With its high-profile founder, Joanna Lumley, the Garden Bridge project has generated much publicity. Whether you're in favour or not, it's certainly an exciting new horticultural endeavour in the heart of our capital, building on the success of the Olympic Park.
So I was intrigued by an invitation to to present recommendations on behalf of the RHS's Plants for Bugs project at a recent briefing for local groups.
After discovering the briefing was to be a 'breakfast' one, I was a little less enthusiastic (meaning a 4.30am start for me). But in the end it was worthwhile. Representatives spanning the horticultural sector attended; from national bodies like Historic England and Defra to London parties such as Bee Collective and The Royal Parks and wildlife conservation organisations like the Woodland Trust and Natural England.
To open, top RHS Chelsea Flower Show designer Dan Pearson gave an overview of the planting design and ethos. Planting opportunities are maximised in the bridge design by having a continuous substrate under the walkways and deep - up to 2m (6ft) in places - planting pockets over the two elegant supporting columns, driven down into the Thames river bed. Trees offer glades over the columns, while planting in the more open areas is inspired by the history of horticulture runs from the east to west embankments.
Dan's scheme uses a mix of native and non-native plants, typical of a garden setting. These are selected to tolerate exposed conditions. This, and the seasonal succession of flowering ensures good provision for pollinators.
Plants for Bugs
My presentation covered the recent results from the Plants for Bugs pollinator paper, as well as Britain's plant legacy from plant hunters such as Sir Joseph Banks. It was a perfect opportunity to communicate the research to a wider audience. The final talk came from Sally Armour from engineering contractor Arup - a fascinating insight into the challenges posed by such as ambitious project.
For anyone wanting to see a model of how London's Garden Bridge will look, come along to the RHS London Shades of Autumn Show on 23-24 October.