I’ve been out inspecting the tree pits this morning excited – beyond reason – by the potential of the coming months after all the work. I’m even planning what comes next.
As we enter a new growing season, the guerrilla gardens now number 18 – from the original three – in a variety of differently-sized, -managed and -edged tree pits.
They stretch from a cobbled triangle round the corner, line both sides of our street and come to a halt beside the local park with its meadow we have been restoring.
Some of guerrilla gardens are entering their fifth summer, others their second and a few their first. But what they all have in common, despite their age, is that I’ve slowly changed the emphasis of the planting over the last couple of years from horticulture for show and effect to permaculture for pollinators and drought-resistance.
One of the four principles of rewilding, according Rewildng Britain, is to “create ecologically coherent units”. So, every guerrilla garden now has growing in it at least one cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), red valerian (Centranthus ruber), spurge (Euphorbia wulfenii), hollyhocks and red bistort (Persicaria amplexicaulis). The plan, is that a bee or any sort of pollinator can start feeding off the guerrilla gardens round the corner, travel down those in our street and then buzz into the meadow in the park.
I’ve not worked out exactly how I am going to measure whether the plan has worked. Will I be able to track a single pollinator in its journey on a summer afternoon, for example? Will I be able to count the same pollinators in more than 75% of the tree pits over one month?
If I can find a way to do so and it shows some success, my plan for autumn this year is to plant the same combination, with occasional additions, in as many of the tree pits in the neighbourhood as possible. In this way I will massively extend the wildlife corridor. The number planted will be limited only by the amount of plant stock which will be foraged from existing tree pits.
But to be able to guerrilla garden at such scale, I will plant and walk away from them, leaving them to their own devices.