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Blog Stop Gap: 10 June ‘13 The great thing about tending to ones blog is that weeds don’t  grow, there’s no dead heads to cut and generally time stands still. But sorry. There has been much to write and it hasn’t been written yet, The cross-Europe sunflower planting with Lyla from Cologne  to the Amalfi coast, joining Italian guerrilla gardeners in Bologna for a mass planting weekend and the tour with Fante di Fiori around Tending
tour with Fante di Fiori around
his village of Quarto Inferiore and his ingenious series of illustrated warning signs. Not forgetting a trip to Lublin in Poland where I met Warsaw guerrilla gardening bloggerThe guerrilla gardens of Westminster Bridge Road June 2013
Iga, who the following week came
for dinner in London to meet Munster guerrilla gardener Wilm who came bearing gifts of red cabbage, which we planted out.
These adventures will be blogged here in due course, but were you to visit the Elephant and Castle you would see what has been keeping me busy. The pimped pavements, guerrilla traffic islands and roadside verges are  without any doubt looking their  best ever, and with the pride and confidence that they indue I’ve  been on the offensive against the frustrations of Southwark Council, as you will learn from this video.
Daddy, what did you do on International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day?  1 May 2013 International  Sunflower  Guerrilla  Gardening  Day Nearly 2,000 people committed to plant sunflowers beyond their boundaries on 1 May 2013 and some got going even before the day. Please share photos and tales of what you did on the Facebook event  page for this occasion and we’ll compile them into a record of the day as the battle for their survival to full maturity this summer begins. And if you  didn’t get round to doing it, well try something else now and join in anyway. We’re guerrillas, there are  no rules. One renegade at the Elephant and Castle went out sowing pumpkins on May 1 instead (yes  Andrew I’ve heard). And as for the southern half of  the world, well sunflowers never made sense anyway!
News: Elephant & Castle, May ‘13 It’s the second year of the Chelsea
ringe festival across London and beyond. Once again I’ll be leading a guided walk around a network of guerrilla gardens that I tend in my local area. Also during the Mobile GardenersRiver of FlowersChelseaFringe
fringe I’ll be launching the River  of Flowers at Elephant and Castle, part of a wider project that seeks to create and strengthen nature friendly corridors through cities and beyond. I’ve mapped a route from Lambeth North to Burgess Park. In the emerging funky space of the Mobile Gardeners’ Park we’ll be celebrating this river with music, food and talks on SundayElephaht and Castle's River of Flowers River Launch Party with Music Food Talks 19 May 2013 Mobile Gardeners Park
19 May. Come along and join in.
Location: Auckland, New Zealand Guerrilla Gardening: 4 April ‘13 Auckland is growing. It’s already a huge sprawl, now it’s growing up in high-rise, and the population is forecast to rise by 25% in 25 years. That’s a ripe mix of factors for the rise of guerrilla gardening, and soGG NZ
it was that the British Council
dispatched me on a long haul mission to set kiwis on a course of constructive disobedience, (well  sort of, I think it was disguised as an art project). The Biz Dojo  hosted a talk but the main action was a guerrilla gardening dig on  a very nasty scrappy bit of land in Liverpool Street that seemed to be left over from one of the new high-rise developments. It was a  lot bleaker than I’d usually dare trying to resuscitate, but the keen local troops relished the chance toOur little guerrilla garden on a scrap of private waste ground in Auckland. The morning after planing
bring some striking contrast. So after the wonder of a visiting  my first southern hemisphere garden centre we set about digging in perennial sunflowers, hibiscus, lettuces, cabbages and lots of snap dragon, all with the helpful illumination of a TV crew from New Zealand’s version of  the BBC One Show (which is one bit of UK culture NZ misses out on unlike most of their  imported media). National radio,
tick, national press tick, I made the most of being there and getting the message out there, but travel is a chance to make face to face connections and take back inspiration too. I visited two  primary schools to see how gardening has become a pervasive influence throughout their campus, not just a dirty corner of the playground as it was in my day (though that was much
better than nothing. Garden To Table's focus is on ediblesbut it was much more than this, as
beds at Owairaka. And finally,travel is a chance to find established guerrilla gardens and their
gardeners. Woody’s patch is at the base of a multi-storey carpark next to Victoria Park running  for about thirty metres along the edge of the pavement as well as raised beds around the street  trees. Amongst the riot of colour were green tomatoes and a donations box, into which I stuffed some dollars and a note inviting Woody to get in touch, which he did, though time didn’t  unfortunately enable us to meet. Thanks to Gareth, Laila, Jacob and Isobel all made me so welcome.
Woody's guerrilla garden on Auckland
Location: St George’s Rd SE1 Guerrilla Gardening: 2 March A frenzy of bulb planting last autumn in tree pits around  Elephant & Castle is at last heralding spring, with yellow crocus there first. Proud of the pretty display I was boldly out in sunshine titivating tree pits with a little top dressing and a hair cut for the festuca and met fellow local guerrilla Beverly out doing exactly the same to her tree pit. Here’s the one  outside a local school, next to a new crash barrier - a very welcome pavement sprouting at a time when TfL have been recklessly removing too  many for urban beautification.Beacons of Spring. Guerrilla gardening opposite the Imperial War Museum
Guerrilla Grime Busting
Krista and her daughter Martha sponging down the colourful tiles  in the Elephant and Castle pedestrian subways, campaigning to save this exclusive pedestrian space from demolition. Photography by Mike Kear (www.mikekear.com)
Location: Subway 8 under the Elephant and Castle Roundabout, London SE1 Guerrilla Grime Busting: 2 and 3 February 2013 Regular guerrilla gardening opens your eyes to the potential in neglected public space beyond what can even be cultivated. You see beyond the grime, the potential feeling of anxiety and the stigma that these places can develop. Pretty much on my doorstep is a space designed in 1958 exclusively for pedestrians to cross the busy intersection of five major roads without disruption or risk of collision. But the seven subways have become dilapidated, unloved by both Transport  for London and Southwark Council with signage that is woefully inaccurate and disorientating.
Ten years ago there were plansto replace the roundabout with a small road network for 30%
less traffic and a far larger  pedestrian realm. But these plans have been scrapped and all that  remains of them is the intention to destroy the subways. Why?  Well it’s image. A FOI request revealed Southwark Council’s main reason is to change the  image of the area not the way it works. There is a fashionable  assumption that surface level crossings are the only civilised
option in the 21st century,  even if that means waiting by the side of busy roads for a few  seconds to cross, or chancing  your luck and ignoring the little red man warning you to stay  put. So I’ve gone into battle  to improve not destroy this  precious space. Late last year my wife and I created a campaign to Save Our Subways. We have distributed our new accurateCleaning the Elephant and Castle Subways
campaign videos, organised tours of the murals and with the ingenious #wewillgather gotRebecca Davies sponging
local people together to help  clean one of the subways. A  local mum who fears another death from a runaway child at the busy roadside brought her  four year old to help. Martha enthusiastically pointed out how grotty one of the metal cupboard doors was. It needed a good coat of paint. “Green,” she requested (a gardener at heart I think or a Shakin’ Stevens fan), so the next day I returned  the next evening to give it its  first new coat in a long time.Me and David mopping the toles. They date from an early 1990s renovation and were designed by students of the London College of Communication
Before, During and After painting the grotty metal door (Arsenic Green by Farrow and Ball)
News: Liberty of London launch guerrilla gardening inspired fabrics. Date: January 2013 This lawn isn’t grass. Tana Lawn is the name of a very fine cotton fabric made by Liberty. For  over a hundred years they have designed printed fabrics, most famously florals. In summer 2011 they made an enquiry, keen to visit me on their tour of the UK from which they were seeking
inspiration for their Spring Summer 2013 fabrics collected under the title of ‘Flower Show’. Lyla
and I took four designers on a walking tour of the Elephant and Castle guerrilla gardens, told them tales of our lavender harvest, sunflower planting and the Elephant and Castle Urban Forest.  Many months later four designs were unveiled, each in four different colourways, inspired by their visit. We were given several metres last spring which we used our wedding dressing the
bridesmaids, flower girls and the lining of my suit by local tailorGeorge Dyer. We have also
bought fabric to make into our current crop of lavender pillowshttp://www.guerrillagardening.org/shop.html
Castille, Elephant and Castle Urban Forest, Joan Larke Guerrilla Lavender and May Rose
Castille Joan Larke May Rose. Three more fabrics inspired by guerrilla gardening and designed by Liberty of London
Location: London Road SE1 Guerrilla Gardening: 21 Dec With the end of the world due we’d hedged our bets and made edible Christmas decorations.  But with no need to eat our precious rations Lyla and I set out to decorate the trees along London Road and our four year old guerrilla Christmas that’s been doing very well at St George’s  Circus. (The glazed centre is  made by putting crushed boiled sweets into a hole at the centre before it’s baked).Will they shine there until Christmas or get eaten?Christmas biscuits
Guerrilla Christmas Tree St George's Circus 2012Biscuits hanging from trees in London Road Elephant and Castle SE1
Raising The Game. Guerrilla Gardening in Elephant and Castle
Location: London Road and St George’s Road, Elephant & Castle, London SE1 Guerrilla Gardening: Late October to late November 2012 It’s been an industrious autumn, gardening has become engineering, as three of us have upgraded 11 guerrilla gardens in the local area. The upgrade is all part of the game one plays when planting in the pavement, the battle with pedestrians and their four legged friends. How do you deter them  from trampling your vulnerable little gardens without undermining one of the big reasons for pimping pavements in the first place: to enhance the environment? Barbed wire, warning signs, big barriers.
These don’t appeal. My aim in  this game is to deter the damage  from being done instinctively. Last  year I blogged about the use of  fedges - willow fences that grow  into hedges. They were easy to  install and created a lively green  barrier. But nature tries hard to  make the willow grow upwards,  so we were forever having to poke in willow that had pinged out  back into the ground. Despite this in 2012 we grew a fantastic  display of daffodils and tulips followed by sweet peas from  seed which clambered up the Sweet peas and mint thrive in guerrilla gardens 3 July 2012
wire tree cages and had a good bed of mint at their feet. I met some people who harvested the mint (despite the grotty location). But even without the picking this glorious display is shortlived. With  autumn the fedge becomes less hedge and more fence in a slow, shabby way. The mint also sheds its leaves. The tree pits became a mess magnet. So the answer we’ve tried is significant re-engineering. We have raised the beds with scaffold plank edging to present a perennially more purposeful garden.  And in doing so provided the plants with a foot more soil in which to grow. It just requires a  significant slog to start with, particularly adding the extra soil, even more so if you’re taking on eleven! The nine beds along London Road are now planted with Sweet William, Shasta Daisy “Real Galaxy”, Lavender, Daffodils “Barrat Browning”, Tulips “Queen of Night” Geranium and Salvia “Sensation Rose.” This just looks like unremarkable low green foliage in December, but it’s sufficient to signal “this is a garden, keep off” without saying so explicitly. Only a few foot prints have appeared in them in the month since they were built, so all bodes well for a pretty flamboyant spring and summer 2013 if you’re walking around the Elephant & Castle.
Guerilla gardening in raised beds along London Road recycling soil salvaged from the soon to be demolished Heygate Estate
15 October 2012 We raise Beverley’s bed around the sunflowers and add winter pansies, daffodils, crocus and heuchera on St George’s Road
Sweet Williams and more. November 2012
Location: Venice, Italy Guerrilla Gardening: 21 October This time my trowel the security people conviscated my trowel at Gatwick Airport. But thankfully the purpose of this flight was to give a lecture, short haul tulip planting would be a bonus. The  invite was from Maurizio CorradoGuerrilla Biennale
at Nemeton Magazine to speak at
Milan Made Expo. Terra di Nettuno
were there in the crowd, guerrilla gardeners from Bologna, so I spontaneously handed Andrea the stage the  mic to talk about their projects. Onto Venice where I came to  see the showcase of guerrilla
Gatwick Airport staff conviscate my trowel.The 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale was curated by David Chipperfield with the theme of Common Ground
Richard Reynolds and guerrilla gardeners of Bologna
gardening and many other grass roots initiative’s at the 13th Architecture Biennale. They were mostly concentrated within the USA’s pavillion where Spontaneous Interventions  were presented in a context of historical urban and political developments. Despite the  largely American content they used an image of ours guerrilla gardening in London to illustrate the movement. As darkness fell, Lyla and I overcame our lack of a trowel and Venice’s lack of much open ground, and found a tree pit in which to plant a handful of Queen of Night tulips. Spontaneous Interventions
Guerilla gardening in the USA pavillion, Venice.Lyla planting tulips in a large Venetian tree pit. Guerilla Gardening Italy
News: 5 October 2012 In my 2008 book I wrote about the inspirational Highline in NewA Highline For
York, a wild place within a dense urban environment which shows the power of nature to transform and inspire the creation of great public spaces. Since then it has  become a celebrated linear parkLondon: The Fleet River Channel A Shortlisted Proposal
and inspired a competition in my
home city for a radical piece of new green infrastructure. Anyone was invited to submit a 250 word proposal and A1 vision. So I had  a go with a proposal to unearth the lost River Fleet in low-line linear park inspired by seeing the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul, but with a planting aesthetic and execution taken from guerrilla  gardeners. Of 170 entries it was one of 20 shortlisted, the only by an unqualified architectural professional, which just goes to  remind all of us enthusiastic amateurs how our good ideas can hold their own amongst those seeped in convention. The winner, Fletcher Priest, proposed filling  disused postage tunnels with a
walkway and mushrooms - but  then again, the brief didn’t requireDownload the Fleet River Channel proposal
The shortlisted designs are on show at The Garden Museum and all entries will soon be visible online.Read Stephen Bayley's article in The Telegraph
Location: Around Graz, Austria Guerrilla Gardening: 23 Sept ‘12 Guerrilla gardening missions have taken me to Vienna and Linz but until now never to Austria’s second city. The invite came from the  Truth Is Concrete, a marathon Concrete In Austria
24/7 ‘camp’ on artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art. Artists from around the  world gathered to share tactics, inspire and perhaps even make some work in a city that recently introduced regulations limiting music in the streets and banned having a telephone conversation on a tram! The visit was also a  reunion for me with guerrilla gardener Paul Harfleet, who readers of this blog will recall I last met when helping plant
his award winning garden at Hampton Court. Paul has beenPansies palnted around Graz to mark acts of homophobic abuse by Paul Harfleet of The Pansy Project
guerrilla gardening with pansies for seven years, planting them in public places to mark acts of homophobic abuse and  discrimination. It’s called The Pansy Project and Paul travels the world planting the message. So I packed my trowel and  joined him to document an afternoon mission around  Graz joined by other artists and guests of the festival one of whom also planted a pansy.
The tray of pansies in front of the Blog HousePaul documents each pansy after planting

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