Wednesday, 2 December 2009

HINT HINT - A Guerrilla Gardener's Christmas Wishlist



Available from Etsy by clicking here

SEEDBOM is the friendly bomb that grows!

SEEDBOMs are handmade from a mixture of eco-friendly, locally sourced and recycled materials such as used egg boxes, shredded office paper, organic compost and flower seeds.

SEEDBOMs contain everything you need to start growing flowers practically anywhere. The idea is to get outside and interact with your environment, join forces with nature and brighten up dull and lifeless places in your area by throwing SEEDBOMs into derelict land, neglected spaces, fenced off eyesores or even your neighbour’s messy garden and watch them grow! 

#2 Outdoor Trompe L'eoil

Inspirational and also perfect for coverign up that eyesore while you are working behind the scenes.  Fantastic value and only available from DZD.

#3,4 5, 6,7 ....

gloves, trowels, forks, automatic planters, hoe, dandelion spade, saws, secateurs, trugs, spades, rakes, water storage canisters and cordless tools...  We always need sundries such as plant markers, rubbish bags, twine etc.   

Site specific wants include habitat boxes, ladybird towers, birdbaths, feeders, pump, pond, pondliners.  In the 'social' space at Porty we are aiming to have seating, benches, tables, solar lighting, firepit, screening and decorative items.  

For growing spaces we need rotavator/tiller, barrow/cart, planters, netting and climber frames. 

We are always trying to spread the word by taking stalls at fairs so are on the lookout for display boards and tables. 

Because we are often up very early or in the middle of nowhere and with no access to electricity, we could do with flasks, camping gear/shelter, waterproofs etc.

Please Santa, we've been very good this year and anything from a trowel to a totem pole would be most gratefully received.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Action Aid's Hunger Free plant tags

From your pot of peonies to plants in Parliament Square, wherever things grow, Action Aid wants to see your HungerFree plant tag!

Hunger is political - and people in the UK can make the difference.

Action Aid needs you to spread the word - and send a photo that will encourage others to get involved in ending hunger, everywhere, forever.

Just click the three steps below and find out how you can spread the message.
Step 1: Order your tags on the Action Aid website.
Step 2: Go Guerrilla Gardening (I'm sure you already know how to do that but here are Action Aid's suggestions!):

"We want to see those plant tags spreading accross the country like wildfire. Your friends, neighbours and local politicians should be constantly discovering them - and deciding to join the campaign. A few suggestions:"
  • Make sure that the best-loved plants in your home and garden are as commited to ending hunger as you are by adding a HungerFREE plant tag to their pots or beds.
  • Visiting a tourist attraction? It'll probably have some neatly trimmed plants. Why not accessorise them with some lovely ActionAid plant tags?
  • Popping into the supermarket? Don't you think that those pots of fresh herbs (which always die when you get them home anyway) might be improved by a message about hunger?
Step 3:(optional) Upload a picture

* Take a photo with your digital camera or mobile phone
* Create an email with your name and personal message in the subject line (unless you put the plant tag somewhere really cheeky, in which case you might want to stay anonyous)
* Add the photo to the email as an attachment
* Send the e-mail to and your photo and message will appear instantly on the ActionAid page.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

A Gaggle of Guerrillas

Shown left is how this Prestonpans High Street site looked at 6.30 this morning.

Shortly after this photograph was taken, fellow guerrilla gardener Rosie turned up, armed with violas, laurels and pansies.

As we began turning over the soil (and discovering several fragments of pottery which Prestonpans is famous for), Anne arrived with a golden conifer, violas and water.

Lucy-Ann and Andrea came along with trays of pretty chrysanthemums and we set to work.

It took less than an hour to fill the plot with daffodil and tulip bulbs, bedding plants, cordyline, heathers, artemisia and a boulder from the beach as a centre piece.

By this time it was light and people were starting to mill about so we went our separate ways, to catch some ZZZZzzz.

As we left the site a flock of pink footed geese flew overhead. Or is it a gaggle? or skein? What is the collective noun for geese? Come to think of it, what is the collective noun for guerrillas. A mask of guerrillas? A balaclava? I ♥ East Lothian. I ♥ guerrilla gardening.

A huge thank you to the fabulous people who gave up their time, plants and water to make this happen.

The location can be viewed here (switch to Bird's Eye View). Feel free to water and weed as necessary!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Unprepossessing in Porty or... Bath Street Bombsite... (Portobello)

On heading down Bath Street (off Portobello High Street) towards the promenade... there's a site that's been vacant for years...

Get a little closer...

Find a gap at the side of the fencing and squeeze through...

Penetrate the jungle and debris...

And lo and behold.... what do we have 'ere then??

A tarmacked hell or could this be turned into a wildlife h(e)aven...?

The very least we could do I suppose is liberate the bench and pots??

This site is privately owned but the owner has been in touch with PEDAL ( and is amenable to the site being turned into some kind of community garden. PEDAL have contacted us to see if we would be interested in taking this project on?

Would be a big undertaking but on the plus side we would have the backing of PEDAL and the owner...

If we leafletted the local area (where there are obviously some very keen gardeners), we could get local residents involved...

There is grant money out there for this kind of venture which PEDAL may be able to access for us. The owner may well be prepared to pay for the cost of skips etc to get the site cleared. Needs a lot more thought and consideration.... A meeting with the owner would be a good starting point and to have a proper look round the site. May be a good project to consider for the New Year? Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Get your kicks on route 26!

On Saturday 26th September, two exciting but different projects are taking place in Prestonpans.

For those of you who don't know The 'Pans, it is just along the coast from Musselburgh on the 26 bus route (or 129 but I couldn't think of a song for that).

The first event is a stealth guerrilla gardening operation. The site is small but perfectly formed patch of earth in a rather prominent pace. It will kick off at 6.30 a.m. (obscenely early I know) for maximum wow factor. If you want to be involved then get in touch.

The second event that day is a community bulb planting from 2.30 p.m. in Cuthill Park, Prestongrange Road, Prestonpans.

It is a large public space which has enjoyed some regeneration recently but would benefit from a horticultural hug.

These events are being organised by East Lothian Book Club for Fabulous Women as part of The Big Bulb Plant. It would be FABULOUS if you could join us.

Please check for any change of plans - events won't go ahead in adverse weather conditions.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

A constitution for ECGA

Hello everyone

As I've looked into getting some funding for ECGA projects like the Portobello Town Hall garden, it's become clear that we need to make the organisation a bit more formal. Most funders insist that we have a constitution, plan of activities and bank account.

I've put together a draft constitution, using a model from SCVO, the umbrella body for the Scottish voluntary sector. This would give us a set of rules for running things like meetings and membership, but not fundamentally change what we've been doing.

I'd appreciate it if you could read the draft and let me know if you have any comments/queries/suggested changes.
Once I've taken all these on board, we'll need to get as many people as possible together to adopt the new constitution and choose our first office bearers. Hopefully we can do this on one of our workdays in Portobello towards the end of the month or in September. Then I can get on and sort things out with the bank.

At the least we'll need to elect:
  • A Chair, to organise and run meetings of members and act as our public face
  • A Secretary, to look after our correspondence, list of members and the like
  • A Treasurer, to be responsible for the money. I'm happy to stand for this one.
The constitution is quite a long document, but here are some of the key features:
  • A two-tier structure of members and management committee, where office bearers are empowered to act on behalf of the group
  • Membership is free and open to anyone who wants to join, subject to a veto from the management committee
  • The need to maintain a register of members and hold an AGM
  • Meetings of members can be called by the management committee, or at the request of ten or more members
  • Five-year term limits for members of the management committee.
There are also provisions to deal with other eventualities that may arise in future, such as withdrawal/expulsion of members, conflicts of interest, employees, becoming a charity, and winding up the group.


Monday, 3 August 2009

Big gardening plans, small budget

Most guerrilla gardeners have a miniscule budget. Thankfully, that helpful bunch of people known as the general public regularly assist us by leaving all manner of litter which we can use in our battle.

Larger containers are a positive gift to the guerrilla gardener as they easily be turned into a birdbath or planter.

A plastic bottle can be used as a raincatcher, underground reservoir, cloche, watering can, bird feeders or a humane mole deterrents (placed a little way in soil with lid removed - wind makes a sound moles don't like).

The ubiquitous inside-out umbrella can be stripped of its fabric and the metal frame used as a support for climbers.

It's important to clear any litter from a site that could potential harm wildlife and that especially applies to carrier bags. Don't discard them though...even torn bags can be washed and fused together (by ironing them between two pieces of cardboard). The melted polythene then becomes a tough, sewable fabric useful for windbreaks, weedmats or polytunnels.

The biggest stumbling block we currently face on the Portobello site is funding - or rather, lack of it.

We have utilised whatever happened to be on site (strawberry anyone?) and hope to use the strange metal cage thingy as a cloche.

Lucy managed to get some free pallets from B&Q where she bought nails, posts, hinges etc, to make them into compost bins. (However, the prospect of secure storage looks a long way off unless the gardening fairy drops off a shed.)

If you are looking for ideas, take a look at Instructables or get inspiration from Earthship Fife who run Creative Waste Workshops.

If you can donate your time, expertise or equipment (or just want to say hello), we would love to hear from you.

The 'Sprout a Couch' photo is courtesy of ReadyMade

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Friday, 10 July 2009

Triumph and Tragedy: West Richmond Street

Hello everyone,

Just a wee update on the site at West Richmond Street. We did lots of weeding, seeding and bulbing and things had been sprouting up left, right and centre! For many years this had been a badly neglected rose garden, full of weeds and a few struggling overgrown untended rose bushes.

Unfortunately some Council gardeners turned up with a whole heap of volunteer schoolkids and sadly they blitzed a lot of the area before we realised what was happening! It was a great shame and a missed opportunity to really teach these youngsters about gardening. We managed to save part of the area we'd planted but sadly rather than a mass of flowers over most of the site, only a fraction remains. We managed to salvage this bit after negotiating with the gardeners. They admitted themselves the area would be covered in weeds within a few weeks and they had no plans to come back to the site or do any new planting. What a waste of so much potential beauty! They also didn't do a very good job of weeding and left the roots of the most pernicious weeds!! However we have been delighted with the mass of flowers that has sprung up and each day there is something new to delight in.

Lots of bees have been buzzing around the flowers which is lovely to see.

The broad bean seeds that Thea planted have grown very well and are looking extremely healthy. Unfortunately the red onions Andrea planted fell pray to the Council gardeners but a couple have survived.

Lots of lovely ladybirds (my most fave wee beastie!) have been visiting the site and keeping the greenfly off the sun flowers we planted against the wall. These should be coming into flower very soon and I'll post some more pictures when they do.

We have had lots of compliments from local residents and people on the way to work. Many folk have stopped to thank us for the work we've done and to say how much it cheers them up on their way to work. We often see folk stopping to admire the flowers. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has helped work on this site. There's still lots to be done and I'll set some potential dates/times in August for doing some more work.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Rock Trust Volunteers - Wed 8th July 2009

Hello everyone!

Well another very successful day was held at Porty Town Hall this afternoon. A whole heap of volunteers came along from the Rock Trust along with a few workers from the Trust.

In the photo you can see a couple of the workers from the Rock Trust, Mark and Sarah along with some of their volunteers. All the Rock Trust volunteers beavered away all day doing a lot of clearing at the site.

One of the workers from the Rock Trust Mark got rather a fright when he disturbed a wasps nest! However apart from a few stings he was fine. Though I can't really blame him for the fact that he did run like a girl! One of the volunteers did brave the area later to do some clearing.

Everyone did a fab job of digging up masses of tree roots and the site looks a lot clearer now. Another one of the volunteers did lots of clearance work round the corner of the site. I think we can now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! They all seemed to enjoy their time at Porty and are keen to come back in a couple of months to do some more work and see how things are progressing. A very big THANK YOU to everyone who came from the Rock Trust. They all worked extremely hard all day and we really appreciate their help.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Jupiter Artland

There's treasure hidden away in a West Lothian woodland. There's a rather special garden called Jupiter Artland.

Having made a fortune in the family business, a couple bought Bonnington House. They've turned the grounds into a sculpture park with works from some of Britain's leading artists.

There's pieces from Andy Goldsworthy, Charles Jencks and Anthony Gormley amongst others. Also, bees! Even the cafe's worth a look: a shining metal 1952 Silver Streak Clipper caravan.

The place opened to the public in May and by all accounts is fantastic.

It's also a labour of love: only a hundred people are allowed in at a time and it's only open three days a week. The couple behind it have admitted they'll never come close to making their money back.

It's open 10 - 4 Friday to Saturday until the end of August. Admission is five pounds each and it's essential to let them know you're coming.

The garden is easily found by car, or by taking the First Bus 27 to Wilkieston and walking the last half a mile.

Well, we should go! Who else fancies taking a day off the gardening to have a nosey?

Monday, 29 June 2009

Sun 28th June - A hard day's work well done!!

We had another fantastic if exhausting day's work yesterday at Porty Town Hall and more new faces than you could shake a large tree stump at!! (Though we did try) 5 new faces! We carried on from all the hard graft from previous weekends of digging up more tree stumps.

Please welcome new faces Caroline, Michelle (Mickey) and Ansley (Ans). Caroline hails from Leith and whilst by her own admission, a total novice, certainly isn't afraid of hard work! Michelle and Ans hail from Port Seton and have quite a bit of gardening experience. Most folk will recognise Tom in the background (couldn't miss a photo opportunity eh Tom?) who is a regular guerrilla gardener.

The 3 of them took on a pretty mammoth task of digging up one of the biggest stumps on the plot. They were certainly pleased when the beast was tamed! They were helped out by another new member who arrived, Cathy who lives at Mountcastle nr Porty High School.

Me, Tom and another new face, Dawn, took on a slightly smaller beast to tame, but were just as pleased when we finally got the thing uprooted! Dawn also hails from Leith and is another novice but really got stuck in - I think she was joking about using semtex in future!

I think the photos show just how much clearing we managed to do in a few hours yesterday and it was fantastic to have so many new folk turn up to help out.

Our next work days are as follows:
Sat 4th July, 2-5pm
Wed 8th July, 12.30 - 3.30pm (along with volunteers from the Rock Trust)
Sat 11th July, 2-5pm
Sun 12th July, 2-5pm
Sun 19th July, 2-5pm
Sun 26th July, 2-5pm

Tom is currently busy looking into different funding sources and it looks very hopeful that we will be able to secure some money for this project. I'm busy drafting up a design for the garden which I'll e-mail round to everyone soon as I want as much creative input from folk into this as possible! Work is progressing well, so a big thank you to everyone who has been helping out.

Thea's Elderflower Cordial

As promised, here is the recipe for Thea's Elderflower Cordial (inspired by Self Sufficientish):

  • 20 of the most fragrant elderflower heads from the Water of Leith Walkway
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 2 tsp of citric acid (Edina Home Brew will sort you out)
  • 1.5 kg (3.5 lbs) of sugar
  • 1.2 ltr (2.5 pints) boiling water


  1. Boil a kettle for the water.
  2. Fill a bowl or small bucket with all the other ingredients.
  3. Pour the water over the other ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Skin the surface of the water to get rid of the scum that can arise. Cover with a pillow case.
  4. Stir twice a day for five days.
  5. Strain though a pillowcloth and decant into sterile screw topped bottles. Refrigerate.
  6. Dilute with 5 parts water to serve to guerrilla gardeners.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Portobello: Summer Solstice Spectactular!

We had a really exhilarating day at the Portobello Town Hall site. If you weren't there, here's what you missed:

After weeks of clearing vegetation, today we started uprooting some of the weeds from what will be the growing space.

We were delighted to be joined by Emma who had heard about us on the Guerrilla Gardening website and came along to join in the fun.

As the sun shone, we all stopped for a well-deserved break and a cup of Thea's elderflower cordial (recipe here); humous and breadsticks, wunderbar seedy biscuits, scrummy chocolate cake and of course our beloved Nakd bars. We chatted about 'greenwashing', apron strings, ladybirds and greenhouses. It was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

It was just as well we had an energy boost as it took all of us to remove the remains of an old root system which did not want to be dug up. (Think of The Enormous Turnip story and you have an idea of what we were battling.)

Davy, from Pedal, the local climate change group, also stopped by and loaned us a saw. (If you haven't joined Pedal yet, you can download the 'Ordinary'/Portobello residents form here; or Associate membership form here. Membership is only £1 and is necessary to work at the Porty site.

Finally, we filled a dumped loo with soil and planted it up with some of the wild strawberries which grow in abundance on the site.

A tiring but fun day, fab food and new friends. Please join us for the next work-in on Sunday 28th June from 2.00 p.m. You will be most welcome!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Stop Press: Rebel Tomatoes Hit Porty!!

No, it's not a 1950's B-movie... but if you fancy becoming a rebel tomato for a few hours, days or months, these are the next work days for our community growing space at Porty Town Hall.

Wed 17th June 2009 at 12noon till 3pm Joining us will be some volunteers from the Rock Trust who work with vulnerable young people.

Sun 21st June 2009 from 2pm. We will be gardening hard as normal but as this is the summer solstice please bring
along some food and drink to share and let's party like

Sun 28th June 2009 from 2pm

Please wear sensible old clothing, gardening gloves and bring tools such as forks, spades, loppers, rakes etc if you have 'em!

All aspiring rebel tomatoes very welcome!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Porty: Four Days of Hard Labour

On the last Saturday in May, while sensible people had gone to the beach, our chain gang were starting the first of four clearing weekends at the Porty site.

As previously reported, the site at the rear of Portobello Town Hall is as large as it is overgrown - i.e. very.

We set to work clearing the site to see exactly what we are working with. We removed a lot of ivy but left the patches of honesty and feverfew in situ for the time being. The buddleia provides some welcome shade and is enjoyed by birds and butterflies so survived the cull (although will need to be cut back at some point).

It was really nice to have some new faces join us, some as a result of signing up with Landshare. (Lots of people were very keen to have a wee 'allotment' - but are a bit overwhelmed at the amount of work required before that is possible!)

As the Town Hall is a working building, we soon made friends with Council workers, caterers, wedding guests and of course residents in the neighbour houses.

Highlights of the week included:
  • Discovering a wasps nest (you should have seen us run)
  • Getting support from the locals
  • Being given drinks by wedding guests
  • Recruiting new volunteers ('Join us and get Nakd in the long grass' is a very effective slogan).
It has been hard work but seeing the results of our efforts has been great. It's been pleasant too with a real social vibe about the place as volunteers were rewarded with yummy Nakd bars to keep their strength up. The odd apple pie bar certainly helped smooth relations with the security staff to the point that we can now fill our watering can in the building. A fight broke out between Sarah and Jason over the last coco loco but they calmed down on being threatened with the naughty nettle step. Thank you to Natural Balance Foods for their continued support.

As work progressed, we could begin to see the possibilities. We toiled away with thoughts of wildflower meadows, treehouses, raised herb beds, picnic tables, al fresco film screenings, outdoor art exhibitions, orchards, community cooking, clay bread ovens, wedding receptions, sensory gardens, Nakd gardening...

With such a good-sized site, once cleared, there is scope for a multitude of uses - we would love to hear your ideas....but we would especially like your HELP!!!!!!

We want to have a really big push at this site on Sunday 21st June - Summer Solstice/Father's Day/Nakd Appreciation Day. Please join us.
Bring food to share,
bring tools (if you have them),
bring a friend (if you don't have one, we can supply these).
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