Wednesday 27 July 2011

Guerrilla gardening in Deptford

Anyone living on the Evelyn estate in Deptford will probably recognise this depressing flower bed, which sits in the middle of the gyratory halfway along Edward Street. It's home to a few oversize trees and some grubby rose bushes that burst into flower once a year and are stagnant the rest of the time; it has lost a fair amount of its surrounding paving stones and a large chunk of the wall on the corner where it was knocked through by an errant lorry one morning; and yet it retains a magnetic charm for some people.

Magnetic because it's a large growing area that is hugely underused, one that is visible, available and free! Arguably its position on a gyratory makes it an unsuitable place for growing food, but perfect for some bright flowers to add a splash of colour and give passers by something to admire.

Which is why a friend of mine has been pimping it - May 1st is official sunflower planting day for Guerrilla Gardeners, and that's what happened on the Edward Street Gyratory. I understand the ground was a little hard as it had been hot and sunny for most of April, but the seeds got planted and watered regularly in the following weeks. I pass the bed every day on my way to work, so was able to keep an eye on progress and see if the flowers actually made it.

The seedlings started to emerge, and slowly reached skywards. Sunflower plants grow quite quickly and once they are established, can survive with relatively little care and attention - these are dwarf and medium-height sunflowers, not the giant ones which would have needed canes for support. A few clumps of poppies kept them company at times.

The sunflowers have just started to open over the last week or so, and add a lovely splash of colour to a very dreary corner. I was surprised to note that the area around them was actually weeded a few days ago - I'm not sure whether by Glendales, whom I presume are supposed to look after this bed, or by another guerrilla gardener.

My friend plans to expand the planting in this bed, to take advantage of its prominent location and huge capacity, and is looking for collaborators either for this site, or to form a Deptford guerrilla gardening corps to brighten up neglected flower beds across the area. If you live in this part of the Evelyn estate or Deptford/New Cross borders and are interested in doing a bit of urban gardening, or have ideas, seeds, unwanted plants, tools or time on your hands, please get in touch with me via the email in the top right-hand column and I'll pass your details on.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Hi Dame,
On our estate the only new planting is by residents. Glendales just mow the lawn occasionally. I don't think they have staff for weeding and actual gardening, that would eat into their profits.
Glad to see the progress on that patch.