Saturday, 25 October 2014

Southern Cross


With the tireless aid of Jan van Duppen (who also shot these photos), I went back to the New Cross pits to see what survived the heat, vandals, the sunflower domination and, again as it turns out, the over-enthusiasm of some of the sunflower volunteers, and also to plant some more perennials. I thought we were going to coincide with the sunflower team harvesting seeds for next year but they got there before us and stripped out the tatty dying plants. So, while Jan was fascinated with the degree of rubbish left in these pits (chicken bones, bottles, cans, plastic, pens...), I could tell they had actually been cleaned up and this was light traffic! 


So after several bags of rubbish removal, we tidied up the insanely congested iris rhizomes (I would still love to chop these up and redistribute them...) and planted anew. Rosemary, Leucanthem (shasta daisy), Verbena Bonariensis and Japanese Anemone went in. I hope they stay... This was the spot where I planted wild carrots (which were doing great until the Sunflowers drowned them out) and an Aquilegia (hopefully that seeded before equally losing out to the yellow forest. The new plants are all tough, invasive and nectar rich - ideal for this location. 

You can see in the corner of these two pits two of the Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) that I planted with Rosie (out of about 8 that went in). Fingers crossed they make it too...


This pit is also the former scene of the Teasel that got yanked out and dropped by some idiot, twice. But the Hardy Geranium is surviving - there were also some Crocosmia here and Rudbeckia (which may have been 'weeded out by team sunflower...).

Ending on a slightly more positive note, here are the survivors in the biggest pit:
an Acanthus, a Hollyhock, a Hardy Geranium (donated by @LewishamGardens) and some emerging shoots of an Arum Lily. The alchemilla and dogwood that @LewishamGardens also supplied did not survive the heat/sunflower domination. There were 2 other Acanthus planted that had come back from previous over-zealous weeding but hopefully this one is sufficiently large not to be misrecognised.

Parting tips today:

when guerrilla gardening you can be more weed tolerant than in a private garden!

Why?:
  • 'weeds' may be planted by someone else...
  • only the super-invasive matting weeds are a problem, mostly other plants are green and have flowers and thus nectar. In the case of nectar-filled dandelions they help break up the soil too...


Hardcore

Happened to be walking past the beds next to the former Job Centre on Camberwell Green and snapped the progress of these totally untended plants. I havent touched them for at least a year, nice to see several spikes of Hollyhocks and the skeletal frame of a Teasel (which means it will have seeded). Its still an extended rubbish dump but at least these guys made it through - transplanted from Dog Kennel Hill.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Hot bed

When I was a child growing up in Sussex we spent all 'summer' hoping that at some point the temperatures would hit 70 degrees, ideally coinciding with a weeks holiday in Cornwall. It rarely did (apart from in 1976).  This is the second year in a row my patch has fried due to No Rain. Yes, ironically I am writing this after the weather has broken and we have had quite a bit of rain for a day, off the back of Hurricane Bertha. But the point remains. No rain in June, hardly any in July. Deep fried guerrilla gardens... And so it was that like last summer I met up with a lovely young man for a GG interview, this time Jan van Duppen who is studying at the OU and in exchange - tho' he needed little encouragement - we went to Dog Kennel Hill and chopped down 3 bags of dried out Hollyhocks, Michaelmas daisies and most of it really.
pre-trim (all Jan Van Duppen's photos)

I did have 2 new shorter type Verbenas and 2 experimental Cleomes, a foxglove and a couple of Lychnis to go in, but to see any improvement we need more of the wet stuff. We left a few of the teasels standing for structure (and they may still have seeds in the flower heads, which birds like to eat). On the day we two blondes needed to be rescued by my partner armed with suncream and bottled water. It was filthy hot work. Jan seemed to attract a doubting Thomas who was apparently asking who we were, implying we had no authority to be doing such things, which was true. Sadly he didnt feel strongly enough to come closer to actually have a real conversation about it, which I would have enjoyed.


Here's the short Verbena.

and here's the fennel...


I returned yesterday and cleared up 2 bags more and added in 2 more foxgloves, 1 more Lychnis and 2 Alchemilla. 3 people thanked me from their cars which was nice. Lots of the Ox-eye daisies are growing back, and the bedded-in fennel and irises have all coped very well, but otherwise it is pretty barren. Like last year I know it will green over in a lovely lush way within about a month (assuming more rain - difficult to assume!). If not this spot will be getting some Agave Americana and be renamed California.


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Cross Fire

Today I met a woman previously encountered only as @LewishamGardens who - I really dont quite understand this - is involved with the Chelsea Flower Show, or maybe a Fringe event and consequently has access to a load of plants afterwards to be re-distributed to Good Causes. She offered me plants. I said yes. It was also another chance to thin out the Agave jungle from my parents garden, so she got 4 Agaves for her thought. Chauffeured by J, we also picked up someone who is connected to Cafe Crema in New Cross getting plants for the little oasis that now flourishes in the cafe's back garden. After the torrential rain turned to drizzle we set out. Picking up K from CC and her 9 yr old son we arrived at St Mungo's, got thru the gates, got out of the car only to have A yell "Hide the Child!" Wow, I thought, she is worse than me. That is out there child-phobia... However it transpired that St Mungo's is a hostel for homeless people and they have regs barring children from the premises[!]. Securing T in the car, K and I then basically crammed in as many plants as we could... Should of hired a van...

After redelivering K, T and plants to their place, we went off to New Cross where my accomplice Wood met me trowel in hand and there we planted, hoping that no more drunks randomly pull stuff out, nor no more unknowing volunteers 'weed' out my plants in the interest of the wonderful yet one-season-only sunflower... Ahem. It was also yet another day in which we should have been secretly filming the response. This time a woman came up and demanded plant advice - going home AND returning with her floppy Calla Lily. I did tell her that while I was admittedly a great gardener I had killed 3 Callas previously as they are fussy buggers and not at all like Arum Lillies despite the resemblance. She would not go. We decided she had to repot and I gave her a pot from the St Mungo's hoard. We then had to dissuade her from taking soil from the raised beds for the purpose!

I might add to this a bit more, but for now some pics (terrible old Nokia - will try and reshoot with an actual camera...).

The Big Bed. Added in today: 1 x Cornus, 1 x Hardy Geranium, 2 x Alchemilla from St Mungo's, plus 1 x Arum Lily from my parents' bottomless pit of them. Previously I put in an Acanthus which is hanging on...




The other side of the big bed. Scene of the 'weeding' out of my 6 foxgloves, fennel and maybe the Acanthus - I hope it re-emerges.... Added in today 1 x dark leaved invasive violet thingy, 2 x Alchemilla and 1 Aquilegia. You can see Sunflowers that the Artmongers team planted there too - and loads of seedlings.



I dont know what I put in here today (second bed). Small grassy looking plants with little white flowers. Began the long task of tidying up the massively congested irises by chopping down the foliage (and thus putting all the energy into the exhausted rhizomes).

And the same pit here with the Aquilegia I planted a few weeks ago.


A quick visual of the other pits there (yes there are 5, its substantial). The most successful - so far with the pink foxgloves visible, also has 5 plants donated by my mum's neighbour that are some kind of wild carrot. The other one shows a very weak Acanthus above ground, but with a deep green shoot coming thru I think the roots are developing. There are loads of sunflower seedling here too.

 

This one has some Echinops thistles and a Verbena Bonariensis and foxgloves, struggling along. Oddly the echinops had a bit of an ant invasion. 








Thursday, 10 April 2014

poker face

planted  donated by Rosie in + some rudbeckia rhizomes... and an ... if no-one nicks it more to follow and pix to follow and updates on the GLORY that is Dog Kennel Hill to follow...

well a couple of weeks later and so far so good. So with the aid of converted colleagues Wood and Ayesha I added in 1 more Acanthus, 2 Aquilegia, 1 more Echinops and a Vinca. Next week Rosie and I are returning with the amazing California Poppy and Nasturtium seeds.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Becoming Cloudy

You might have to subscribe to Soundcloud to hear this:

https://soundcloud.com/uncuttalks/dr-lynn-turner-on-guerrilla

Its an interview with me about Guerrilla Gardening. The interviewer is Ed Sanderson for the Uncut Talks series he organises for a Chinese sound art journal.

"the city needs to breathe differently"

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Troop recruitment

  
For all those interested in helping out or developing your own guerrilla team. This is the main patch I have been working on, now fully recovered from the summer's drought and beautifully green, if full of weeds. The pics are from October. It runs up Dog Kennel Hill adjacent to Sainsburys in East Dulwich. In the middle of a busy road with Night Bus traffic and getting full sunshine, it is a warm patch that can protect vulnerable plants in winter but also seriously dries out and the soil quality is pretty dire. Hence the plants that the council apparently once planted here mostly died and now they only properly manage about 4 long rectangles of land with seasonal bedding (the kind of stuff that is colourful year-round but is nectar-lite and utterly pointless if you are an insect or a bird). The stuff I plant must be tough, ideally self-seeding (e.g. California Poppies) or invasive (e.g. Euphorbia) in ordinary gardens and have flowers that contain pollen. I am much more weed tolerant here - unless it is smothering other plants I let them be (things like dandelions are full of pollen anyway). I haven't planted any veg because of the quality of the soil - it would need serious improvement (bags of compost dug in), and due to the time available I have to tend it. However Giovanni (from Antennae) has given me a wonderful artichoke and I do want to try that in this patch (they always succumb to snails in my garden - but this dry patch is virtually mollusc free).
  
My ambition for Dog Kennel Hill is to plant the entire strip that the council neglect - about 3/5ths done! I have a whole load of plants waiting to get planted here so any help would be grand. I can supply a few extra pairs of gloves and waste bags, though I only have one trowel now (unless anyone wants to wield a spade...).

I've also started adding stuff in to the raised pits near the bus stops near Reyna restaurant in New Cross Road, so very near Goldsmiths, piggy-backing on the stupendous sunflower project run by New-Xing and Artmongers. This is necessary - I hate empty/neglected plant pits plus the bee crisis continues unabated, but it is more vulnerable to theft and damage than DKH. Hence I'm thinking thistle type plants like Echinops and teasels.

Future-wise, everytime I go past Peckham Fire Station on the 171 or 436 I look at the 5 or so concrete planters outside it that are empty! I'd love to plant stuff there - like some of the Hollyhocks that selfseed wildly on DKH. That would need some donated compost however, and probably someone with a car!

As long as the ground is not frozen or covered in snow, we can still plant...