Where Soil Meets City

London’s gardens don’t just make themselves you know…

Words: Niki Gorick

We think

I am old enough to remember when gardening books all had black and white pictures.  It was not very useful if you ever wanted to identify a plant or admire the finer parts of a border: it was a case of “The grey plant next door to the other greyer thing”.  Since those dark days photography has improved immeasurably and we can pick out every petal and admire even the slightest tonal shift.

But, there will always be room for really good black and white photography as can be seen in this quirky book.  Basically, it is a document following the men and women who make, build and maintain gardens and parks through the City of London.

This is the book that accompanied an exhibition of Niki Gorick’s photographs which ran in the Guildhall Library until 26th July.  You have probably missed the exhibition but you still lay your hands on the book.  Niki is a photographer of city life whose work has been exhibited at the Barbican (as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations) and whose photographs are in both private and corporate collections.

There are more than 200 green spaces in the City for the pleasure and relaxation of the 380,000 or so people who work here.  Every year they get through 200,000 bedding plants, look after 1500 trees and spread hundreds of tons of mulch.  All done with the efficiency and speed of a Commando raid as nothing must interfere with the smooth running of one of the greatest cities in the world.

We love

The amazing pictures showing every aspect of gardening.  You can see the planning, the effort and the care that is put into this work.  It is a great insight into the immense, and grossly undervalued, skill that gardeners need in order to keep our green spaces beautiful.  It is not often that the everyday processes of landscaping are documented is such careful detail and, even though I may be biased, as I have long been fascinated by such goings on, it is a lovely thing to see,

Quibble

It is perhaps a little bit clinical and although the quotes from the various gardeners are a nice touch it would have been good to find out a bit more about the actual people.  It would have made it a warmer book.