Mark Kirwin, a supervisor at Finchley Central, has created a colourful, award-winning garden on one of the station’s platforms.
Practically single-handed he has transformed a derelict piece of ground into an oasis of colour that regularly scoops top awards in London Underground’s annual Underground in Bloom competition.
It all began in 2008 when Mark decided to do something to ‘green’ the suburban Northern Line station.
“I decided to tackle a piece of waste ground about the length of one-and-half tube carriages on the southbound platform, as it’s an area that gets the sun most of the day.”
With help from his partner, Ian, who is extremely knowledgeable about plants, the pair first had to prepare the ground. Working in their spare time, they dug out the area, put down a plastic membrane, covered it with shingle, ballast and stones and brought in 300 bags of soil.
“I started with a blank canvas with the intention of creating a country-style flower garden right here in London, which I think we have achieved,” said Mark.
A wide selection of colourful flowers have been planted out, including annuals and perennials so as to give colour all year round, with pots filled with bedding plants in the summer.
“I had a plan for the garden right from the start and have generally followed a colour scheme using shades of orange and purple,” said Mark.
For three years from 2008 the garden came second in the Cultivated Gardens and Tubs category in the Underground in Bloom competition. In 2011 it received the contest’s top accolade by being awarded the Dennis Sanger Chief Operating Officer Special Award, beating off competition from stations across the Underground network.
Mark said: “I was absolutely delighted to receive the top prize after picking up three second prizes in previous years.”
The country-style garden regularly receives praise from passenger, with children appreciating the animals and other small sculptures that are hidden amongst the plants.
“One woman told me that she always comes to the station at least 15 minutes before she needs to get a train, “ said Mark. “This is so she can walk up and down the platform to smell and admire the flowers.”
Mark has put in an irrigation system so that when he is on leave the other station staff just have to turn on a tap to water the plants to prevent them from drying out.
Text and photo by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend