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We redesigned & planted the garden of Sir Robert McAlpine offices at Battersea Power Station, for the Phase 3 design by Foster & Partners.

The two key elements of this design were to:

  • create a low-maintenance planting that had to look its best the day after completion (early October)
  • design a green roof installation to represent the buildings being constructed by the client

It’s no mean feat to install plants that look their best at the start of October in a shady location, but the quality and care from Gedney Bulb company made this possible. We were also happy to use them because all their stock is English-grown, avoiding the carbon impact that many nurseries create by shipping plants in from the continent.

On the left is how the beds looked when we arrived, & the works were halted when we dug up an ancient electricity cable which nobody could locate on the site maps. On the right, is the finished product once the cable had been certified safe.

phase 3 design battersea power station robert McAlpine foster and partners

We were not at all sure that the sloping, green roof-style structure would retain soil or support healthy plant growth – and even more challenging was to represent this wiggly design in plants! But the growth over 6 weeks suggests that the collection of alpines, lavender, sedum, cyclamen & succulents which we chose have settled in well, with a rich but free-draining growing media being provided by Bourne Amenity.

green roof finished

green roof after 1 month






close up green roof succulents cyclamen
Sedum in bloom, surrounded by Cyclamen & the bright yellow of Lysimachia ‘Aurea’

Being October, it was hard to find moments when the sun caught the grasses and made them glow, as can be seen in this video.

Later on, the wind was still blowing but the sun had abandoned us!

The Stipa tenuissima acts as the spine, unifying the strangely-shaped bed and ensuring visual harmony when viewed from every side. It also acts to hide the often unsightly ankles of flowers whose beauty is displayed higher up, such as the Salvia ‘Love & Wishes’ and the Aster ‘Lady in Blue’ (which was just about to pop into bloom when we planted it!) Another star when combined with Stipa is the Gaura lindheimeri, whose star-like flowers seem to float in a sea of glowing feathers.

Aster Lady in Blue Battersea Power Station Phase 3

In addition to the evergreen Stipa, year-round interest & structure is provided by the glowing silver of Euphorbia ‘Glacier Blue’ & the bright yellow of Carex ‘Evergold’.

planting at Phase 3We don’t normally ‘do’ yellow, but the Coreposis were at their best, & set off the purple Salvias perfectly. In the background you can see the striking scarlet red of Lobelia ‘Fan Scarlet’.

battersea power station planting phase 3 robert mcalpine

And they couldn’t help calling us back to install a huge 14ft Christmas tree!

xmas tree robert McAlpine christmas

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