Renowned flower designer and horticulturist Dan Pearson reveals new details and images about his planned project, a ‘Garden’ Bridge spanning the Thames, all the way to the Inner Temple area to the Southbank’s cultural center due to open in 2018. Pearson plans to create a ‘magical place in the center of London’ and a natural refuge within the city.
A bold project
Pearson is planning to utilize plants that will showcase the best of London’s native landscape. He says that ‘What we are planning to do is create a garden, which is a center of horticultural excellence in the epicenter of London.’ He wants it to be accessible to all, and something that Londoners ‘can be really excited about.’
Pearson describes the transition from informally placed plants from the Southbank as reflective of the environment around it. The Southbank was once marshy area full of willow beds, and the garden emulates this; with the plants and the trees on the Southbank side being planted more informally.
As the bridge reaches the north bank, the plants and trees will become more diverse, which reflects how the northern area was full of intricate gardens of the law courts full of exotic plants and award-winning specimens. He says that plants will include many species that once thrived in central London, such as birch, primroses, honeysuckle, and willows. He notes that ‘these will be coppiced on a rotation, which will give this end of the bridge dynamism and a sense of regeneration.’ The bridge will feature five different zones – Southbank, Scarp, South Glade, North Glade, and North Bank all culminating to the arrival at the Inner Temple gardens.
Not without criticism
The Garden Bridge was conceived as early as 1998 and it has received many opponents due to the cost and scale of the project. Despite most people’s reaction being positive, Pearson’s ‘Garden’ bridge has met with criticism, with many saying that the bridge will be a ‘blot on the landscape’. The proposed bridge is actually just 300 meters away from neighboring Waterloo Bridge, which is the best area to view Saint Paul’s Cathedral at the east and the Houses of Parliament on the western side. Many are complaining that when the bridge is finally complete, people will no longer be able to see the cathedral, the view having already been compromised due to bright Blackfriar’s Bridge.
The cost of building London’s ‘tiara’ is also of note, with aprojected amount of £175 million. Although the Garden Bridge Trust says that the bridge will ‘improve the quality of live of everyone in London’, many locals believe that the project is too extravagant and ambitious. The Garden Bridge is also drawing comparison to London’s High Line, which is as impressive as the proposed project and was built at almost half the cost. Many are also wondering how such an expensive bridge can be paid off if visitors and locals are given free rein to cross the bridge at a whim. Only time will tell if this ambitious project will really blossom or simply wilt.