The Brockley Central Interview: Richard the Guerrilla Gardener

Today, we ended up having lunch with Richard, the guy who runs GuerrillaGardening.org. Or rather, we were having lunch, he was trying to get on with his work.

His site gives people advice on how to green their homes and their local streets, with the mission statement "fight the filth with forks and flowers." We asked him about Brockley's filth:

Do you know the area?

Yes, I have a friend who lives on Wickham Road, who's been living in the area ever since he moved to London, 12 years ago. He says it's a bit like London's answer to Tuscany.

Even we wouldn't make that claim for it - what does he think the two have in common?

Because it has a hill. And it overlooks a duomo (the O2). I think that's all the justification he had really!

Does Brockley have potential for Guerrilla Gardening?

Everywhere does. I actually did some on Lewisham Way a few years ago and I know of some people who are aspiring guerrilla gardeners, who live in Brockley.

This is actually a brilliant time of year to do it. Bulbs go in nicely and - if you're completely new to it, you can get started really easily by planting hollyhock seeds. Find some barren soil, like the area around the base of a tree, scratch the soil a little because it's likely to be fairly compact and then scatter some seeds.

How much care do they need?

None. You should treat it like a war - scatter your seeds but accept there will be some casualties along the way.

And do the Council ever uproot your good work?

Generally no. In my experience, so long as your handiwork looks reasonably tidy and it's clear that they are not just weeds, Councils are happy to leave them be. Revisit your flowers occasionally and tidy them up a bit, remove any accumulated litter and maybe scatter some small pebbles around them, so they look cared for and you should have no problems.

Richard's work is incredibly inspiring and he said he'd be happy to answer some questions Brockley guerrillas may have, so if you post your questions to him, I will ask him to address the best ones.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

When are you getting a tv show on channel 4?

Anonymous said...

Are you familiar with the work of the BXAG?

Osh said...

There is a patch of land between the railway bridge and the tea factory, which has a concrete floor but is never used because it used to be the entrance to a station which doesn't exist any more. There's not much soil there so do you have any advice about how we could green a little space like that please?

Crofton Parker said...

Excellent timing. Got given a free packet of parsley seeds yesterday. Shocked to learn it contains 1,000 of the things. Enough for world domination. But will start with Brockley.

Brockley Kate said...

Osh - tubs?

Nick - pics?

Bag-for-life carrier said...

I'd love to grow a big mung bush.

Brockley Nick said...

I ran into him by chance at my friend's company. No opportunity for pics I'm afraid, sorry :(

ivy said...

Thanks Richard! I'm not a big fan of hollyhocks, do you have any other suggestions for flowers I could try growing please?

Anonymous said...

If allowed could a hole or holes be drilled through the concrete,and then plant shrubs that spread at ground level.

lb said...

I think drilling through concrete would change the legality of the exercise.

If you don't like hollyhocks, how about some poppies?

Anonymous said...

Put some plastic turf over it.

Andrew Brown said...

I remember them - the guerilla gardeners - planning an action in New Cross a few years ago and thought that it sounded like a really good idea.

In fact it was pretty much what at least one Lewisham in Bloom winner had done in Downham, taking over a neglected piece of green space an treating it nicely.

So I put them in touch with the appropriate people in the council and from memory they were going to see if the council's contractor (Glendale) would pay for the materials.

Anonymous said...

'And do the Council ever uproot your good work?'

Why would they?

w said...

hi osh - plant california poppies in the spring ,they will grow anywhere and are v colourful and spread easily. : )

w said...

hi osh - plant california poppies in the spring ,they will grow anywhere and are v colourful and spread easily. : )

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