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Nature in Our Alleys

One key premise of our concept of Biophilic Cities is that nature is (and ought to be) all around us, nearby and readily accessible. We should not have to make a long trip to enjoy birds, trees and greenery. It should be in our neighborhoods.

Increasingly cities are finding creative ways to transform leftover spaces, pulling up pavement and impermeable sidewalks and installing verdant gardens, planting on rooftops and building facades.

Alleys represent one interesting place to insert or re-grow nature, and several cities have made impressive strides here.

On a recent trip to Montreal in May to attend and speak at the “Urban Biodiversity: A Value to Appreciate” conference, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the ways in which  this city’s alleys have been lovingly greened, and that the city has supported these neighborhood projects in many ways.

Josée Duplessis, who sits on the Montreal City Council, and whose portfolio includes parks and green spaces, drew me quick maps of her favorite green alleys – one off of St. Urbain, the other off of Rue du Square St-Louis. They were hidden gems, with doorways and openings not easy to find. Read more at