Champion a green corner of London

The search is on to find London's green corners - patches of ground gardened by Londoners that make the city a brighter place to live in as well as help improve its biodiversity - says Pattie Barron
Do you walk past a terrific front garden on your way to work? Is there a flower-filled balcony in your street that makes you smile? The Green Corners Awards have been set up by the Conservation Foundation to celebrate these special spaces and are officially supported by Homes & Property.

"Your chosen green corner could be a balcony or roof garden that you see from the top of the bus, a stairwell you pass every day, a glorious windowbox or a pocket of waste land that has been transformed by someone's green fingers and brightens everyone's life," says David Shreeve, co-founder, with David Bellamy, of the Conservation Foundation, which promotes environmental news, awareness and action throughout the UK.

To enter the Green Corners Awards, which are part of the foundation's 25th anniversary programme, nominate a space that cheers your day - the only proviso is that it must be visible to someone other than its owner. We hope to find up to 100 winners from those Londoners who are nominated and, as the awards are sponsored by Capco Covent Garden, they will be invited to participate in the first stages of bringing the garden back to this especially vibrant area of central London.

All the winners, and those who have nominated them, will be invited to an awards ceremony later in the year, when each winner will receive an engraved trowel, a £50 garden-centre voucher and a copy of Elspeth Thompson's The London Gardener. And those who nominated them will each receive a bottle of champagne. The judges - David Bellamy, actress Susan Hampshire, chief executive of Capco Ian Hawksworth, Councillor Alexander Nicoll, garden writer Elspeth Thompson, David Shreeve and myself - will be at the celebration to present the awards and hear the winners' creative ideas for greening the capital.

Green up your outdoor space and improve the environment, too

Behind this awards initiative, however, is a heartfelt plea for Londoners to put the green back into their outdoor spaces. The message is that whatever your outdoor patch - balcony or back garden, courtyard or rooftop - you should cherish it and make the most of it.

Most importantly, do your bit to prevent flooding and discourage drought. Think twice before laying concrete slabs on patio and pathway, or making a parking space in the front garden that pushes out any chance of planting. Our front gardens are disappearing under a sea of concrete and, aside from this dull view not making anybody's day, rain runs off paving instead of draining into the water table.

Get back to grass or choose gravel, which allows water to sink between the stones, and express your style to the world with your choice of plants: topiary, prairie, cottage-garden, exotic. A driveway with or without a car looks so much more appealing with a simple structure of wood pillars and crossbeams, over which you can string a summer vine or encourage a cheering, winter-flowering clematis such as cirrhosa.

Add foliage and flower, berry and fruit to your outdoor space not just to enrich the landscape, but to bring in birds, bees, insects and butterflies. Instead of a fence, consider a mixed hedgerow laced with ivy that makes a nest, rest and refreshment corridor for wildlife.

How to champion a green corner of London

Send your entry to, or London's Green Corners, The Conservation Foundation, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Enclose at least one clear photograph of your chosen space, along with the name of the entrant, their address, telephone number and email address, as well as your name and telephone number. Entries must be received by 5.30pm on Friday 24 August.

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