Urban Orchard Slips Back into the Ground

thank you photo

Images by B. Alter

We first visited the Union Street Urban Orchard when it opened, back at the end of June. It is an orchard of 85 fruit trees and more, created on an abandoned site in the east end of London. It's a community project, with volunteers helping to build and plant a pop-up garden.

And now, with the coming of autumn, the orchard is set to be dismantled and every part recycled. The fruit trees will go to a public housing development and the individual plants will go to the Wayward Plant Registry, which is a completely eccentric venture in itself...

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Started as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2010, the Orchard has been the scene of harvest parties and cider making and orchard parties all summer. Now, to celebrate the dismantling of the orchard, the Architecture Foundation will be running a series of creative reuse workshops allowing members of the public to create useful objects from the left over Orchard pallets. Under the supervision of young designers and carpenters people can get creative building their own chairs, plant boxes, bird boxes, board games and the like from recycled materials. Everything created can be taken away on the day!

wayward plants photo

Image from Wayward Plants

A new home will be found for all the plants through the Wayward Plant Registry. It is a website that finds homes for abandoned plants. These are defined as anything green really "wayward plants, whether common weeds, domestic breeds or rare botanical specimens, are truly in the eye of the beholder."

Participants with a plant to share fill out a form describing their treasure, where they found it and its care needs.

plant application photo

Image from wayward plants

Then applicants have to fill in a form that reveals all kinds of things about their attitude to plants and why they want to adopt. Heather Ring, the creator of this curious undertaking, as well as the Urban Orchard, explains "I love the idea of finding homes for plants, and the orchard is an extension of that: we've found permanent homes for all the fruit trees on local estates."

Lucky New York and San Francisco: there seem to be branches there too. We can't wait to see what she will come up with next in London.

ugly building photo

Worth noting, en route to the orchard, is this big green eyesore, the Strata Tower. It has won the Carbuncle Cup, as Britain's ugliest new building, and you can see why. It does have 1 out of the 3 wind turbines working, but otherwise it looms over the east end like a giant monster, coming into view wherever one walks.

More on the Urban Orchard

London Festival of Architecture 2010
An Urban Orchard Appears in London
Recycled Pallets are the New Architecture
London's Green Strata Tower Wins Carbuncle Cup Award