It’s not every station on the Underground network that has an award-winning garden complete with sculptures, hanging baskets, fruit trees and a pond!
Nevertheless this is exactly what staff have created in their spare time at High Barnet station, on the northern tip of the busy Northern line.
The driving force behind the gardening project consists of duty station manager Marc Jones, supervisor Darren Brown and customer service assistant Eric Alflatt, all keen and knowledgeable gardeners
Marc began the greening of High Barnet in a small way in 2007 with help from the group manager’s assistant Lisa Sainsbury. They started out by planting flowers on a small plot of ground, but soon became more adventurous.
“There was a large area of derelict land on some sloping ground by the side of the station which we decided to turn it into the main garden,” said Marc.
Other members of the station staff became involved and they all chipped in to help transform the bare site.
Using discarded used railway sleepers to help create terracing, the garden features lots of flowers, apple and pear trees, attractive hanging baskets, with large wooden sculptures donated by a local sculptor.
“We have planted lots of evergreens to keep the garden looking attractive all year round and put in various seasonal bedding plants,” said Marc. A small lower garden area features a pond.
The station receives a small annual gardening budget from London Underground, with the staff contributing in terms of buying plants.
“We do all the work needed to maintain the garden in our spare time, either during meal breaks, staying late or on our days off,” said Darren.
High Barnet was one of the winners in the 2011 Underground in Bloom the Tube’s own annual gardening competition, coming third in the Hanging Basket category.
The station has also won quite a few other Underground in Bloom prizes over the years, plus picking up top awards in the Barnet in Bloom and London in Bloom competitions.
“We know from customer reaction that the colourful displays we have created make the station more welcoming and attractive,” said Marc. “We have had a great deal of positive customer feedback, with some regular passengers donating plants for us to use.”
In 2011 over 70 stations, depots and service control rooms took part in the Underground in Bloom competition.
Text and photos by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend