On a grey March day the brightly varnished, wooden plant boxes stand out against the muted tones of the buildings. The plants themselves are less conspicuous than the boxes at this season but there are plenty of green shoots and a scattering of bright yellow daffodils. I must remember to go back to Rue de Citeaux later in the year to see how the plants are coming on.
The mairie of the 12th was one of the first to take up the city’s pledge of funding and support for a rue végétale (or green street) in each arrondissement. Rue de Citeaux was chosen in a community consultation in September 2015 (on the town hall website, rather than in the street) and the plant boxes were installed in December of that year, along with traffic calming measures and seats. Signs at either end invite residents to make themselves at home and to start gardening in the street, after first applying for a permis de végétalisation. In November 2016 the city website reported that the first permits had been issued to some residents and local shopkeepers, suggesting that there are still quite a few boxes waiting for adoption.
The groups of linked plant boxes and seats, lined out along the 250 meter roadway, are well thought out, though a little insubstantial. Some include steel supports for climbing plants that make interesting features in the winter too. In a few places tarmac has been replaced by reclaimed stone paving setts, laid with wide joints in which grass seed has been sown. Sadly these installations don’t relate to each other or to the surrounding buildings in a very coherent way and emphasise just how much tarmac there still is in the now traffic free street.
I hope the residents of Rue de Citeaux are enjoying the opportunity to garden in the street and to get to know some of their like minded neighbours. When the boxes are filled with well grown plants they’ll certainly make the street greener but this rue végétale lacks one essential ingredient. Where are the trees?
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