Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 9 November 2015

Separated at Birth? Piccadilly's Green Walls

A lush green wall and an artificial one as seen on Piccadilly in August 2015

Back in the summer on a trip to London, I at last found some time to gawp at the Athenaeum Hotel's green wall. Designed and executed by that master of vertical gardens Patrick Blanc, it's a fantastic showstopper on Piccadilly.

Imagine my surprise to find another green wall just a few doors down the road, using plastic greenery this time. You can decide which one's which in the above photo.

It looked like the artificial one was being used to screen the building work being carried out on the former In and Out club aka Cambridge House. This was a private members club for officers and gentlemen of the armed forces which relocated to nearby St James's Square in 1999. The building lay empty for many years, which is surprising for a Grade I listed building in such a prime location.

Earlier sources said the building is set to be the nation's most expensive home once renovation work is complete, though judging by the the latest reports it's unclear whether the site will be a home, a new watering hole, or a combination of the two.

Sadly it doesn't look like £214 to £300 million [depending on which source you read - Ed] will buy you a proper green wall when it's finished.

Update: Here's another showstopper I found in Sloane Square last year.

Previous blog posts from the same trip:

  • The Art of Swimming - a chilly dip in King's Cross Pond
  • Living Wall - a different view of the Athenaeum Hotel's green wall
  • A Royal Welcome - a look inside Buckingham Palace with a sneak view of some of the garden
  • A Malaysian Feast - a mouthwatering meal (with links to recipes) which also had this amazing view of Nelson's Column
Nelson's column as seen from the 5th floor of Tourism Malaysia's offices on Trafalgar Square


  1. There is another rather lovely green wall on the Walkie Talkie building too which we saw when visiting the Sky Garden on top. Real greenery is good astroturf no better than a fence is it?!

    1. Looking around on google it looks like they had large Union Jacks up at one point. I expect the building work has finished now so it'll be interesting to see what's actually there now, especially as the proposed forecourt bar was supposed to have a garden theme. Thanks for the tip re the Walkie Talkie building - I must go and have a look at that the next time I'm in London!

  2. The hotel wall is lovely isn't it. I saw it last time I was there and was really impressed at how beautifully maintained it is. Wish there were more like that around! CJ xx

    1. The friendly doorman is used to chatting to non-guests like me about it CJ, he even went inside to fetch me some postcards. They must be proud of it. Talking of more green walls, I'd originally envisaged a different post for this entry as I found a fab green wall in the middle of a supermarket in Toronto. I was going to make the point about the difference in where I'd expect to see green walls in the UK i.e. on more up market places. It's time they became more common in our cities as they would do so much to combat the heat island effect and whilst I love what The Athenaeum has done, there are cheaper options available to explore too.

  3. Very interesting!
    Have a wonderful week!

  4. How fabulous VP! I imagine that passing drivers must find it difficult to keep their eyes on the road. We recently came across a living wall in Berlin also designed by Patrick Blanc. Will post a photo soon.

    1. Look forward to seeing that Anna. I'd love to go to Berlin, so I'm now doubly envious of your visit :)


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