Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Number 429 Route (Not)


The non London routes are coming thick and fast – a bit like my riff for this route. The rules committee had an ‘ad hoc’ meeting  as the Number 429 (Dartford to Swanley, extended twice a day to Crockenhill) appears in the back –corner of the TFL South East London bus map. However we decided it was not truly a TFL route and was probably not red. The fact that Jo had already ridden the 402 was a bonus but should not be seen as a precedent. But here it is should you wish to take it:




Hanging baskets can be considered naff by real gardeners who tend to value specimen and hard-to-grow or sculptural plants over bright perky annuals like geraniums / petunias / sufinias / begonias / impatiens and I could go on.
Anna Pavord seems the exception here.

However if you are travelling through a rather grey part of London on a grey day there is nothing jollier than admiring a serried rank of hanging baskets adorning the lamp-posts, while the traffic grinds to a halt. Similarly those window boxes hung over central reservations to discourage people from vaulting into the traffic are equally prolific and effective. Some outer London boroughs prefer to focus on their roundabouts.

In France they call them ‘Ville Fleurie’ in London it is the local authorities we have to thank for brightening up their town centres and there is an element of competition between them. Local authority (financial) pruning has also been evident with some councils ‘cutting back’ (puns intended) on their green output.

However 2012 saw a new blooming expansion as perhaps austerity measures were lifted somewhat in order to celebrate both the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics – and with the Olympic Torch Parade most boroughs had one day in the spotlight and needed to make the most of their media exposure so floral displays came to the fore, with much predictable colour scheming.   

I was also not aware for example that TFL ran its own competition. How can you grow anything at Hampstead Tube Station with its deep shaft and corner site?

The private sector plays along sometimes, and Jo had heard of some research which says if faced with a choice of two similarly located pubs the public will go for the one with window boxes or hanging baskets. Some banks in the city have rather muted and refined window boxes (silver and green, you know the sort of thing)  – they certainly do not want to attract too much attention or let anyone think they can possibly afford to nurture anything except their profits. 

Still we hail and thank all those invisible gardeners who take care of these street offerings, which we can all enjoy.  A shout out too for the Guerrilla Gardener, who has given us many cheering green spots in London particularly round Elephant & Castle, where we have often found ourselves. 


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