London’s railway stations going green with pocket gardens

Loads of railway stations across London are getting a gardening makeover as Transport for London’s (TfL) annual staff gardening competition opens for entries.

Morden station platform garden

TfL station staff have repurposed quiet corners and disused platforms into creative green spaces with various flowers and vegetables growing brightening up stations, which apart from improving the station environment, also encourage flora and fauna and make travelling more welcoming and pleasant for customers and their colleagues.

TfL’s annual staff gardening competition, “In Bloom”, is where entrants are judged on categories such as indoor garden, fruit and vegetables, and hanging baskets, tubs, and window baskets.

The idea that staff might grow plants in the stations goes back to the Underground’s earliest days, and the District line was the first to formally encourage its staff to take pride in its stations and gardens by providing funds staff could use to buy seeds and plants. The District also established a competition around 1910 to judge the best displays.

With the competition still ongoing, customers can expect an array of stations across the capital to get involved – whether it’s elaborate platform planters at stations like Acton Town or West Kensington tube station or clever uses of indoor spaces at Arnos Grove, Vauxhall and Cannon Street tube stations.

Staff at Morden tube station have transformed the disused platform into a platform garden, which bears fruits and vegetables – from cherries and potatoes to hot peppers and plums.

Daniel Holah, TfL’s Customer Service Manager at Morden tube station, said: “Tony has transformed a disused part of the station that needed some brightening up. He has managed to do this both with his amazing gardening skills bringing colour and life with his plants and flowers and also by creating Morden’s very own Wellbeing Area where staff can go to relax and have some down time whilst on duty. Tony has put a lot of time and effort into this project and it has been much appreciated by colleagues and the many customers who have made positive comments about Tony’s work.”

Morden station platform garden with Tony (c) TfL

Elsewhere, staff at Seven Kings Elizabeth line station have made their station greener by adding planters to the station entrance, corridors and large plots on the platform. They have made it a community effort by involving young people in the community in caring for the plants.

Seven Kings station garden (c) TfL

TfL has also established community gardens with the Bee Friendly Trust this year at Northfields, Wimbledon Park, High Barnet and Upton Park tube stations. Highbury & Islington station’s London Overground platform also has a Bee Friendly Trust planter honouring a local flower seller who had been outside the station for many years.

The full list of entrants to the annual station gardens competition hasn’t closed yet, but the following are the stations that have entered so far and have station gardens for you to visit.

  • Norwood Junction London Overground station
  • Abbey Wood Elizabeth line station
  • Fairlop tube station
  • Vauxhall tube station
  • Rectory Road London Overground station
  • Blackhorse Road tube station
  • Boston Manor tube station
  • West Kensington tube station
  • Cannon Street tube station
  • Highbury & Islington tube station
  • Arnos Grove tube station
  • Arsenal tube station
  • Warwick Avenue tube station
  • Tufnell Park tube station

Mark Evers, TfL’s Chief Customer Officer, said: “We encourage all customers to look out for these cheerful and colourful additions to the stations the next time you’re using the public transport network.”

Highbury & Islington – with staff members (c) TfL

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