There’s an experiment taking place that might see old underground ticket offices turned into new potted gardens.
At St James’s Park tube station, at the far exit, closest to Victoria Street, the two glass windows that overlooked the barriers now offer a window into a greener world.
Putting plants in a tube station isn’t that unusual, as the annual Underground in Bloom competition shows, but here they are putting the plants in an environment that was thought to be less hospitable to plants growing, indoors with minimal light.
Some of the issues faced were expected, such as making sure the plant box complied with fire regulations, and wouldn’t be affected by the perpetual brake dust that seems able to penetrate every part of the London Underground.
However, as reps from the landscape gardeners, The Edible Bus Stop explained, the unexpected problem was to stop the plants growing too fast. Fast growing plants need more maintenance, and part of the requirements is that maintenance should be minimal, ideally no more than once a fortnight.
So the plants are kept in pots to restrict root growth – and make swapping them out later easier, and the soil had its nutrient quality reduced. The result is a contained box with an LED lamp on top that needs to be watered just once a fortnight.
Mirrors on three walls magnifies the effect of the planting within.
The experiment is part of a programme that looks to improve the station environment, with novel ideas such as this to bring a small smile to people who notice them.
If the plants work, then it might be expanded to other stations, possibly with a focus on those with suitably gardening names, such as maybe Tufnell Park, Wood Green, Holland Park, etc.
About 1-in-50 people rushing through the station spot the plants in the old ticket office, and now you know where to find them yourself.