True Gripes: Paradise paved: Where have all the gardens gone?

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The Independent Online
Although the municipal parks are well kept, I am constantly struck by the lack of trees and shrubs on the the streets of the capital and the lack of interest that Londoners show in their own gardens.

Having a front garden so small that it would be laughed at elsewhere is an expensive commodity in London, so I am amazed at the number of concrete stretches, crazy-paving paths and litter storage units which pass as gardens.

Walking around the streets of Tufnell Park, Holloway and Kentish Town you could be forgiven for thinking that gardens are subject to a tax which is avoidable if any offending foliage is concreted over.

The house next door has covered its huge front garden with crazy paving, though as a concession, a small hedge runs along the outside edge. On the other side, the garden is a small island of roses in a sea of grey concrete.

In north London, trees on the road side have become as rare as public lavatories, which perhaps explains why dogs use them as toilets. And a patch of grass is an even rarer sight.

Drive through Kentish Town to Archway, a four-mile stretch - and you can count the number of grass verges on one hand. Outside the Drum & Monkey pub on Junction Road,

people sit on benches placed decoratively on concrete. Even the small grounds of the Hindu temple are covered in Tarmac.

The old bandstand by Kentish Town Tube station has several

benches, though it is a shabby and uninviting place to sit. The pavements are stained and strewn with cigarette butts and beer cans - why are there no trees or shrubs, or even a tub of flowers? Where my road meets another there is a little patch of land, with three wooden benches. Aside from a couple of bushes and two lacklustre trees, it is entirely paved over.

There is no grass - the only burst of green is from the luminous council rubbish sacks which have yet to be collected.

In Luton, a town dominated by an ugly shopping centre, the council has enacted a careful plan of regeneration. It has pedest-rianised the town centre and planted tubs with trees and flowers, and adorned lamposts with hanging baskets teeming with colourful flowers.

The town's busiest roundabouts have been liberally covered with trees and flowers, supported by the sponsorship of local companies.

As I don't have a garden, I planted a small conifer with some shrubs in a tub outside my house in a vain attempt to introduce some green into my grey environment. The next morning it was gone.

I will be buying another.

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