Many of the trees to fill the ten decorated steel tree planters – commissioned to line part of one of the city’s busiest traffic routes – have arrived on the London Road.
Bath-based artist Jane Veveris Callan was commissioned by B&NES to create decorative designs to go on to the containers as part of a somewhat controversial improvement scheme to the top end of the London Road – the A4 – into Bath.
They are being installed on the left hand side pavement. This has already been newly laid with decorative setts and also planters will be placed on central road reservations.
Jane collaborated with Alan Summers and Karen Hoy of ‘With Words’ to work with the community – gathering local history and stories as words, with haiku and renga poems, which have informed her resulting designs.
CorTen steel is a weather-resistant alloy designed to quickly acquire a dense tight layer of rust. It’s an air and water-tight patina which will prevent the steel from rusting any further. Colour-wise the surface will have a warm, natural appearance which will fade from orange to brown over time.
There are twelve different designs across the decorated sides of the planters – which are laser cut into the steel.
You can follow what is happening – and find out what inspired some of the designs – by logging onto wordsonthea4.blogspot.co.uk.
On the site, artist Jane Veveris Callan says: ‘Once the planters are in place they will will be planted up with colourful succulents ‘Sempervivum’ and Alium, with variegated ivy trailing down over the undecorated sides.
Very fittingly for Snow Hill, the trees going into the planters are ‘Amelanchier’ also known as the Snowy Mespil, due to their large white flowers which blossom in June. The Central island tree pits will be planted with ‘Tilia Cordata’ the small leafed Lime, which has a beautiful conical shape.’
The planters are just one of the ‘improvements’ being carried out as part of the London Road Gateway Project which aims to improve the public realm of the stretch of London Road between Cleveland Place junction and Morrisons supermarket.
Traders and residents have had to put up with months of disruption – as have motorists going in and out of Bath on a road regarded as one of the most polluted in Europe. Some extra green ‘lungs’ will no doubt be welcomed.
Though l am hearing some concern about ‘hard edges’ on the metal planters being a bit of a hazard for those with sight impairments. While others are hoping local residents will have enough community spirit to remove any bottles, cans cigarette butts and other litter that might end up in the containers! One container has reportedly already been hit by a van.