Taking Flowers Underground - wildflowers in the urban environment

River of Flowers
Thursday, 9th May 2013

Nature blooms in the London Underground in May as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival 2013. The Meadow Line project by River of Flowers will transform 10 metro (subway) stations in London into tubular wildflower meadows. The project raises awareness to the importance of pollinators and wild plants while adding colour to the city.

Nature will be brought to London on May 19th as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival 2013.

The Meadow Line is a project by The River of Flowers who create urban meadows all over London. The project will begin at Embankment Station at noon, filling tube stations across the city with wild native, bee and butterfly friendly plants. River of Flowers work with communities to create trails or 'rivers of wildflowers' in cities for bees, butterflies and other pollinators - the same pollinators that are essential for our own food supply, and to raise awareness of the role of wildflowers in the urban environment. 

The ten tubular containers have been made from steel guttering to create a meadow two metres in length. These will be planted with wonderful nectar and pollen rich native plants, such as the butterfly plant Birdsfoot Trefoil, Harebell and Heartsease, to show that cultivated plants are not the only ones with style and beauty. Wildflowers can be just as glorious and they are often better for native pollinators. 

Ten stations in zones 1 and 2 are involved as shown on the Daisy Chain Map of the Meadow Line. Stations south of the river, are Southwark (Jubilee), Lambeth North (Bakerloo) and Stockwell (Victoria).

Lambeth North will be donating its tubular meadow to Roots & Shoots that is storing the tubular meadows. To the east of the city, are Bromley-by-Bow (Hammersmith & City) who will be sponsered by Urban Bees and the Barbican (Metropolitan) tube stations, who will be donating its meadow to the Fann Street Wildlife Garden just down the road. The Barbican will be sponsered by Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK).

Up in north London, both Highgate (Northern) and Arsenal (Piccadilly) are looking forward to receiving and growing their wildflowers in the stations themselves, with Arsenal being sponsered by Cob in the Community, as are Bayswater (Circle), Nottinghill Gate (Central) and South Kensington (District), in west London. South Kensington are so enthusiastic that there are talks about planting a small meadow at the end of the platform! 

Seedball will also be sponsoring a station, which is still to be confirmed.

Since the 1950s, the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows. Planting wildflowers will help to return some of those lost meadows. 

A harebell, by Brigit Strawbridge

Since 2010, River of Flowers donate wildflowers each season, supporting different communities including primary schools, colleges, friends of parks or community gardens. This year is the 150th anniversary of the London Underground they have chosen to introduce wildflowers to underground stations. After all, don’t all meadows begin underground?

They will also be making a video of the experience including finding out from commuters what they think of the wildflowers in their stations. Join River of Flowers on Sunday 19 May 2013 at the Embankment Station.

We'd ask the bees but they would just hummm!

More resources

Watch gardeners brighten the city: Meet the Guerrilla Fruit Tree Grafters

Revive old and dull walls: How to Make Your Own Moss Graffiti

Watch: Guerrilla Gardening at Occupy Wall Street

Watch: Urban Permaculture - Creating a Rooftop Food Farm in New York