Behold the future of public spaces in large metropolitan areas. The Sky Garden is billed as one of London’s most “exclusive social spaces” you can visit for free, as long as you have an appointment. It’s inside so you can visit anytime, though they do allow the outside air in (except in the restaurant's), so dress appropriately. “The designers opted for a series of richly planted terraces for Sky Garden and the planting is dominated by drought resistant Mediterranean and South African species. Individual plants have been chosen to work in harmony with the particular quality of light found under the roof canopy. Colour and flowers flourish all year round in the Sky Garden. Amongst the flowering plants are African Lily (Agapanthus), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) and Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) interspersed with fragrant herbs including French Lavender and Rosemary.”
This is quite the place, but I find it cold and depressing. It’s not a public garden but a mall landscape with restaurants and a 360 degree view! The plant list is about as ordinary and boring as it can get. This is England? It could be anyplace in any large city in the world. With all the possibilities they chose low maintenance Mediterranean plants? No wonder the population in Great Britain is paving over ¼ of their front gardens. They have gardens in large glass buildings to visit. Why do younger people not gravitate towards the garden and gardening in England? Likely, exposure to these kind of places.
In the horticulture trade we see this trend with nurseries that now have large dining areas within, sometimes enclosed within a greenhouse. We have a garden center near here that does that. Food court seems busy, but the nursery acts more as a “view” than a place to purchase plants, as I don’t see many of those diners buying the plants.
Seems as the population continues to grow, and open space becomes even more precious, we choose not to dedicate that space to growing life, but rather we pave over the earth and build the gardens within structures, or on abandoned elevated rail roads, or temporary “parklets”. These are being tried in San Francisco and other cities They do provide a sitting space desirable for pedestrians, but they’re temporary. When I went back to photograph one on Columbus Street, it had been removed.
We now have a whole population that is being brought up believing this in a typical urban garden space, because it is fast becoming so.