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Garden Bridge will support wildlife in central London

The Garden Bridge will offer a new kind of green space in the heart of the city, strengthening London’s status as the greenest capital in Europe.

The Bridge will link the tree lined South Bank to the Victoria Embankment Gardens and Temple Gardens on the North Bank providing an ecological corridor which connects green spaces on either sides of the river. It will provide an ever-changing seasonal landscape incorporating a 2500 m² planting area for wildlife-friendly tree and plant species and features on the Bridge have the potential to benefit biodiversity.

Award winning landscape designer Dan Pearson has been working on the project with ecological experts at Arup, the civil engineering firm who are leading the design and Willerby the world renowned landscaping contractor. They have been creating plans for the garden by carefully selecting every plant, tree and flower to foster biodiversity. The garden will feature indigenous river-edge species and will support the city’s ecological diversity. The result will be a green haven in the middle of the city.

Dan Pearson has taken inspiration from plant cultivation in London over the centuries, starting with the wild marshlands on the South Bank before reaching the ornamental gardens of the North Bank. The five landscape areas will also reflect the varying climates along the length of the Bridge and the exposed location over the river.

The plants species have been carefully selected to provide a wide variety of flowering, berrying and fruiting species that will benefit wildlife. Natural dipping pools, hibernaculas and winter perennial habitat will also help attract faunal biodiversity all year round.

The Bridge will contribute to, enhance and enrich the existing environmental habitats through a naturalistic planting style. Plants have been chosen to provide an abundance of nectar-rich flower and fruit throughout the seasons to create a habitat corridor attractive to pollinators and birds.

Features on the Bridge, such as hibernacula and dipping pools, have the potential to benefit biodiversity. Hibernaculas are homes for many invertebrates or some larger species to hibernate overwinter often formed from dead wood and rocks, or just to use as part of their lifecycle.

Plant varieties have all been judged for their ability to enrich the broadest possible eco-system and deliver an extended season of interest. The goal is to foster biodiversity, changeability and maturity rather than a fixed and static vision.

Dan Pearson said: “Whatever the season, the planting will provide year round colour and interest with spring blossom and flowering bulbs, high summer flowers, autumn colour and winter interest from evergreens, scented shrubs and bulbs. An abundance of nectar-rich flower, berries and fruit will also create somewhere attractive to wildlife and the planting will also enhance and frame beautiful new views up and down the river.”

The proposed planting schemes are inspired by wild plants aimed at creating an ecologically sustainable green corridor to encourage pollination and biodiversity.

  • Willows will provide winter colour, and early spring catkins for pollinators.
  • Glastonbury Thorn, a twice-flowering hawthorn as well as bulbs and perennial fruiting plants, which will attract Bees and other pollinators to the area.
  • Woodland featuring native and ornamental plants that have been selected for spring blossom and autumn fruit.
  • Wild pears planted throughout will provide spring blossom and fruit for birds.
  • Bird baths and dipping pools will be provided on the Bridge for wildlife.
  • Tapestry hedges will contain a mix of evergreens, with berrying hawthorn and native sweet briar roses.
  • Perennials will be underplanted with wild strawberries and intermingled with ornamental grasses, snowdrops and native wild daffodils for spring interest.
  • Silvery shrubby willows will provide a contrast to the evergreens, and catkins in late winter which provide early forage for bees.
  • Laurel, figs, vines, roses, while a selection of scented late winter and early spring flowering shrubs continue the fragrant plantings of the North Glade.
  • Underplantings provide year round interest with spring and autumn flower, grasses and a range of spring, summer and autumn flowering bulbs.

 

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