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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wembley, Wembley Quite Contrary. How does your garden grow?

Pinner, Pinner, no longer a winner...

No I haven't gone entirely mad, but summer's here and that means it's time for that special date in London Underground's calendar. It's not the announcement of this year's "Staying cool on the Tube campaign" or Sheriff Ken's prize for inventing air conditioning on the Tube. But the London Underground Annual Station Gardens competition is underway. Hoorah, hoorah, hoorah.

I know that many of you who travel on the Tube will think that a "station garden" is a platform that's been cleared of all the tin cans, crisp packets and pigeon droppings. You might be forgiven for thinking that a garden is some moss that's grown up between the cracks in the platform or some weeds or buddleia trees that have been allowed to take over the sidings. But no, there are 33 entrants in this year's
LU Station Garden competition which is double the amount from last year.

Photo by Fossie1

Southfields is one of the stations that has entered, and it came 2nd in the Cultivated Garden section last year. The competition is to reward "employees who go beyond the call of duty and spend much of their free time creating a pleasant and colourful environment for their colleagues and the travelling public to enjoy by planting and keeping Underground station gardens."

Although Southfields is nothing like a garden compared to the winner from Pinner in 1966, which was so resplandant with its 3,000 plants and flowers you can hardly read the station's name.

Pinner Station Garden Winner 1966

Pinner is sadly no longer in the running and a number of other prize winning station gardens from 1966 seem to have fallen by the wayside too including Kilburn, Hammersmith (did it ever have a garden?), Moorgate, Barons Court, Finchley Central and Snaresbrook.

But hats off to the following stations whose station gardeners upkeep the gardens in their own free time and only receive an allowance to buy seeds and plants: Baker Street, Bank, Bermondsey, Canons Park, Chesham, Cockfosters, East Acton, Earl's Court, Elm Park, Epping, Farringdon, High Street Kensington, Highbury & Islington, Leytonstone, Loughton, Notting Hill Gate, North Acton, Northolt, Northwood Hills (last year's winner), Queensbury, Rotherhithe, Shepherd's Bush, South Kensington, Rickmansworth, Ruislip Gardens, Southfields, Stanmore, Stratford Market Depot, Surrey Quays, Watford, Wembley Park, West Ruislip and White City.

Most of them, as you might expect, are in the more suburban outer zones of London. But it's good to see Baker Street, Earl's Court, Shepherd's Bush (although the mind boggles with Shepherd's Bush - maybe they've had an influx of containers since I was last there), Bank and High Street Kensington. It goes to show that it's not just the "leafy" suburbs that have keen station gardeners.

Do you have a station that you think should have entered for its horticultural displays? Or is your regular home or work station amongst this year's entrants? Or do you think there's a forgotten station somewhere that could benefit from some Ground Force treatment? Gunnersbury would be my favourite as it looks more and more like the hideous concrete carpark that surrounds it and is in desparate need of something to brighten it up.


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