An island of paving between two back streets in the 3rd arrondissement, transformed by a small grove of horse chestnut trees.  In addition to the trees, this view has many of the essentials of an archetypal Paris street scene:  the café awnings, tables and chairs, the cast iron lamp posts, the slender iron bollards.  The monumental drinking water fountain (at the right of the picture) is a classic fontaine Wallace, named after the British philanthropist, Richard Wallace who financed their installation in the 1870s. The advertising column for shows and films is a colonne Morris, named after the printer Gabriel Morris who obtained a concession for street publicity in 1868.

I don’t know when the green shrub boxes became a feature of the Paris street scene.  Planted with well chosen, flowering shrubs, they can bring life and colour to a grey street where there’s no room for trees.  All too often a single, tough evergreen shrub-in-a-box lurks in a shady corner, adding little beauty to the street. Personally I feel they clutter this island without adding much benefit, but they may be intended to keep the café tables in their place.

Greening the street is a priority of the current city administration, enthusiastically supported by citizens in the budget participative.  Two hundred sites across the city, out of 1,500 proposed by local residents, were this year selected for végétalisation.   Sadly only twenty of those will have a new tree planted while at eighty sites the greening will depend on a shrub in a box.  (The rest of the 200 site total is made up of ground level flower beds, planting around existing trees and new green walls.)

Overall the city’s greening commitments for the 2014 to 2020 mandate are impressive:  30 hectares of additional public gardens, 100 hectares of végetalisation on walls and roofs, of which a third is to be dedicated to urban agriculture, 20,000 trees planted…..  The plans make interesting reading.  I look forward to the progress reports.