The tradition of the station garden is alive and well. Indeed thanks to the ever growing number of station partnerships and the work of the Aldingbourne Trust many stations across the Southern franchise now have superb displays in hanging baskets , tubs and planters . This activity is in addition to the ground gardening activities bringing scrubby areas back into cultivation, not only to look good but to produce fruit and vegetables and support local wildlife.
Just along one line, for example, Uckfield station has planters on the forecourt. At Buxted station staff do the gardening and have created extensive floral displays. Crowborough has planters courtesy of the local garden centre and planted by the Oakleaf group who work with people with learning difficulties. Spa Valley Railway looks after planters on the platform at Eridge where the heritage railway meets the main line and at Hever a butterfly garden, provided by Hever Castle, has been planted by Hever Primary School. Edenbridge Primary School look after a delightful planter on the Town station and two big raised beds in front of the station have
been adopted by a local landscape gardener. East Grinstead has a large project by East Grinstead in Bloom while at Lingfield, which has just been adopted by the local racecourse, work has started clearing the platforms before planting goes ahead.
Along all the other lines many similar stories can be told with the end result for all to see, making waiting for trains an enjoyable experience. There is an added advantage. Many stations, in rural areas are not staffed all day. Having volunteers pottering (sorry) around means that the station has people there which is a very powerful deterrent for those who might be thinking of some minor or indeed more serious acts of vandalism. Indeed London Road, just outside Brighton where the partnership has won innumerable local and national awards and attracted the attention of Mayors and M.P.s recently had a report from British Transport Police and Sussex Police that the occurrence of acts of vandalism and bad behaviour had drastically reduced since the Station Partnership had been working there.
The Aldingbourne Trust, based near Chichester in West Sussex, aims to support and offer real, valued, community work for adults with learning disabilities and works partnership with local organisations like Southern Rail. It is delivering and maintaining stunning floral displays in over 19 stations raising awareness and challenging pre-conceived ideas relating to people with learning disabilities. Consequently, the Trust’s success has developed from not only hanging baskets and floral tubs on the station platforms to being approached to transform planting areas, normally laid to wasteland, but which now feature colour and attractive garden designs which are pleasing to the eye.