Our Cities are Getting Greener!

Chicago skyline

You don’t think of cities as being very green. I mean, look at this shot I took of Chicago. It’s gorgeous – the sky, the architecture, the reflections. Ok, so it doesn’t look very green from this angle, but that’s where we’re wrong. Chicago is full of plantings, in fact many cities around the world are greener than ever, and here are some photos to celebrate the fact…


Down at street level it’s a totally different vibe. A talented planting designer has pulled together an extraordinary combination and it’s not only great looking but makes a profound difference to the space on an almost primal level. It’s a happy place to be. (Canna Tropicanna is the hero plant growing together with the grey Plectranthus argentatus and what I’m guessing is a form of yellow Rudbeckia.)

 Urban gardening

Here the micro climate is obviously a little shadier because the city landscaping team have grouped together plants that enjoy less sun – Impatiens at the front, the flashy foliage of the pink & green Coleus, palms and ferns. The grim fate of Nathan Hale (martyred during the American Revolutionary War) is somewhat softened in this setting.

Tropicanna at Navy Pier

Down at Navy Pier it’s all staring to make sense. City skylines will dominate and impress, but there are plenty of opportunities at their bases to fill the places where people walk, with plants. And that makes a very positive contribution to the way people feel.

 Paris doorway

Of course each city has a different style and this is a Paris entrance (above) flanked by clipped evergreen standards. So stylish. So easy to maintain and proof that there are places where restraint in colour and form works brilliantly.

 Oversized planters

The fact that the car is part of every city-scape can make it difficult to find places to grow plants successfully. In this car park and shopping precinct (above), landscapers have met many challenges. Low water species – yuccas, palms and succulents thrive even with the heat radiating off the pavement. Maintenance via a blower must be a breeze thanks to the raised pots. And pedestrians are buffered from the traffic by the pots.

 Anti-grafitti plantings

And finally, there’s an extraordinary amount of research that’s been done on reduced crime rates where plants grow. And in a funny way this shot (above) sums it up. Construction fencing usually attracts graffiti, but this tantalizing white expanse remains pristine thanks to the vertical begonia garden. Yes this is a high-end solution, but it does make you think about it as a potential treatment for situations where the annual clean-up costs are chunky.



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