Marylebone Library, though located in central London, is surrounded by a surprising amount of gardening activity. One enterprising shop at the north end of Marylebone High Street has gone beyond the clichéd troughs of pelargoniums and incorporated succulents into stacked hollow concrete blocks. Looking up to roof level, glimpses of roof gardens can often be glimpsed above a parapet. From Marylebone Library’s first floor rear windows, look across to the opposite roofline for a local example.
Library staff have entered into the gardening spirit and started to plant up a border (this will be the subject of a future post, as this garden is in its early days and the border is more Somme battlefield than green oasis!).
If these examples inspire you to start gardening, Westminster Libraries has lots to help – from specific plant and general cultivation guides, through gardening periodicals to design guides for urban gardens.
Many dream of large lawns and long herbaceous borders, but the reality for Marylebone gardeners is usually much more modest. For design ideas and inspiration in this environment consult Urban Gardens: plans and planting designs by Anne-Marie Powell.
Although you may feel restricted by space, remember the urban environment has some benefits. To start with, London’s average winter temperature range is several degrees higher than rural areas, so more tender plants can be grown and overwintered outside. This aspect is discussed in Rooftop and Terrace Gardens by Caroline Tilston, alongside practical issues for roof and balcony gardeners, such as avoiding structural damage from the weight of filled containers, the risk of pots falling off window ledges etc.
Whilst container gardening is a major element in urban gardening, the gardener is not restricted to looking down at plants in pots. Remember to use the surrounding walls for climbers to create a further dimension to the garden. Clematis and Climbers by John Feltwell offers suggestions for covering vertical spaces.
Container gardening is not restricted to ornamental plants, you can also grow herbs, fruit and vegetables. Suitable plants are listed in this guide from the Royal Horticultural Society: How to Grow Fruit and Veg in Pots.
The books listed above are just a taster of what is available in Westminster Libraries, particularly in the wide ranging lending and reference collections at Marylebone Library & Information Service. So why not visit us and browse the gardening shelves for inspiration and guidance before winter departs and gardening activity can resume?