Saturday, 25 April 2015

A garden in the sky

In the last 20 months alone, The View From The Shard, the Orbit in the Olympic Park, and most recently, the Sky Garden in the Walkie Talkie have all opened, giving Londoners a chance to look down on their city from a variety of angles, like a queen ant looking down on her anty subjects scurrying around the streets below.

Having ticked the first two off my list (I love a view, I do), Sunday was time to hit the concave monstrosity that is the Walkie Talkie. The Sky Garden is completely free to visit, although you do have to book well in advance. For the more sophisticated skygoer, there are bars and restaurants up on high, but if it's a good old-fashioned nosey around you're after, a free ticket is more than adequate.

A quick hop through airport-style security (because really, what self-respecting building doesn't have airport-style security these days?) and a lift ride later, we were standing in the Sky Garden. Three floors of rainforest-style greenery, rockeries and glass windows over the city.

Many of the plants and trees have a bit of growing to do yet before they reach their full potential, but it's easy to see what the planners were going for. Think Eden Project meets urban jungle and you're just about there - the only thing missing is a hummingbird or two flitting from tree to tree.

From one giant to another...a view of The Shard just across the river from the outside viewing gallery

The garden is spread over three floors, the highest part of the viewing gallery facing North, with much of the view blighted by the cluster of skyscrapers in the Square Mile (the Gherkin, the Cheesegrate, the Heron Tower and co.). Turn 180 degrees and there's an outdoor viewing gallery over the South side of the building, looking down onto the river and beyond.

Some tall ships were faffing about on the river while we were there, so Tower Bridge kept opening.

Now for something that's been bugging me ever since. Many of the trees are already fully grown, several feet high with branches sticking out every which way. The garden has only been open a couple of months, so presumably these trees were already a decent size when they were planted. How did they get them up there?  Some of them are too big to fit in the lift. Nature dictates that you can't take a tree apart, then but it back together once it's in situ, not successfully anyway. So how did they get them up there? Answers in the comments please.

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