In Pictures: London's Tube Station Gardens

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 10 months ago

Last Updated 22 September 2023

In Pictures: London's Tube Station Gardens
A TfL worker picking apples from a tree
Did you know there's a been a gardening competition for tube staff for over 100 years?

Gardens in tube stations are a thing — in fact an annual gardening competition stretches back more than 100 years, when green-fingered members of the District line staff (fitting tube line colour) started planting fruits, veg and other plants.

A pocket garden next to tube train platforms
A disused platform at Acton Town + recycled crates makes for a pretty garden.

Fast forward to 2023, and TfL has just announced the winners of its 'In Bloom' competition — the theme being 'Healthy Plants, Healthy People, Healthy Earth.' 57 gardens took part — and there were some creative winners from the members of staff who give up their free time to put together pocket gardens in unused parts of stations, using everything from hanging baskets to empty crates. (We should point out that while some gardens are public, others are staff only.)

A tiny garden outside a ticket office with 'Highbury and Islington' written on it
You might be able to guess which station this is.

Morden won the Best in Show award, and the Fruit & Vegetables category; staff have been growing the likes of sour cherries, chilli peppers, apricots, limes, kale and gooseberries here for eight years now — sometimes even sharing their produce with passengers.

An aerial view of a small garden with gravel and shrubs. A person stands in the middle holding out their arms
Upminster — this garden, alas, is just for the staff.

Highbury & Islington scooped the titular Healthy Plants, Healthy People, Healthy Earth category. Thousands of commuters admire this tiny oasis every day — which is occupied by air-cleansing likes of  ivy, kentia palms and peace lilies.

A small garden with a Monet style painting of a bridge, and a woodchip path
Another staff garden, at Barking.

Acton Town is in the plum position of having a whole disused platform to work with. With its colourful plants, many grown in recycled containers — plus sculptures and wind chimes — it was awarded Cultivated Station Garden, and is there to be admired by anyone passing through.

A garden in the foreground, with a Morden roundel and platform steps behind
Morden — winner of Best in Show and the Fruit & Vegetables category

Other 2023 winners include Blackhorse Road (Indoor Garden), Barking (Best Seasoned Entry), Northfields Train Crew Accommodation (Environment), Hammersmith Service Control Centre (Best Newcomer) and Upminster Train Crew Accommodation (Cultivated Depot Garden).

All images © TfL