I have just returned from one of my trips to North America, where spring is starting in the warmer areas, Here in Melbourne though we are in Autumn (although we have had an unseasonably hot start to this season, with a long period of extreme temperatures above 30+° C / 90°F), and our attentions turn to the pending Melbourne International Flower & Garden show.
This event parallels the famous Chelsea Garden Show in the UK and other garden shows when it comes to its significance in Horticulture, with 100,000+ keen gardeners visiting the show over a 5 day period. The show is held in the Heritage listed Carlton Gardens / Exhibition building area of Melbourne and is a must-do for avid gardeners to see the brightest and best in Horticulture from the Southern Hemisphere.
However as the show is yet to happen and because I will blog about what catches my eye during the show, the subject of this post is a continuation of my previous post about getting people interested in gardening.
Over the course of the past few weeks since my last post, I have been fascinated by the amount of information that I am seeing cross my desk and appearing in the media about gardening in challenging conditions.
The first article (“Neighbor digs in till ugly spots blooms“) that caught my attention during a recent visit to San Francisco was related to someone who was making a difference with some urban gardening in neglected areas owned by Caltrans.
It was amazing to see what could be accomplished by one person with the will to make it happen, and the desire to improve her surroundings for the benefits of all– despite the bureaucratic obstacles being put in front of her.
With this article tuning my psyche to look for similar stories (a bit like when you are looking to buy a car you notice more of the models you are interested on the road than you would normally see), further articles continued to cross my desk.
Probably the most inspiring was “Guerilla Gardener” Ron Finley’s video where he talks not only about the social benefits of his unauthorized road side garden, but also the economic contribution it makes to the community by hopefully improving diet practices. (I would recommend that you take the time to watch this incredible video.)
According to the video, “Finley’s vision for a healthy, accessible ‘food fores’ started with the curbside veggie garden he planted in the strip of dirt in front of his own house. When the city tried to shut it down, Finley’s fight gave voice to a larger movement that provides nourishment, empowerment, education — and healthy, hopeful futures — one urban garden at a time.”
With both these stories in the back of my mind I started looking at people trying to green their areas, despite some of the challenging conditions. See the level of optimism from the person who has planted this Jasmine in the smallest opening in the footpath in this photo.
I am sure it will survive and thrive given how tough Jasmine is, but just goes to show that you can garden anywhere.
In fact, whilst in San Francisco I took the time to visit Alcatraz (a key tourist attraction I had been keen to visit for many years) and noted that even the prisoners valued the chance to beautify their surroundings, planting in the worst soil possible on what is known accurately as ‘The Rock’.
Anyway, as we become more aware of the chemicals and production practices in bringing the fruit and vegetables to our table and impact that they can have on our health and environment, many of us are now considering the food miles involved in the produce we eat and how plants contribute to softening the urban environment. And with that, there is a definite resurgence in growing our own produce.
We’re seeing more and more previously unused areas such as rooftops and vacant lots now being used in urban areas as a space for people to grow their gardens. These type of spaces are becoming an integral part of building design / planning – just check the web if you don’t believe me, as there is an amazing amount of information being posted.
So hopefully after reading this article you will now be looking at the areas of your garden or neighborhood previously not considered as a possible garden spot, with the intention of turning these neglected areas into either food-producing corners or just enhancing them and bringing them to their true potential by adding some plants and TLC.
If you’ve been involved in any Guerilla Gardening programs in your area, we’d love to hear about them!