As well as improving the visual amenity of the area they are a vital link in the green corridor of the Thames foreshore and each year attract a growing number of enthusiastic visitors from all over London.
The value of the Thames and it’s shoreline for wildlife is recognised here providing shelter and breeding grounds for wildlife which otherwise would struggle to survive.
The Garden Barges are the infrastructure of the mooring, providing access to the individual residential crafts. They are interconnected with special designed aluminium brows, which have been designed to follow the movement of the river.
The “tree barge” has a square of quince trees in its centre, a long row of lavender and again herbs; mint, oregano and borage.
The third and fourth lead across the moorings like a long thread. One is planted up with divisions of box hedging, appearing unexpectedly formal.
These once redundant Thames Lighters also provide both living and studio spaces beneath their gardens, with skylights looking up on either side.
The soil on the gardens is a mix of 50% farmyard manure and 50% top soil in a long steel trench that has been individually modified for each barge. Each boat has a series of drainage channels to allow water to run through into the Thames. In very hot weather the boats each need a daily soaking. Mains water is mostly used but, in times of shortage, water is pumped from the Thames (the river here in the Upper Pool is barely saline).
It is intended to set up a watering system for the garden barges – pumping river water up through hosepipes and sprinklers. This is at the research stage.