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Bringing the Forest into London

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

I am seeing more beautiful projects flourishing across the city and wanted to share some snapshots of some inspiring environmental initiatives which are taking place. Air pollution seems to be a problem in the city and I send out many blessings for more measurements to help improve the air quality. To check the conditions of air quality and pollution in your borough of London, please visit the website of London Air who provide up-to-date mappings of pollution levels: The measurements provided are based on the air quality index - at the time of the creation of the index it was considered that these levels wouldn't have any averse health impacts, however this is currently being debated. It is now being questioned whether there is any 'safe level' for such pollutants. In 2016 the latest report of the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory was published which outlined that two million people are living in areas of London with toxic air, yet thankfully the report revealed that nitrogen dioxide levels are now falling.

One great program is run by Energy Garden who are tackling the threat of air pollution and the harmful chemicals released from the burning of diesel gas on the roads by creating more green spaces across the city. If you see a public space at a London train station that you feel could become a garden please contact them online:

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden with signs saying 'Bees Love Cosmos' and 'Keep Cities Wild.' This is a public garden with free access, seven days a week, in the borough of Hackney which is considered the third most densely populated borough in the city - it operates with a team of volunteers and includes a cafe - all proceeds from the cafe go towards the maintenance of the space which includes many species of plant for butterflies, bees and wildlife.

Vegetables grown by the Holy Trinity Primary School at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.

Plants overhanging on the building on Ashwin Street, Dalston. Just opposite this building is the Dalston Roof Park garden which was initiated by Bootstrap Charity - the place originally started as allotments run by local gardeners and now the space is also used for events and music. Bootstrap Charity organise the creation of work-spaces in Dalston for sustainable businesses, charities and social enterprises and provide skills and tools for people wishing to start-up their own business:

Dalston Roof Park - image from Growing People:

Growing People are an environmental and social enterprise in Hackney who provide sustainable gardening workshops for schools, community projects and housing estates.

London Fields common in the borough of Hackney dates back to the thirteenth century and is full of giant plane trees which were planted across London on a massive scale in the Industrial Revolution when the city was covered in soot since these amazing trees are resistant to smoke and pollution. Their bark flakes off, releasing pollutants - the species was originally brought over from Spain. I can't find an age for these trees but some planes were planted in the 1700s in London.

A wildflower meadow on London Fields common - this was recently planted out and has just come into full flower this June with lots of beautiful poppies. Leaving areas wild for wildflowers to grow is a great way to attract insects and pollinating species such as honey bees.

Insect boxes hanging on the walls of buildings in the Poppy Estate, a housing estate near Clapton Park in East London. The estate is maintained by the Grass Roof Company which introduce "wild landscapes into schools, public space and onto roofs."

A sign on the 'Poppy Estate' at Clapton Park - "We reduce herbicide on your estate by using wild flowers along the railings. Poppies and pollinators. Can only be the 'poppy estate.'" Poppies can be seen in the background.

The Garden of Earthly Delights community garden can be found at 231 Graham Road in Hackney - a disused urban space, it has been converted into a community garden where volunteers from the environmental group Extinction Rebellion are currently helping the place to thrive and have organised social events in the space. This group are actively seeking out disused spaces across the capital to convert into gardens or wild spaces:

The Garden of Earthly Delights, Graham Road, Hackney.

A Community Garden Living Wall in Hackney - growing plants and herbs on an unused shop-front.

Leaving the grass to grow wild near Hackney Marshes, East London. A nearby nature reserve reveals beautiful bird hives, wetlands and untouched forest - a quiet sanctuary in this area.

A dome made with branches at a nature reserve in the built-up area of the borough of Hackney in East London. This was the place where I felt inspired to create a nature connection workshop in June 2019.

This vertical park on the walls of Regal House near the underground tube station for Covent Garden was designed and created by Biotecture - it is made out of 8,000 plants of 21 different species and the irrigation watering system uses collected rainwater. The plants were chosen to improve air quality yet also for biodiversity and included plants for native birds and flower with nectar.

Images from St Dunstan-in-the-East in the City of London. This church was destroyed in the second world war and the site was turned into a public garden in 1967 with the creation of a fountain, lawn and the planting of trees - a lovely way of bringing the forest into this busy area of London.

If you see a unused green space which you think could be converted into a wild haven please contact a suitable local group or community. For those interested in planting trees - you might be interested in guerilla planting - make sure that the trees are not evasive and suitable for the environment:

If you have your own garden and are looking for more tips and ways to deepen your connection with nature and create a space where pollinating insects and wildlife can thrive, please visit my post 'Tips for Connecting':

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