London Underground comes into Bloom
This competition promotes the message that unusual places anywhere can become flourishing gardens
Images which show the Tube as an exotic and colourful location have been released today to herald the launch of Underground in Bloom, a Tube gardening competition.
Pictures of commuters going about their daily lives in stations have been transformed into dramatic and striking urban oases - revealing the Tube in a way passengers have never seen before.
Underground in Bloom is a competition which recognises London Underground (LU) staff who have added to their station by growing flowers and plants and in some cases even fruit and vegetables within a completely urban landscape.
This helps to improve the local environment, encourages flora and fauna and makes travelling more pleasant for passengers.
This year is the biggest ever Underground in Bloom competition with almost a quarter of stations, train depots and service control rooms across the network entering.
Entrants include some of London's busiest and most famous stations such as Oxford Circus, Sloane Square, South Kensington and Victoria.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'Many congratulations to these green-fingered Tube staff for their heroic efforts to make London's stations far more pleasant places for passengers.
'Making London greener brings a host of benefits and this competition promotes the message that unusual places anywhere can become flourishing gardens.'
Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, who visited a station garden today, said: 'The standard of gardens being created at London's Tube stations for this competition is just incredible.
'These gardens are showcasing to millions of people the pleasure of gardening and even, in some cases, showing how easy it is to grow fruit and vegetables in the heart of an urban environment.'
Some entrants have, for weeks, been working on their blooms in their spare time, while others are just beginning the process.
Many devote weekends and holidays to tend to plants and flowers and bring the Underground into bloom for summer. Most staff are novices, adding to the challenge of creating plant life in a busy public space.
London's secret gardens
More than half of LU is above ground and the Tube owns about 10 per cent of the entire wildlife habitat in London.
Many of these green spaces are some of London's best kept secrets as they are not accessible to the public for safety reasons, and are home to over 1,000 different animal and plant species.
The work of staff for the Underground in Bloom competition helps to protect and enhance the life of this bio-diversity.
Staff are encouraged to use methods which protect wildlife such as minimising the use of pesticides as well as being water efficient and keeping a note of the wildlife they see.
London Underground Chief Operating Officer, Howard Collins, said: 'The Underground in Bloom competition shows that there is a lot more to London Underground than tracks, trains and tunnels.
'The work of staff, beyond the call of duty, helps to create a more colourful and pleasant station environment, which can benefit passengers while protecting and maintaining the variety of wildlife and plants on the Tube for the benefit of London as a whole.'
The Underground in Bloom competition is a well established tradition on LU.
Ever since Tube stations started running above ground, wildlife habitats and gardens have formed part of the stations and the competition has been run to judge the efforts of staff who spruced them up.
At certain stations, passengers and other members of the local community work with staff to plant and tend to blooms, helping to make the garden ready for judging, which runs from 27 July to 7 August 2009.
Joe Swift, Presenter of the BBC 2 TV show Gardeners' World, said: 'Underground in Bloom proves that no matter where you are or how much or little time you may have there is still a chance to create your own little green paradise on your desk, your office or even your station.'
There are eight categories in the competition - Best Newcomer, Cultivated Garden, Hanging Baskets - the John Knight award, Trains and Service Control, Tubs, the Dennis Sanger special award, Best Overall Garden and Gardens in Bloom art category.
Geoff Hyde, Chairman of London in Bloom, said: 'London in Bloom greatly appreciates the voluntary work of London Underground staff.
'Their dedication helps to make their stations bloom - an exact parallel with the many groups who support their local Borough "In Bloom" campaigns that are taking place across the Capital.'
Notes to editors
For hi-res images please contact Nike Onakoya on 020 7126 1470.
Underground in Bloom
- Underground in Bloom aims to recognise staff that go beyond the call of duty to enhance their station environment through plants and flowers
- This year is the biggest ever Underground in Bloom with almost a quarter of stations, train depots and service control rooms across the network entered
- Inner London entrants include Bayswater, Clapham North, Oxford Circus, Victoria and South Kensington. Outer London entrants include Harrow & Wealdstone, Neasden, Sudbury Hill and Rickmansworth
- Last year's Overall Best Garden winner was Sudbury Hill with Northwood Hills in second place and High Barnet and Newbury Park stations joint third
- Judging commences from 27 July - 7 August with the announcement of winners on 10 September. Judges are senior LU officials including LU's Chief Operating Officer Howard Collins
Bio-diversity and London Underground
- LU trains run across 220km of overground track on 10 different lines
- LU is one of the biggest landowners in London
- Around 55 per cent of the LU network is above ground and it manages approximately 10 per cent of the wildlife habitat in London
- Over 1,000 different species of plants and animals have been recorded on LU land since 1999
- The 200 sites on the Tube network have been identified as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation by many of London's local authorities
- For more information on the biodiversity protection projects that are being carried out on the Tube, see LU's Biodiversity Action Plan
- LU is currently undergoing a massive investment programme to upgrade lines, increase capacity and journey times and provide a great environment for our customers. By doing this we can continue to provide a strong alternative to higher carbon modes of transport to meet the needs of London's growing population
London in Bloom
- London in Bloom supports and encourages gardening, horticulture and environmental sustainability across the 31 boroughs and two cities of Greater London
- It is one of 17 regional campaigns which make up the Royal Horticultural Society's Britain in Bloom - Europe's largest horticultural campaign
- Entries are invited from local authorities, who can run their own local in Bloom competition. Entries are also invited from community groups and schools across the region who wish to improve their local environment
- In 2008 tens of thousands of Londoners helped to enhance London's green spaces, private and public gardens, businesses as part of London in Bloom
- This engagement with neighbourhoods, towns, boroughs and cities helps to promote to the wider community the benefits of gardening as a healthy and beneficial pastime for people of all ages and experience