Another part of the elevated Promenade Plantée, this bamboo tunnel is just above the Viaduc des Arts, where art studios and craft workshops now occupy the brick arches of the nineteenth century railway viaduct. The narrow leaves of the bamboo flutter in the breeze and cast light, dappled shade over the path. It’s plain and simple planting but the effect is infinitely varied.
The elevated park was conceived by it’s designers, Philippe Mathieux and Jacques Vergely, as a series of garden sitting areas linked by a green promenade. Each ‘garden’ along the track has different features and a different combination of trees, shrubs and other plants. Some areas have matured more successfully than others, those plants best adapted to the conditions are starting to dominate and other plants are clearly struggling. Unfortunately some of the most successful plants are the type of dull, evergreen shrub that is found filling in the background of parks across Paris and beyond. This park is something out of the ordinary. It seems a shame to fill such precious space with plants that offer little visual interest or wildlife benefit.
It looks as though the managers of the park are trying out new ideas and simplifying the planting in some areas. Orange and yellow flowered day lilies (Hemerocallis), thriving along one stretch of the promenade, would look good in larger quantity. Alongside the pools the long borders have been sown with a mix of wildflowers and garden annuals. This has worked well in sunnier patches and the brightly coloured flowers are attracting several species of bumblebees as well as honey bees and hoverflies.
The Promenade Plantée was a trail blazing development. In planning its renovation, today’s managers may benefit from the experience of some of the later projects this park inspired.