Lucie Loves... Grow Wild // My visit to London's highest summer garden at the view from the Shard
Back in October 2012, I moved to London to join the Grow Wild team at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to head up the social media side of things. Grow Wild at this point was still very much in its infancy. We had £10.5m of funding from Big Lottery Fund, big dreams and even bigger targets. Gulp!
Above: Me and Venessa Scott at Dig the City festival, Manchester
As a sort of Start Up kid, residing within the daddy that is RBG Kew, we would conjure up all of these amazing ideas about how we saw Grow Wild rolling out across the UK over the next few years. As high as our hopes were for the project – never did I imagine that one day we’d get a little corner of Grow Wild soaring 800ft above London.
Over the past few years at Grow Wild, we worked with up-cycling genius Max McMurdo (as seen on George Clark’s Amazing Spaces) to create a series of how to videos to inspire people to create their own quirky wild flower container. We also paired up with YouTuber Kick the PJ, and asked him to conjure up his own version of a Grow Wild town in his stop motion animation Bloom.
We then did a thoroughly enjoyable collaboration with nature’s heroes, street artistsATM, Louis Masai and asked them to get creative with a couple of Grow Wild shed’s. We even took Grow Wild to Glasto and found wild flower street style inspiration from fellow festival goers - Grow Wild are heading to Glasto again this year. Look out for them at Latitude and Wakehurst festival too.
Another great highlight from my time at Grow Wild was a really cool Neon Jungle gig on a London rooftopwith BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney [link].
And so, after 7 months of leaving the team to pursue my freelance career, you can imagine my delight at seeing another amazing Grow Wild collaboration happen with the guys from The View from The Shard.
Over the past 3 and a half years, Grow Wild has become a household name. You might have seen them on Countryfile (or in national UK newspapers) and signed yourself up for a free seed packet. You might know of a community group who have received funding, or even received a free seed kit, to transform a space into a wild life haven near you.
As the UK’s biggest wild flower campaign, Grow Wild is well worth celebrating – even if this does mean getting up at 3:30am on a cloudy Thursday morning to do so.
Those of you who live in London will probably have heard of The Shard – one of London’s most iconic buildings. I headed over to The View from The Shard, which towers above the London skyline at almost twice the height of any other viewing platform. It offers breath-taking 360º views for up to 40 miles, well worth a visit.
As I stepped out of the elevator on to the open air Skydeck on the 72nd floor, I marvelled at the tiny buildings, cars and people way down below. I looked around taking in the containers of wild flowers: poppies, ox-eye daisies, ragged robin and red campion, all dancing in the summer breeze.
I spotted artist Rachel Gladsen and her huge, colourful canvas. I watched Grow Wild ambassador, Hannah Schlotter aka Hannah Grows, give the guys from Grow Wild community project Cambridge House Stand-Up Garden [link] a quick how to session in sowing wild flower seeds. It was a very fun morning.
The wild flowers on display at The View from The Shard will be donated at the end of summer to the following Grow Wild community projects in London:
Fancy sowing your own UK native wild flowers this autumn then register for a free packet of native wild flowers from June 2 to Sept 18 2016. UK residents simply have to go to www.growwilduk.com/theviewfromtheshard and fill in a one-minute online form.
If you’re planning a visit to London this summer don’t forget to pop in to The View from The Shard to see the garden, which was officially declared open by Claudia Winkleman. It will play host to a series of events to celebrate The Year of the Garden and British Summertime up until 18 September 2016.
Want to find out more about Grow Wild?
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Grow Wild inspires communities, friends, neighbours and individuals across the UK to come together to transform local spaces, by sowing, growing and enjoying native wild flowers. We believe that this simple act of creativity can turn spaces into beautiful, inspiring and colourful wildlife havens; encouraging people to care for and delight in the nature around them.
Visit the Grow Wild website to learn about the community projects across the UK that are doing great things for wild flowers in your area.
Any space can be transformed – from balconies to old boots, streets to shared spaces, boxes to buckets. Anything that will hold soil, water and seeds will do: just let your imagination grow wild.
Follow Grow Wild on social media:
Photography © Lucie Kerley