Actress Joanna Lumley has brushed aside criticism of London’s £175 million Garden Bridge – saying plans for the horticultural river crossing are “coming along marvellously”.

Newspaper reports claimed the cost of the bridge could fund up to 30 new parks while some critics have branded the scheme a “vanity project” that could cost up to £3.5million per year to run.

Concerns have been raised that its dense planting could attract anti-social behaviour.

But Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna, who championed the bridge from the outset, dismissed media negativity.

Speaking exclusively to Amateur Gardening, Joanna said: “Something of this scale is bound to get criticism. That’s the way the world is. The newspapers are duty-bound to show the negative side.”

She added: “We did a poll and 87 per cent of Londoners can’t wait for it to start.”

The Garden Bridge has been designed by Dan Pearson, who won gold and best-in-show at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show [2015] for his Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden.

Free to cross, the foot bridge will be open from 6am to 12pm, linking Temple on the north bank of the Thames to an area between Blackfriars and Waterloo on the south.

Joanna went on: “The big copper dams will go into the Thames in spring next year
It will be completed in 2018.

“It’s a pedestrian bridge and will be in complete quietness and beauty. All the other bridges have got traffic and trains whizzing past, except for the Millennium Bridge which you race across.

“This will be a dawdling bridge with winding paths. You won’t be able to see from one side to the other because of the planting and way it winds around.

“It will bring peace and happiness to Londoners who cross the Thames every day.”

Planting on the bridge, by contractor Willerby Landscapes, will begin in November 2017.

The soil depth is expected to range from 16in (40cm) to 6.5ft (2m).