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This week I spent my day outside on London’s Southbank, volunteering for Wayward Plants and their new installation created for the Southbank Centre Festival of Neighbourhood.

Last summer there were beach huts and sand pits, this year there will be a series of ‘rooms’ made of large planters with each plant family taking centre stage in each room. The rooms will be open during the day and closed up at night. The walls of the rooms are made up of multicoloured windows scattered with window boxes.

The drawings from Wayward show the designs:

One of the drawings that describes the plans for the 'vegetable rooms'.

One of the drawings that describes the plans for the ‘vegetable rooms’.

As 1 of 4 volunteers starting early on Friday morning I was introduced to the site and given a quick briefing. The site had already been set up and lots of the materials were already on site but we would be taking delivery of a few things during the day.

The site on the Southbank, all the 'rooms' have been laid out with the planter bases ready to be assembled.

The site on the Southbank, all the ‘rooms’ have been laid out with the planter bases ready to be assembled.

The planters that make up the 'rooms'. The upright sails slot over the blocks attached to the bases, then old scaffold boards are cut to size on site and screwed into place to make a deep planter.

The planters that make up the ‘rooms’. The upright sails slot over the blocks attached to the bases, then old scaffold boards are cut to size on site and screwed into place to make a deep planter.

The signs up on the barriers for people to find what's going on.

The signs up on the barriers for people to find what’s going on.

Our first job was to prepare the plastic window panes which had been delivered with additional tape stuck onto the edges to protect them, and this needed to be removed. Jarred (the project manager) was apologetic for the mundanity of the task, and on discoverery of this issue on the first delivery, he had since requested that the additional tape not be added to the next shipment. The tape needed to be removed as it would show up on the final windows and this would detract from the final effect.

The dreaded super sticky silver tape, sometimes it peeled off in one, sometimes not.

The dreaded super sticky silver tape, sometimes it peeled off in one, sometimes not.

The volunteers working hard to prepare the plastic for the windows.

The volunteers working hard to prepare the plastic for the windows.

I met some really interesting people during my time with Wayward and one of the benefits of a mundane task like peeling tape of plastic is that you get to have a good old natter!

It was also really lovely to spend the day (even if it was pretty cold for May) on the south bank of the Thames, watching the world go by, including a few friendly kayakers:

Friendly kayaks passing by.

Friendly kayaks passing by.

During the day, we took delivery of the window frames which had been built and painted off site…

The van full of windows (freshly painted and only just dry) it took about 45 mins to unload the whole lot.

The van full of windows (freshly painted and only just dry) it took about 45 mins to unload the whole lot.

Jarred from Wayward Plants carrying lots of window frames from van to site.

Jarred from Wayward Plants carrying lots of window frames from van to site.

Laying out the windows on tarp so that they can be covered up.

Laying out the windows on tarp so that they can be covered up.

The windows are painted all slightly different greys, whites and yellows. We stacked them in colours as some of them still had tacky paint.

The windows are painted all slightly different greys, whites and yellows. We stacked them in colours as some of them still had tacky paint.

One of the tasks I had hoped to get involved in was making some of the benches that will form the seating around the planters and double as storage for the watering cans. However, part of the cons of volunteering is that it’s your task to do whatever job it is that is required at that time, so you can’t be too picky.

These benches will both be seating for the 'rooms' and storage for kit like watering cans.

These benches will both be seating for the ‘rooms’ and storage for kit like watering cans.

The materials moved into the site in order for more benches to be put together quickly.

The materials moved into the site in order for more benches to be put together quickly.

I returned for a few hours on Saturday and spent some time moving the materials from the store to the site in order that more benches could be put together. The other job was cutting off the tips of the sail bases as they had been cut just 1 cm too long to fit.

I really enjoyed my time with the Wayward Plant team and the other volunteers. And guess where the vegetable plants are being grown for the exhibition…. yup, OrganicLea! It’s a small world when you’re in the urban growing scene in London, and it’s nice to be involved.

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7 thoughts on “Queens Walk Window Gardens

  1. Another great post, Al. The Southbank has some fantastic events. Lots of news about gardens at the moment as one friend was organising a ‘Chelsea Fringe’ event in Shepherd’s Bush on Sat called Edible Askew Road. All the local businesses sponsored fruit trees for special tubs in front of their shop and they had childen’s competitions etc. And our neighbour is organising a similar edible street display in Twickenham for the Twickenham River Festival in June. Kew has an huge Edible exhibition starting next week so edible is flavour of the month (pun intended!). xx

    • It’s great isn’t it! So much going on in London this summer. Thanks for the heads up on the Edible Kew exhibition, i’ll have to check that out x

  2. Hi Al Love the Window Gardens project, we are going to The National next week, so will go and have a look, and take all our friends along to look too. Luckily we are going to a matinee, so it will be daylight!

    We are coming to see the cork Tetrashed on Wednesday morning ? Perhaps see you at lunchtime if you are free.

    Don’t forget to send us details of the dungarees you would like.

    Lots of love

    Nicky & Richard xxx

  3. Darling Alice, are you having a super day? At least the weather is being kind. I’ve just come in from the garden because it was too hot. Thank you for your card & message .I’ve decided not to grow tomatoes this year. It looks as though you may have enough for all of us.! Our lunch in Folkestone was a great success We all said we would go there again.. Going to have a read now.. The washing has dried outside for the first time this year. Such a treat to be bleached in the sun .L.O.L.& a big hug. G.xxx

    Sent from my iPad

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