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#RiotCleanUp with guerrilla gardeningLocation: Walworth Road, London SE17 Action: 9 August 2011 London has been struck by looters. Bored, greedy fools who feel they’re entitled to things for free. A bit like guerrilla gardeners then perhaps, taking land for free, making our mark, committing criminal damage (as some heavy handed police have called it) and rallying people with social media. The looting spree and arson made me pause a little for thought, but only for a second. It’s the  selfishness that’s at the heart of the action that is  so wrong and that the victims are people not just  the broken windows. I spotted a call on Twitter  for help in the #riotcleanup  and a meeting place a short walk from my home and rallied others to  join. The large guerrilla gardening trolley (GGT)  and my stash of thick gloves and brooms came  in handy as I found a crowd of 35 people keen  to help but short of equipment. We cleared away the debris from two shops before breaking for tea, exchanging contact details and talking to press
keen for good newsListen to my BBC interview
London Lavender FieldLocation: Westminster Bridge Road, London Guerrilla Gardening: Since March 2006 Our five year old lavender field in the centre of the dual carriageway near Lambeth North is in full bloom for the fifth year now. It’s endured a very dry spring, Rosemary beetle and some knock backs from road repairs but despite that passers by have told me it’s like stepping into Provence for the moments they pass by. Enjoy it now before we harvest it.
If you'd like to help with the harveste-mail me:
9 August 2011
The Hogarth MeadowMeadow Video
A traffic island at the edge of the Hogarth roundabout, west London, sown with marigolds, poppies, cornflowers and sunflowers. Photographed, 24 July 2011
Location: Hogarth Roundabout, West London  Guerrilla Gardening: Spring - Summer 2011 This magnificent flower meadow in the centre of a triple carriageway on London’s arterial A4 is the work of Troop 1198, Brita von
Schoenaichand friends. What you see swaying
in the breeze of passing traffic this year is  the result of a long fought guerrilla gardening campaign, living proof that the guerrilla  approach of doing it first, then dealing with the consequences of authority can pay off in the victory of the right to garden beyondUnusually mechanised guerrilla gardening by the Hogarth roundabout in  2006.
your boundaries. I have written before about the wild flower meadows Brita has sown  here, spectacles planted sporadically since  the mid 1990s but all ended in premature destruction by London’s transport authority,  who feared risks to health and safety despite Brita’s esteemed qualifications in landscape architecture and her calculation that plants  would not be any more obstruction to sight lines than the crash barrier. Until this year
her last meadow was in 2006. The memory lived on in the minds of locals and in the propaganda of my slide shows and book. The challenge was picked up this year by  the Old Chiswick Protection Society who  used their diplomatic prowess to negotiate a  peace agreement with Transport for London.  All Brita needed to do was have a health and safety training session to learn how to wear a high vis jacket and cross the road at a set of traffic lights. Easy. So the meadow you see  now is not a guerrilla garden but one that  exists because of guerrilla gardening. I hope it’s the start of many more legitimate wild flowerOne of the guerrilla flower meadows Brita planted in the last decade along the A4
meadows in our transport corridors. They  don’t just nourish our view but they provide a healthy avenue for wildlife to pass along. It’s not just that seeks
this vision forroadsides. River of Flowersseeks pollination corridors across
the UK and myPimp Your Pavementcampaign encourages the planting of our
pedestrian thoroughfares in this way at a micro scale.Here's how to make a meadow
Location: Union St & Globe St SE1 30 May, 12 June The medicinal power of plants are being celebrated this summer in Southwark. Taking inspiration from the pop up Urban Physic Garden we have spilled out from the exhibition space onto the pavements in Union St. There were 5  opportunities for pavement pimping in empty tree pits from which we removed 5 buckets of sand and poured in sacks of soil and compost.Pavement Medicine - Urban Physic Garden
Promoting the pimpingIn the midst of planting
Before pimping and after two weeksHelp came from a couple of locals who had spotted my poster, my cousin and his partner, and best of all three passers by who just couldn’t help themselves but stop and garden for half an hour or so. We planted a vaguely medicinal assortment of salvia, marigolds, lavender and cosmos. A more concertedly medicinal satellite of the Urban Physic Garden was planted a few weeks later on Globe Street where Amber 999 had spotted a huge bleak  tree pit just round the corner from where she lives. I came along with tools and some materials to help out, a supplementary boost to her plans, after she’d proved an eligble ‘patient’ by tending Clare 15,356’s tree pits  on Trinity St (who also joined in) and offering funding. Again, out came the sand and top layer of grot and in went bags of fresh soil. Our brazen day time planting, was without any inconvenient interuption, and proved once again that guerrilla gardening on pavements is the most sociable and welcoming of all forms, as quite a  gathering formed on this otherwise fairly empty street, even two little twins got their first taste of getting a little  muddy (and mixed up in mildly criminal activity).
The clean out beginsIn goes the fresh soil and a crowd gathers
Amber 999, Alice 122 and Clare 15,356 guerrilla gardeningThe Globe St Physic Garden
UPDATE 29 July: Several weeks after our guerrilla physic garden planting all the gardens are thriving. The sweat of clearing deep pits and importing good soil has paid off and the weather has been on our side. Little watering has been necessary, it’s just a matter of dead heading, weeding and removing those persistent cigarette butts on Union Street dropped by the  London Fire Brigade next door (smoke after all is their business). The Globe Street garden is particularly spectacular and I heard last night that it’s not just Amber harvesting but another local resident, Seeta, has also taken to trimming a bit of sage for her cooking. Victory.
Union Street Guerrilla Urban Physic Garden 12 July 2011Urban Guerrilla Physic Garden 27 July 2011
Location: RHS Chelsea Flower Show Visit: 22 May 2011 I’ve only ever seen the RHS Chelsea  Flower Show chaotically, normally after the guests have gone and the contrators come in to dismantle it, because that’s when there’s been a chance to salvage the waste. I evenChelsea Highs and Lows
built a recycled show feature from it
one year at Hampton Court. This  year the chaos was the frantic last minute finishing touches made by the designers in the closing hours  of Sunday’s preparation for the judging. I was dispatched by the Telegraph to reflect on the spectacle. And I came home with a little bit of Chelsea that’s now out in public.Spot the bit of Chelsea! The bright yellow paper daisy Xerochrysum bracteatum was a spare plant from the Jim Fogarty’s garden for the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
Read my highs and lows here
Location: Heygate Estate, London  and Ashton Moss, Manchester. Guerrilla Gardening: From April 11 The pressure of finding space to  grow food has been a reason to try guerrilla gardening for at least the last 360 years. When land sits idle, perhaps a stalled redevelopment or a once  cared for space now suffering from  cut backs, the itch and opportunity can be too great to pass. Two new  acts of guerrilla gardening in the UK reflect this. To the west of Manchester
at Ashton Moss guerrilla gardeners have begun cultivating land after
having lost patience with an old promise that it would become allotments after theirs had been  obliterated underneath a new motorway. The seasons don’t wait for bureaucrats to green light  them, so they’ve just got on with the gardening anyway. Closer to home, from just over the other  side of the Elephant & Castle to me local resident Adrian got in touch with me for advice. He’s  one the last remaining people living in almost entirely deserted Heygate Estate. It’s a set of
sprawling 1970s megastructures the recent backdrop to dystopian fictional dramas including  Harry Brown and Attack The Block. In reality it’s much more pleasant. The blocks almost  enclose a verdant landscape of mature trees, grassy knolls and little private gardens. It’s going  wild and I wandered around there last autumn taking cuttings from the remnants of people’s  back gardens, little pieces of local history due to be cleared away by the advancing higher  density development. As the council have retreated and provide only the very basic service  Adrian has advanced from his small garden into the communal space with the help of former  residents and interested activists. Back in April, after his first week of digging, he called by to  take a carload of seedlings from me, most of which I’d collected the day before from Maria in  Berkhamsted. A week later I called by to see what was going on and found a merry scattering  of enthusiasts divvying up the land into strips, circles and ribbons. And helped by Adrian’s  precious hose pipe, the seedlings looked well. Weeks passed and all seemed good, Adrain even
thought he had council support until last week he shared a letter with me he’d received from Southwark Council’s legal department. It was a thoroughly aggressive demand for him to stop  “unlawfall gardening” But he sought advice and with the help of the local newspaper the  council backed down on Thursday. They’ve not yet given him permission but they’ve seen  the sense in letting the land temporarily be used for allotments and are talking of importing  city farm experts. That sounds like a daft and costly idea to me, Southwark Council should just  let them get on with it. Back in Ashton Moss the situation is complicated because the land is in  private ownership but the promise of allotments was made by the council. I hope the guerrilla  gardeners’ action and interest in it gives strengthens their case for growing space. The action
makes it abundantly clear there’s demand. Find our more from Adrian’s Heygate website.
Elephant and Castle Urban ForestStrata tower above the forest
News 5 June ‘11: Since reporting on the allotments  I’ve discovered that there’s a lot more at risk from  the redevelopment. Incredibly more than half of the  mature forest is threatened with the chop despite their  precious value by so many measures (sadly neither  bullish Southwark Councils nor secretive Lend Lease  appreciate this). In response I have teamed up with  local resident Guy Mannes-Abbott and launched a  campaign to make the most of this space, to attract  people to use it and to help influence the developer’s  plans so they integrate as many of the trees as possible into their street plan. As neighbours to the metaphoricalJoin in guided walks, feasts,
forest that is the lavishly fundedBankside Urban Forest we areparkour and other events in the forest. Find out more here
Elephant and Castle Urban Forest. It must be London’s most secret woodland, but I encourage you to enjoy it.FacebookTwitter

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