Monday, 30 March 2009

Cambridge Street Concrete Garden

Andrea and Jan met up with Erlend & Hélène Clouston at their beautiful Cambridge Street home to hear about their battles to restore the area to its former glory.

Cambridge Street is bounded on one side by bustling Lothian Road and by Castle Terrace on the other and has spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle. Its other famous neighbour, the Usher Hall which is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment to the tune of £25 million.

One might imagine that in such a setting, a Georgian terrace might feature some formal gardens. Sadly, this is not the case. Numbers 5-7, owned by Edinburgh City Council, leased by the NHS and used as a day hospital, are giving the residential owners a bit of a headache. Over a cuppa, Hélène told us about her perennial fight against litter, mostly originating from the numerous takeaway establishments in Lothian Road.

(Any classically-educated passers-by will have a chuckle at Erlend's wry plaque about the nobility of picking up other people's fag ends.)

Fed up with the gardens being used as a public convenience and takeway food dump, CRAG (Cambridge St Residents Action Group) turned to Edinburgh World Heritage for help. They were awarded a grant of £23,970 under their Conservation Funding Programme to replace the missing spear-headed cast iron railings at the category B listed building. So far, so good, but the ‘gardens’ outside numbers 5 and 7 comprise a few concrete slabs and nothing else.

Paving slabs weren't a problem for the Cloustons in their own garden - they simply covered them with a layer of gravel and, with the addition of water features, planters and a couple of Philippe Starck ghost chairs, created a 'philosopher's garden'. Ideally, CRAG would like a similarly low-maintenance approach featuring box and lavender.

Various agencies and residents have indicated a willingness to undertake some gardening but after a year of talking, no action has been taken. The obvious stumbling block being the paving slabs which need to be removed.

We are hopeful that a solution is just around the corner.

If you want to be part of a prestigious planting party, let us know!

Spring forward...Leap into action in Leith!

The clocks may have gone forward but that doesn't stop a guerrilla gardener...

In the early hours of Sunday morning, two of our sleep-deprived crew set about transforming a neglected 8' x 2' strip of land beside Leith Athletic F.C.

View Larger Map

It didn't take long as the soil wasn't as compacted as we'd feared. After clearing the site of leaves, rubbish and weeds we sowed some bee-attracting flower seeds (including sunflowers) along the back wall.

The daffodils that were planted on a previous mission are beginning to surface and these were supplemented with dahlia pompon, liatris spicata and some mixed oriental lilies.

It will be a good few months before we see the results but the site is already looking better, not least because of the addition of ecga mascot percy the gnome.

After an hour's hard labour the guerillas had an all day breakfast at The Leith Walk Cafe. Want to join us next time??

Friday, 20 March 2009

Made from Guerrillas???

We can't take any credit for this whatsoever but thought it was so inspirational we wanted to share it:

kingfisher project, Kelvinbridge, Glasgow, 2006 - More DIY How To Projects

Guerrilla Gardening for Clowns

Guerrilla Gardening for Clowns

The world of permaculture meets rebel clowning.

This is a two-day workshop where people can learn the ancient
art of clowning and methods of direct action in the context of
permaculture design.

Where and When
Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 March
TePooka, The Big Red Door, Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh EH1
10am to 6pm

The intention is threefold.
1. Exploring ways to reclaim a sense of community and openness
with each other, fostering group intelligence.
2. Reclaiming our bodies, spontaneity and natural creativity
through clowning.
3. Reclaiming land on a local scale and beginning a community
garden somewhere in Edinburgh.

We will be working with games and exercises involving rebel
clowning as well as permaculture design and guerilla gardening.

Who is facilitating the workshop
I have facilitated some 30 or so workshops in clowning and
taken part in numerous workshops in fooling (which has given me
a wealth of experience working with people creatively in
groups). I have also taken part in a permaculture design

The workshop is run on a donations basis. Please donate what
you feel the cost of such a workshop would normally be -
obviously within the limits of what you feel you can afford.

If you are coming to the workshop, please email me on
kugi[AT] to let me know so I have some idea of the
number of people who will be turning up.

Also, please bring food to share for lunch.

Also, please invite your friends!

Looking forward to playing together.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Sir Harry Lauder Memorial Garden, Portobello

Andrea, Jan & Lucy met up at Portobello Town Hall today to tidy up the Sir Harry Lauder Memorial Garden. Although sited at the Town Hall, the garden was actually funded by the local community and Portobello Community Council asked us if we would like to look after it.

It is a nicely laid out garden - low maintenance but high interest. Lucy pointed out a beautiful Corkscrew Hazel (Corylus avellana) which was specially chosen as a nod to Sir Harry's own crooked walking stick.

One of the security men came out and gave us some primula that were left over from the window box planting. We planted these in the memorial garden, picked up some litter and did some weeding. There isn't too much to do at the moment but we will need to consider watering in a long hot summer (we can dream!).

Behind the Town Hall is a very overgrown patch of land which could be just the project we are looking for. It's long rectangular stepped area running East/West, overlooked by housing. At the moment the buddleia has run wild and there's a fair bit of rubbish but it certainly has the potential to be a very special community space. And, right in the heart of Porty!

After a couple of hours, we decided to go for a coffee at nearby Kitcheners where we drew up a plan of action - okay, we just blethered really, why not join us next time?

The Battle to find a name

So we have a blog. But who are 'we'? Are we Edinburgh Guerrilla Gardeners? Community Gardeners of the Lothians? Scottish Seedbombers?

It occurred to me the other day that the initials of the six people I've been corresponding spell 'battle'.

Hmmm...we certainly plan to do battle with weeds but it doesn't really sum up the aspirations of the group. So...until we come up with something better, we are the Edinburgh Community Gardening Activists - JOIN US!