Archive for the ‘Grow Your Own’ Category
Sunday, March 17th, 2013
The other evening I set myself a mini-growing project – to create a miniature garden only using what I had to hand: a small wooden picture frame and an old cough lozenge tin.
I firstly superglued the lozenge tin to the photo frame and secured them together, they became the main structure of my tiny garden.
I picked my favourite dark teal paint colour and painted the little structure. After waiting half an hour for them to dry, I placed some gravel in the bottom of the tin for drainage and then picked a few cuttings to plant. After arranging the cuttings to just how I wanted I covered them with a layer of moss, et voila! I had created my new miniature garden!
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Over the past few months we have featured guerrilla gardening plenty of times on the blog, and the different ways it is realised in growing projects across cities. We are huge advocates of the movement and the desire to make cities more liveable with more greenery and re-claimed waste ground. We were absolutely delighted when the pioneering founder of the movement, the original guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds joined us for an interview. Richard started his online blog in 2004 as way of recording his illicit cultivation across London, it has now grown into a blossoming community of guerrilla gardeners who share their tales of waste grounds, public space and all things green. It’s a brilliant working forum, and brings to attention many urban concerns about the lack of green space and council often un-willingness to take charge.
What was it that inspired you to start?
Imagining the opportunity in the very visibly neglected landscape that confronted me every time I entered my tower block. To some this blight would have been invisible or perhaps subliminal, to me it was an afront, a depressing insult of neglect from Southwark Council and from other residents. This wasn’t something to complain about but an exciting opportunity, a canvas on which I could once again become a gardener, something I’d missed since living in London and never having had much more than windowsills.
Where have you travelled, and what foreign gardening projects have inspired you?
I’ve travelled a great deal spreading the guerrilla gardening message and meeting other guerrilla gardeners. This has been a wonderful and unexpected side effect of blogging and writing about my activities and the loose global movement. My full travels are listed here. In terms of what’s inspired me: well of course the mature community gardens in New York, where the term guerilla gardening was coined in the early 1970s. The fact they’ve survived, grown, been endorsed and remain in a context that’s under very different pressures to what was there when they emerged – i.e. land values and development pressure vs urban flight and dereliction. Also the diversity and fun of tree pit planting in Berlin, where some even incorporate seating and murals and sculptures, all very informal stuff. I’ve recently returned from Milan where I met a 1 year old group of enthusiastic guerrilla gardeners from Bologna who attended my lecture. They’re called Terra di Nettuno and really get it.
New York City Guerrilla Gardens, 1970′s and today.
What’s been your highlight so far?
Meeting my wife guerrilla gardening. We were weeding and planting tulips 6 years ago this autumn and got married in June.
Have you encountered any resistance to guerilla gardening projects?
Yes. Some of it has been based on misunderstanding our motives or actions. For example the gardening establishment, the likes of Monty Don, Bunny Guiness, they are publicly negative, dismissive and personally aggressive towards my actions, but their reasoning is founded on ignorance or intentional misinformation. This was quite disappointing at first, but I’m resigned to the fact that they live in a gilded ivory tower, where as I live in a concrete one. Some locally authorities have got excited about how they might channel the enthusiasm, Lambeth get it now. My local authority in Southwark have been negative and unconstructive, in fact they even destroyed the one area of street gardening where I’d done it with permission, where it wasn’t a guerrilla garden. But I’m trying to turn this into an opportunity to change their mindset, for it to be a wake up call. I think I’m getting somewhere. Tomorrow morning the leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John, will be paying me a visit. It’s taken 8 years of guerrilla gardening and two years of requesting this meeting to get to this point. I want them to help facilitate roadside planting as their neighbours in Lambeth Council now do.
What are your tips for novice guerilla gardeners?
Be prepared to do it solo. Start small and very local to where you live. If you don’t succeed try again. Read the landscape, work out what the pressures on your patch might be. Now is a good time to do some, plant some bulbs, and use the success to encourage you to do more and get help.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’ve just been to New Covent Garden market to stock up on more daffodils, two big boxes of Narcissus Barrett Browning. I’m ‘upgrading’ 10 of the tree pits in London Road which I first planted last summer. The upgrade involves building a scaffold plank high raised bed around the trees, protecting the tree trunks and filling with soil. It’s quite a lot of work but it makes the tree pits easier to tend and much less vulnerable to trampling. It also looks pretty smart. Most of the wood is reclaimed off the street abandoned by construction work. Thankfully there’s lots of construction work around Elephant and Castle.
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
Napa Valley is one of our favourite spots – good wine, great food and lovely gardens. Sonoma County is its lesser know sibling and is just next to Napa. Whilst the majority of wine-tasters and tourists head to Napa, Sonoma is putting itself on the map with delicious wineries and new restaurants. Medlock Ames in Healdsburg, part of the beautiful Alexander Valley is a wonderful find. The vineyard sits in the heart of rolling country surrounded by hills and beautiful views across the wine county.
The vineyard was opened in 1998 by good friends Chris James and Ames Morison, their want was to open a wine-producing estate that didn’t rely on insecticides, chemical fertilisers or herbicides. Instead all of the farming is organic, solar power provides all the energy needed to run the estate and only 56 of the 375 acres are farmed, the majority of land is left in a natural state. They keep the remaining ground for oaks and wildflowers to grow naturally. Chris and Ames have been keen to retain traditional methods, the property is self-sufficient, too, with five ponds for collecting rainwater, and a huge vegetable garden that produces many staff lunches. The winery building is essentially self-sustaining, with thick stone walls to maintain a cool cellar temperature and lots of windows to let in natural light. The structure is built on several levels, which permits the winemaker to move juice using gravity rather than pumps, a gentle method that prevents bitter flavors from developing. The portfolio includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, a Red Bordeaux Blend, estate bottled olive oil, verjus and preserves.
Image: Food and Wine
We were particularly excited to hear more about their tasting room – which turns into a busy cocktail bar in the evening. There’s an eclectic cocktail menu that, more often than not, uses the fresh ingredients direct from the garden. The cocktails are all inspired by the plants – customers can choose from ginger thyme martinis, spicy margaritas using pepper and fresh coriander or borage cocktails.
If you’re in that neck of the woods – we would recommend a visit and be sure to tell us what you think!
Saturday, July 28th, 2012
Pam Warhurst and Mary Clear were two good friends living in the pretty market town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire, they were both green-fingered and shared a love for home-grown fruit and veg. In the Spring of 2008 they began planting vegetables in different dis-used green spots around the town. They started with a patch of rhubarb beside a local bus stop, and as their enthusiasm grew they spotted other potential growing patches in graveyards, roundabouts and pavements. Determined to get more people involved, they placed an advert in the local paper calling all of those ‘interested in growing local food and sharing land’ to attend a meeting. Brilliantly, 60 people arrived at the meeting keen to roll their sleeves up and start growing. The ball started rolling, and since then the whole town have got on board including the council who have allowed them extra funding. Now every school in Todmarden takes part in the scheme, and the locals have planted a town orchard.
Todmarden are determined to become a self-sufficient town relying on produce grown within the town, they’ve extended it now to include eggs as well creating a town map pinpointing poultry keepers who sell their surplus eggs when available. They’ve replaces ornamental trees with edibles, and they planted a medicinal herb garden. A local care home for the elderly allowed their raised beds to be used for community growing and permitted ‘healing horticulture’ – working with people with long-term mental health problems to grow there as part of their therapy. And Pennine Housing, the local registered social landlord, provided tenants with land to grow food and offered gardening packs, including plants, seeds and grow sacks to encourage tenants to grow their own.
The Incredible Edible movement has inspired other communities across the country, another similar project has sprung up in Huddersfield. One of the founders in Huddersfield is Norah Hamill, she had been involved in the Todmorden project when she lived in the town and their ideal is simple, being that “The future can be incredible – and edible! We all have to eat and yet few of us grow our own food any more. But if we are to reduce food miles, minimise the impact of agriculture on the environment and save the planet then that will have to change”. Across Huddersfield edible planters line the streets and local businesses are heavily involved either sponsoring seeds or giving up their own green space for the project. We have featured guerrilla gardening and community projects before on the blog, and we think this is another brilliant, simple example of how gardening can really help to improve a community and bring it together. A green-fingered inspiration!
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Image: Roots and Shoots
We are really pleased that all the plants used for our Anthropologie window are being donated to Roots and Shoots a brilliant non-for-profit organisation based out of Lambeth in South London. Roots and Shoots provides vocational training for young people from the inner city, mainly from the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, they strive to equip young people from non-privileged background with vital the skills and self-confidence that will support them for work. Alongside courses in Maths, English and retail skills; Roots and Shoots is most famous for its horticultural training for young people. Following on from the collaboration with Anthropologie, we have decided to donate all the flowers and plants from the shop windows to the horticultural classes at Roots and Shoots.
Image: Roots and Shoots
Linda Phillips set up the charity was set up in 1982, to help young people from Lambeth and Southwark prepare for the world of work. Linda remains an active director to this day. Back in 1982, up to twenty 16-19 year olds who had difficulty coping in the traditional educational system spent a year learning with Roots and Shoots. The organisation has grown and grown since then.
Image: Roots and Shoots
Today, Roots and Shoots have a permanent training base on the site of an old meccanno factory in Kennington. It is a beacon for eco-living and bio-diversity, and was completed in 2005 and then officially opened in 2007 by HRH The Prince of Wales is the central hub of Roots and Shoots’ activities. It is clad in wood with sustainable energy and other environmental features.There is a large photovoltaic roof (solar electricity) which generates around 50% of energy, solar water heating, rainwater collection for the WCs and to water plants, along with built-in insect and bird boxes in the cladding.
Image: Roots and Shoots
The building is also an important focal point for the local community, and provides extra classes on urban biodiversity and is often visited by local school parties. Their garden is well-tended to and there are several beehives. It’s a very inspiring place, and we’re delighted to support their work this year.