.
Planting notes on the world gardens:
Crocus; Daffodil; Primrose; Mont Blanc, Drumstick and Bulgarian Onion; Woodruff; Milky Bellflower; Corn Flower; ‘Mayflower’ Geranium; Marsh Spurge; Shasta Daisy; Jerusalem Cross; Loosestrife; Turkish Sage; Devils Bit Scabious; Globeflower; Yellow Oxeye.
Evening Primrose; Wild Quinine; Wild Petunia; Butterfly Milkweed; Prairie Daisies, Asters, grasses and Coneflower; Bush’s Poppy Mallow; Tickseed; Rattlesnake Master; Prairie Smoke; Indian Physic; Tall Blazing Star; Jacob’s Ladder; Compass Plant; Soapweed Yucca; Verbena.
Black Iris; Japanese Anemone; Korean Feather Reed Grass; Tiger, Foxtail, Red and Tall Boy Plantain Lily; Japanese Flamingo and Silverfeather Grass; Moorhexe and Transparent Moor Grass; Giant Fleeceflower; Oriental Burnet; Firetail Bistort.
The Southern Hemisphere includes:
African, Bugle and Pineapple Lily; South African Thistle; Orange New Zealand Sedge; Kangaroo Grass; Angel’s Fishing Rods; Weeping Love Grass; Cape Hyacinth; Ruby Butterfly Gladiolus; Everlasting Golden Strawflower; Red Hot Poker; Drakensburg Tritonia.
More at: http://www.london2012.com/spectators/venues/olympic-park/
Saturday, 9 June 2012
This weekend more than 200
squares and gardens, mostly private, open their gates so visitors can discover some of the capital’s beautiful hidden spaces. To me, the most remarkable is the Garden Barge Square at Tower Bridge Moorings, Downings Rd, Southwark, where gardens have been created on converted barges. London
I took these photos when I visited last year, and was amazed by the care and imagination that has gone into the creation of these gardens. There was even an apple tree, though because of the shallow depth of the soil, it could never grow very tall.
Today, this floating square is a haven for insects and birds, and shows how a garden can be created almost anywhere.
London Garden Squares weekend, June 9 + 10, 2012: http://www.opensquares.org/en/index.html